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Debunking the Myth About Not Graduating “On Time”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

It’s the start of a new semester againーwhich means the beginning of my last year as an undergrad, a couple of months after what was supposed to be my graduation month. This means I am now heading into my fifth year with two whole semesters left to tackle before I can even think about walking across a stage and receiving my diploma. During my first years of college, I would always comment on how I was so eager to get everything out of the way and graduate ASAP, but first year turned into fourth and, next thing I know, here I am. It took a lot of work for me to accept that I would be graduating in five years instead of four, due to all of the general misconceptions about how soon a student should graduate. So today, we are debunking all of the myths about not graduating in four years. 

The truth is that only about 36% of students graduate “on time”, which can, in turn, be  due to any number of reasons such as credit loads, college transfers, changing majors, and even a worldwide pandemic. All of these circumstances may have the potential to hinder us from being able to go at the “right” pace. Being an undergrad is such a confusing and transitional part of one’s life, so being expected to do everything “right” from the very beginning is simply not realistic. Factors including mental health, physical wellbeing, and family/financial struggles are all things that can slow down the process of completing a four-year degree.

My main concern for not graduating “on time” was being perceived as a lazy student or dubbed a failure by those on the outside. Dealing with impostor syndrome was difficult enough, but having to accept the fact that I was going to graduate later than I had originally planned was another complication in and of itself. And so, having to explain this situation to my family members and friends made me feel small. I knew that they had seen how hard I was working and that they would be nothing less than supportive, but something about it still made me sick to my stomach. I felt embarrassedーlike I had been lying to both them and myself about the work I was doing. 

Even now, writing this, I have mixed feelings about my pacing through college. In retrospect, I know that I could’ve handled more classes, attended more study sessions, or just somehow done more. But realistically, none of these things would’ve changed the outcome of my situation. 

Comparing my situation to others who are “on the right track” is unfair to my progress and the struggles that I have gone through since I started studying. Every person’s path is different and whether it’s taking you three years or seven years to complete your undergrad journey, it’s a victory all in itself to just experience it. Regardless of how long it’s taking you, take comfort in knowing that you’ll finish at some point, at you own pace and on your own time.

Luisa Colón is an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus. They are currently studying English Literature. Besides the usual long walks on the beach, she enjoys reading romance novels, updating their bookstagram, and starting (but never finishing) crochet projects. We know you'll love her, xoxo Her Campus.