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When You Have to Take a 5th Year of College

Senior year of college.  A time filled with the last times. Last recruitment, last home football game, last round of midterms, last late-night run to Trujillo’s, last sorority formal. It’s a very strange feeling to be in the middle of your fourth year of college, yet know you have a whole year to go before you walk across any graduation stage. 


If you had asked me 3 years ago as a freshman at UC Santa Cruz if I would be okay with staying one extra year to get my degree, I would’ve said you were out of your mind. High school was already a tough four years, and I was not about to make college take any longer than it needed to be. No way I would do it.


Then life hit and it hit me hard. I transferred schools after being miserable at the first one, got my acceptance rescinded from San Diego State a month before move-in, was forced to take a semester off college in order to get to State at all, and then got here only to be faced with the reality that I needed to graduate a year late in order to earn my Journalism degree. Yeah, a lot to swallow as a 19-year-old. It’s hard watching all my friends get ready to finish college and enter the working world.


I realized that like it or not, I wasn’t graduating in 2020. Being honest, I wasn’t happy about it at first. Couldn’t I get a break? And then I decided to look at it differently. I had extra time for everything I wanted to do but felt like I couldn’t.


Having time is an interesting power. Suddenly, I wasn’t in the same rush like everyone else. I can relax when looking for a job, enjoy another year in my sorority, even study abroad for a whole semester. I can participate in more clubs and better balance my workload each semester. A lot of friends are still graduating when I am.


Most importantly, I realized how to make the best of a situation. Even though this was never what I would’ve imagined my life being, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. For better or for worse, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Alexa is an Art and Journalism student at San Diego State University. A true California native, she loves sunshine, being outdoors, and road trips. Her passions include photography, activism, traveling, writing, drawing, and all things creative. She is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, the Photo Editor for The Daily Aztec Newspaper, and currently feeding her caffeine addiction as a barista. You can probably find me behind my camera, on Twitter, or perfecting my latte art at Starbucks.