An Open Letter To Those Not Graduating On Time

An Open Letter To Those Not Graduating On Time

Graduating college in any number of years is an accomplishment to be proud of.
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To the person that isn't graduating on time,

It sucks, and I won't lie to you and tell you it doesn't. The day you walk out of Advising, head hanging down because you aren't going to finish in four years, makes you feel ashamed of yourself. You did well in high school; you were always told you were smart, expected to be smart, so why couldn't you make it out in four years like you were supposed to?

You know you're going to have to tell your family, so you begin preparing yourself for the worst reactions possible. And telling your friends you won't be graduating with them will only add to that sense of hopelessness.

Soon, you'll see photos and posts from people you left high school with, talking about graduation and the wonderful lives they are about to begin in their new careers. You'll wonder how they did it, and you'll feel like a failure.

But you're not.

Graduating from college is a huge deal. It really is. And it will be no less of an accomplishment in five, six, or 10 years.

"According to the Department of Education, fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college each year graduate within four years, while almost 60 percent of students graduate in six years. At public schools, less than a third of students graduate on time."

Things happen. You might change your major. You might have financial troubles. You may take a year off to figure out exactly what you want to do. That's okay. Take all the time you need. The real world and your career will still be there whenever you graduate.

Guess what else. Your family will still love you, and your friends will still support you. Give them some credit. Your loved ones want you to be happy and successful. Don't get me wrong, they may be upset at first, but give them a chance. Odds are, when the emotions settle, they will go right back to asking how classes are going. And when you do get the news that you'll be graduating, they will celebrate with you, and they will be there in the crowd, waiting for you to walk across that stage.

Graduation will happen. If you attend your class and study hard, it will happen. There is no reason to rush. Just do your best. Try your hardest. Take classes when you can. Just by doing that, you're doing more than so many others are able to do.

"Among 18 countries tracked by the OECD, the United States finished last (46 percent) for the percentage of students who completed college once they started it."

You'll get there. Take your time. Enjoy your classes. Find new interests. Study what you love. Embrace opportunities. Study abroad. Take that weird elective class. This is your time to take in everything the world has to offer. Take advantage of that. You'll graduate when you graduate, filled with pride and wisdom. And when they call your name, and you walk across that stage, hold your head up high, because you've earned every bit of your degree.

Graduating from college takes countless hours of studying, long hours in the library, and a tremendous amount of dedication. Don't add pressure to yourself by setting a timer. It is completely okay to graduate when you graduate, and it is still something to be proud of.

Best Wishes,
A woman who is finally graduating

Cover Image Credit: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/120417041415-education-graduation-cap-story-top.jpg

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7 Truths About Being A Science Major

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Whether your major is Human Bio, Chemistry, Neuroscience or any other that deals with a lot of numbers, theories, experiments and impossibly memorizing facts, you know the pressures of pursuing a career in this field. So without further ado, here are seven truths about being a science major:

1. There is no “syllabus week.”

Coming back to college in the fall is one of the best times of the year. Welcome week has become most students' favorite on-campus holiday. But then you have syllabus week: another widely celebrated week of no responsibilities… Unless you’re a science major that is. While your other friends get to enjoy this week of getting to know their professors and class expectations, you get to learn about IUPAC nomenclature of alkanes on the first day of organic chem.

2. Your heart breaks every time you have to buy a new textbook.

Somehow every professor seems to have their own “special edition” textbook for class… And somehow it’s always a couple hundred bucks… And somehow, it's ALWAYS required.

3. Hearing "attendance is not mandatory," but knowing attendance is VERY mandatory.

Your professor will tell you that they don’t take attendance. Your professor will put all lecture slides online. Your professor will even record their lectures and make those available as well. Yet if you still don’t go to class, you’ll fail for sure. Coming into lecture after missing just one day feels like everyone has learned an entire new language.

4. You’re never the smartest person in your class anymore.

No matter what subject, what class or what concentration, there will always be someone who is just that much better at it than you.

5. You get totally geeked out when you learn an awesome new fact.

Today in genetics you learned about mosaicism. The fact that somebody can have a disease in part of their total body cells but normal throughout all others gets you so hype. Even though you know that your family, friends and neighbors don’t actually care about your science facts, you HAVE to tell them all anyways.

6. There is never enough time in a day.

You are always stuck choosing between studying, eating, sleeping and having fun. If you're lucky, you'll get three of these done in one day. But if you're a risk taker, you can try to do all of these at once.

