I think we can all agree that college is a difficult and stressful time in our lives, and for good reason, as it’s a highly challenging environment meant at refining us as thinkers and leaders. But, there’s one thing to de-stress about, and that’s the notion of getting your degree in exactly four years, as most universities encourage you to do. It’s a good idea, for sure, and you should certainly aim to get your degree in a reasonably short time. But the reality is that, for some of us, it may not work out exactly as planned, whether due to a major change, some kind of big event in your life or some other set of unforeseen circumstances. If that happens, don’t worry too much about it. Instead, you should enjoy your time as a fifth year student, also known as a “super senior.”
Am I biased? Well, a little, but who isn’t? I’m a super senior largely because I changed my major from computer science to creative writing during my second year. It was a change from something I was good at but didn’t enjoy to something I was really good at and completely loved. For me, the choice was obvious, and even though it delayed my graduation, I don’t regret it. Not only did I get to pursue something I truly enjoyed, but the process of starting with computer science and jumping to creative writing brought me into contact with more ideas, experiences, classes and people than I would have if I had just started with creative writing or stuck with computer science, just for the cost of a little extra time. Was it worth it? Yes, every second.
From my experience and observations, very few people actually come to college knowing for sure what they want to study or even what to do with their lives in the first place. On the first day of class, you might think you’ve found your one true passion in life, and by the third day, you can’t stand your “passion” anymore and you’re ready to drop out, run off and start a band or become a wandering hermit or something. For me, the change wasn’t overnight (or so extreme), but as I evaluated my time in computer science classes, I realized that, despite my good grades, I felt nothing but dread about slogging through another quarter’s worth of classes whose subject matter I wasn’t passionate about. It clicked for me that I had only picked the major because I was concerned about the kind of salary it’d bring me.
Eventually, I realized that the money just wasn’t worth the tradeoff of spending my life on something that wasn’t going to bring me happiness.
I wasn’t alone in this feeling. A lot of students will end up changing their majors at least once, or pick up a minor, a double major or even a triple major, because they have passions and dreams they want to accomplish. If you’re considering this, or if you even think it’s any kind of possibility for you, I’d say go for it, even if it might delay graduation for you. Let’s be real, do any of us really have our lives figured out yet? Nah, we’re still learning. I’ll let you in on a secret: Most people, at any age, are still trying to figure out life. It’s alright if you don’t have the answers just yet.
If it happens, it happens. Take a deep breath and steady yourself. Don’t take it too lightly, but also don’t worry yourself bald over it. You can handle it, you can overcome it.
Let’s be real, graduating sooner has its benefits, and college tuition is no joke, especially if it keeps going up. So, if possible, you should try to graduate in a reasonable time frame. At the same time, know that it’s not the end of the world if the “Finish in Four” plan doesn’t pan out for you. I’m nearing the end of my time in college, and although I won’t graduate as soon as I thought I would, the course of my journey has brought me many more great friends, lessons and experiences than I had imagined, not just in creative writing, but around the university as a whole. If I had the chance to do things over, I wouldn’t.
You’ve made it this far. You’ve seen and experienced by now that nothing, ever, ever, ever goes exactly as planned. You might not graduate in four years, but that’s not the worst thing in the world. What matters more is that you keep at it, and reach the end in one piece.