How I Made my Decision to be a Fifth-Year Senior (and Should You Make the Same Decision?)

I’ve noticed that being a fifth-year senior seems to have a bad stigma to it. And, to me, that doesn’t make sense. Not everybody knows exactly what they are doing from the very beginning. Some people change their minds or decide, last minute, to double major. (Yes, I’m guilty!) Not everyone moves at the same pace, and that’s okay. In fact, according to Complete College America, “only 19% of students complete their bachelor's degree within 4 years.” So should you make that decision to take another year (or even two) to graduate with your bachelor’s?

You aren’t on track to apply for professional school.

For me, being a fifth-year senior was a decision made after realizing I was behind in the medical school application process. Coming to Ole Miss from a community college, I had not had a lot of advising for medical school. Ole Miss had a health profession advising office but when I first transferred here, I was nervous to meet with these people. This is one of my biggest regrets! I did not know that I was supposed to apply to medical school in the summer of my junior year, nor did I know that I was supposed to take my MCAT even sooner before that.

You have another passion.

If you feel like you are just stuck in the major that you are in and have no interest in a career pertaining to this major, why would you stick it out? Or, if you are already in a major you like but have an interest in another, take on a double major (which is another reason for me)! I’ve started to enjoy class a lot more now that I am in a field that I enjoy, and feel even more tied to the department since I take part in departmental research. Feeling like you belong in the major that you are in is very important to enjoying college life.

You want to pursue another minor.

The best thing about going to a university is you get to learn things from somebody who spent years learning about that topic. Professors have so much knowledge to bestow upon you. How could you not take advantage of this? Some degrees require you to have at least one minor, and this minor offers the perfect opportunity for you to learn something that’s out of your major. Really interested in economics but you are an art major? Why not minor in it? Personally, as a double major in two hard sciences, I wanted something to allow me a break. I am an Italian minor and, honestly, I enjoy my Italian classes sometimes more than the hard sciences I take. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to study abroad!

You didn’t get as involved and “anchored” to the campus as you would have liked.

If going to a university just means school for you, then you should reconsider this for a second. There are so many people on a university campus and so many different types of people with different interests and backgrounds. And that means lots of diverse organizations on campus with different purposes and different events. If you don’t take advantage of the diversity while in college, it’ll be hard to get it later. As a transfer student mentor, I help students transferring from other institutions with getting adjusted to Ole Miss and one of their biggest regrets about the institution they are transferring from is not getting involved. If you don’t feel like you feel as connected, or “anchored” as I like to call it, take on that fifth year and get involved!

So whatever decision you make, don’t feel like you are “behind.” The “normal” graduation time is actually 6 years, and if you don’t graduate in 4, you’re okay. It’s okay to take another year to get your life figured out or to pursue a minor. It’s your education, take it as far as you like!