The classic 4-year bachelor's degree experience is proposed to incoming college students, high school students, and the like as not only the achievable standard but a necessity. This misconception can cause strife on students, and their families, who have bought into the idea that just because graduating in four years with a bachelor is possible, that it should be strived for against all odds. However, the cost of college and the growing need for outside experience for post-grad job placement will soon create a new standard among students and their families: that graduating in four years isn't necessarily the goal- but becoming the most well-rounded individual, and soon to be professional is. Here are 4 top reasons why graduating later than "normal" will soon be the new normal – and why doing so can be an added benefit to your career, and your life
1. A Major change shows you're not afraid of risk.Giphy
Major changes, especially if they're a 180-degree switch, are complicated, daunting, and risky. While not every major change is a great one, they most always add extra semesters to achieving a degree. However, because of the setbacks a major change creates, they require that extra amount of perseverance and dedication from a student. Many students who change their major, especially, later on, do so because they have strong confidence in the career that matches their new choice. The resilience, and focus it takes to switch majors may be an indicator that a student who does so may also be a professional who isn't afraid to take a risk and see it through.
2. An Institution change shows you can adapt to change and thrive in a new environment.Giphy
Along with major changes, institution changes are a big reason why many students don't graduate in four years. Not only do separate institutions have different requirements, but even similar programs within an institution can also have drastically different course requirements. On top of dealing with program requirement changes, students who decide to transfer have to adapt to a new environment quickly, often with an age range that has already been acclimated. The ability to overcome these challenges, and having college experience in another geographic location, is something hiring recruiters are impressed by and often look for. This is why study abroad experiences are marketed heavily in top universities. Being able to experience different perspectives and thrive in environments that may provide moderate to severe change will improve your chances of being hired by exceptional companies.
3. Taking time off for great experiences will only make your resume stronger and set you apart from the competition who only has a degree.Giphy
One reason college costs for students have bubbled is that a degree is no longer the ultimatum for hire. To stand out from the rest of your peers with a degree, employers now famously look for experience. Experience, however, comes in many forms. The Disney College program, volunteer experiences, internships, co-ops, full-time research positions, or even part-time opportunities that are time-intensive and cause an 18-hour course load to be lowered to 12, may cause additional time in an undergraduate program. An employer is more impressed by the experience, than they are distracted by the extra summer it took you to graduate after researching in another country for a semester, or even working full-time for any particular reason. Your stories are what set you apart as a student, and your degree is just the foundation for those stories. Your job as a student is to look for specific opportunities that enrich your learning experience and give you something great to talk about during an interview. Your recruiter is less impressed that you graduated on time and more impressed that you already have found outlets to work with what you're passionate about.
4. Avoid Burnout! Taking a break when your young (when needed) should be encouraged.Giphy
Gap years exist for all the reasons I've stated above, but they also exist because getting out of your routine can help you prevent or recover from burnout. Graduating as soon as possible should not be a goal that overtakes all other aspects of your life. Learn to tolerate a large workload, and learn to work hard, but before you have a full-time position and limited vacation days, don't kill yourself trying to get hired! If you need to push a class back for your mental health, do it. If you can make your life easier by dropping a commitment, do it. If you want to take a summer off so that you can travel instead, please do it. Give yourself the time, and space in school to find what your passionate about so that you can, in turn, feel rested enough to take on leadership positions on your campus and do well in your classes
I am in no way stating that graduating in 4 years isn't a solid goal, because it is! However, at the end of the day, it's not what gets you hired or what will guarantee you success. Success as a student is made up excelling in class along with the many other opportunities that University may throw your way. If you get the chance – take them.