The Regret-Free Five Year College Career

I’ve always known that, like high school, the average college career is four years. Some are longer and (somehow, someway) some are shorter. I wouldn’t learn the details of how and why an undergraduate academic career works the way it does until I actually started college, and then, it all made sense.

Like many people I’ve met throughout my college career, I have attended more than one school. Despite getting accepted to Montclair State, it did not have the title of being my first choice. Instead, on an admittedly questionable decision, I chose to go to a lesser-known, private school over 50 miles away by the name of Rider University (If you’ve never heard of it, it’s okay. If it hadn’t been for a good friend of mine who had already been attending for a year, I wouldn’t have either.)

My first year of college was… eventful, to say the least. In all aspects of my life, I learned something new, primarily, as lots of people like to point out, college is not like high school.

Fast forward to nearly ten months later with the unforgettable first year of college in the books. For personal reasons, which are probably never going to be revealed to anyone in their entirety, I decided the best path would be for me to leave Rider.

And that’s when things took an unexpected turn.

Essentially, I was at a loss. I fell off track and wasn’t 100 percent sure how to get back on it. Of course, transferring to another school was key. But by the time I had decided to leave Rider, the application deadlines for the schools I had my eye on had passed. As a result, I ended up taking a semester off.

In that time, I was anxiously awaiting transfer acceptance letters with little change of who they would be from. Montclair State ended up being the one that stuck and I was officially enrolled as a student for the spring semester of 2014, which began a nearly a week after my 20th birthday.

It was that fact, right there, that really freaked me out.

I would later learn that I wasn’t, but at the time, I felt SO behind. Although I shouldn’t have done so, I started comparing myself to my high school colleagues. The ones that had gone to some sort of university were by then settled, comfortable, and most importantly, halfway through their sophomore year of college. And here I was, feeling like I was starting from scratch in a lot of ways.

Even though I changed schools, the path to graduation is more or less the same. I read and reread the policies of course requirements for how it works at Montclair State so that I would get on track and graduate as quick as I can to not waste any more time.

I should mention here that not all 30 credits I had completed in my first year had transferred, so making those up in addition to the ones I didn’t do during my semester off, set back the time I would get my diploma by a year, making me a member of the Class of 2017.

As the title of this article states, I don’t feel bad about taking five years instead of the highly expected four. Delaying my college completion for its various reasons was, as I now see it, a very good choice. I never gave it much thought, but it would have been really difficult, although still possible, to catch up. But to do it for the sake of saying I finished “on time” didn’t make any sense.

I also don’t regret ever attending Rider, since one could argue that the reason for all this was because of my time there. As I said before, I learned a lot, some of which I could probably never have learned had I come straight to Montclair State after high school.

Everything that I felt and thought back when I first enrolled here is no more. I’ve grown to learn that there’s a really good chance I wouldn’t have gone through the things I did and met the people I met, had I not gone through this.

I may not have learned basic yet useful ASL. I might not have learned what anthropology is and how it works. I may not have even met my two best friends on campus because I wouldn’t have taken the class I met them in.

Most notably, I would not ever have written this and be so open about sharing my story.

Timing is EVERYTHING. And if the past half decade of my life hasn’t taught me that, I can’t think of anything else that ever will.

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