Taking a Victory Lap: Not Graduating on Time

It's so often said that "college will be the best four years of your life." But the more accurate saying sounds something like "college will be the best four and a half to five years of your life!" or "the best four years and one quarter -maybe two depending on your schedule -of your life!" It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

For a while, I felt like I was the only one who couldn't complete her degree in four years. My freshmen-year friends are psyching themselves up about graduation while I struggle through another round of the hellish class registration for next quarter. It feels strange and a little lonely to not finish college with the people that were there with me in the beginning.

But there are so many college students who don't earn their degree in the typical 4 years! In fact, this NY Times article claims that only a small minority of public four-year colleges graduate their students on time. It attributes reasons such as finances and credit transfers to why so many people take longer to finish their studies nowadays. So it turns out a lot of us undergrads are in the same boat.

So even though I don't fulfill the most common college cliché of all, it's not all bad. In fact, taking extra time to get a degree can be very rewarding. I chose to attend my particular college for many good reasons, and I get to enjoy it for a little longer before becoming an adult with a job (hopefully) and at least 3 cats (definitely). I can use my time wisely, whether it's taking a fun class that never fit in my schedule or exploring parts of town I never did before. There's more potential to squeeze as much life as I can out of my college experience.

Most importantly, even though I'm not graduating with the class I started college with, I am graduating with another group of people who are equally as smart and diverse. They are the ones who I can complain to about the killer midterms and share career advice and drink several cups of coffee with over long study dates. Taking a little extra time with a victory lap gave me the opportunity to know my college classmates more than just a name and a face in a lecture hall. Not graduating in 4 years doesn't mean graduating alone.