High school for four years, college for four years, then adulthood. That’s the mindset most of us had coming into college. Now, myself and many others, are coming to the realization that that just is not how things are going to pan out, and that’s okay. When I decided to change my major after Fall 2020, I felt embarrassed and defeated, which got even worse once I realized that meant I had to be… a fifth year *shudders*.
It took a lot of thinking and crying through it, but more and more people are realizing that college is not like high school — there is no linear timeline you must follow. College is best done at the rate that works for YOU, not some old presumption that you have to graduate four years after arriving on campus. Changing your major is nothing to be embarrassed about. So you didn’t know you’d actually hate the idea of being a teacher when you choose that major at 18; how much do you agree with ANY decision you made at 18? Let alone a life altering one. The way I started to look at it was that at least I did not wait to graduate, start teaching and THEN realize that it was not for me.
Having to take a fifth year is a lot to swallow, but it helps when those around you are also taking another year. If you don’t know any fifth years now, I guarantee you will meet some soon, as almost every person I know is a fifth year or is planning to take a fifth year. Not because they failed or aren’t capable, but because they know their limits and what kind of timeline would help them be most successful. Some are because they failed classes though, which DEFINITELY happens to the best of us.
Instead of looking at your fifth year as being held behind, realize that your life is going on right now, all around you. You aren’t being held back from anything, but more work that will always be there. Look at your fifth year as a chance to finish strong, to focus on yourself, or to pick up a new hobby or activity that will make you a better adult. Something that could make you a better adult could be reading more, looking into stocks, meditating, cooking, etc. Having that extra time could have you more prepared for life after college than you would have been if you did graduate in four years.
I believe we should abolish the phrase “graduating on time,” because on whose time are we talkin’? The school’s time? They will gladly take your money for as many years as you let them. Your time? If it is “your time” then you get to decide when “on time” is. That is the beauty of adulthood, YOU get to finally call the shots and control your own life, but that comes with the responsibility of making sure you are not spending too much time in school because it is not your main focus. There is a difference between taking your time and wasting your time.