7. You question your major (and your sanity) almost daily.

This is especially true when it’s on a Tuesday night and you’ve already consumed a gallon of Starbucks trying to learn everything possible before your . Or maybe this is more prevalent when you have only made it through about half of the BioChem chapter and you have to leave for your three hour lab before your exam this afternoon. Regardless, you constantly wonder if all the stress is actually worth it, but somehow always decide that it is.

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I Had School Choice, And It Better Prepared Me For College

Not all students can excel in the traditional brick-and-mortar school setting.

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As the years progress and people grow tired of traditional public education, more and more options of schooling are opening up: charter schools, virtual schools, magnet schools, Montessori schools—the list goes on. Some people see this as detrimental to traditional public education and claim that charter schools and such are taking money away from public schools, but these schools are not doing that. In fact, charter schools are public schools, and they most times receive less funding due to costs such as food, transportation, and the costs of running a traditional school building are eliminated. With these areas cut, charter schools are able to pay their teachers more generously and have higher per-pupil funding, which is increasing with their rapid enrollment. Oklahoma-based Epic Charter Schools, the virtual, one-to-one charter school I attended, is first in teacher pay and fourteenth in enrollment statewide. Having the option to go from a traditional school setting to something as innovative as Epic Charter Schools benefited me, and my graduating class of over 1000, tremendously and prepared me for college better than any brick-and-mortar school could have.

Throughout my schooling, I always went to public school. School was my absolute favorite thing. I'm the kind of person who gets extremely excited to buy school supplies and choose my classes. In elementary, I became a part of the gifted and talented program, and I never found school particularly challenging. This didn't bother me when I was younger because it seemed like there was always something to do after classwork was finished, such as coloring sheets, reading, etc. But when I got into middle school, this changed and I stopped liking school as a whole. When I would finish my work in class, there would be nothing to do and it was always too loud to read, so I was at a loss. Because of the lack of challenge for me, when I knew there would be nothing for me to do in class, or it was just going to be a day where we watched a movie, I wouldn't go to school. I did this so often that in middle school I actually failed classes that I had As in because of my attendance. The fact that I failed classes because of my absences didn't surprise me as much as the fact that I could keep As in said classes while missing so many days that they decided to fail me.

My freshman year went about the same as my middle school years—I was still missing a lot of class, and I started putting less and less effort into my work because I just didn't like school anymore. Finally, in my sophomore year after I started driving, I quit going to school altogether. I had heard of Epic Charter Schools, and I took it into my own hands to get enrolled and withdraw from my brick-and-mortar. My family wasn't too supportive of this, but I pushed for it hard enough that they finally came around.

The first semester of Epic was rough, to say the least. It was the first time in a long time that my work was challenging, and whoever says a virtual school is easy, you're completely wrong. The difficulty of virtual school doesn't even come from the subject matter; it comes from the accountability. I had a teacher, but she wasn't at my house every day telling me to do my work, so I put it off for weeks at a time. After some time, I finally found a schedule and the following semesters' virtual classes were a breeze because my time management skills had developed so much.

When my junior year came around, I was excited to start concurrent enrollment at a local community college. Through Epic, I was allowed to take as many college courses as I wanted as long as I was taking at least one class through Epic. At a typical public school, students are only allowed to take two per semester; I was taking four, sometimes five college classes while still in high school, and they were actually challenging me.I'm sure most people think that sounds expensive, but it really wasn't. In the state of Oklahoma, high school students receive a waiver for six credit hours' tuition for no cost, only fees are paid. For me, through Epic I received an additional eight-hundred dollars in a learning fund, which I applied to my tuition. I also received a tribal scholarship for my concurrent courses in exchange for completing community service hours.

Through Epic, I was able to complete 52 hours of college credit completely debt-free WHILE STILL ENROLLED IN HIGH SCHOOL! The summer after I graduated, I completed my Associate's degree at Tulsa Community College (61 credit hours), which all transferred to my current school, the University of Oklahoma where I am studying Language Arts Education to become a teacher (if you're reading this, Epic administrators, call me in 2020 when I'm certified).

Not only am I graduating college two years early, but I am also saving my future self at least 50 thousand dollars of debt.

Most importantly, though, through Epic, I regained my love for learning.

Epic high school students and traditional students alike: please take advantage of the opportunities presented to you whether it be concurrent enrollment or vocational school. After high school, you will be so glad to have some college experience before going to a four-year university or to have a certificate to move into the workforce.

As the Epic's motto says: school CAN be different.


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