When I was in fifth grade, I got the news that I had to take another year and I couldn’t go on to middle school with my friends. I was upset and moped about it for some time but I knew it had to be done. It wasn’t because of any academic reason; I was just scheduled for a surgery that would take place during the school year and my parents were worried that with all that going on I wouldn’t be able to catch up much. It ended up turning out pretty okay. I assimilated myself in the new year and got to make some new friends.
For the past twelve years after that, I had remained in the same year, never having to worry about something like that happening again. Until now.
I’m supposed to be part of my University’s 2018 graduating class. But I’ll have to wait just one more year.
Freshmen year was a rocky transition for me. I was jumping into new and unfamiliar territory and it seemed like life was traveling at a much faster pace than what I was used to. I didn't have as much security and guidance like when I was in high school. I also felt I didn’t have as much close friends. It was hard. And it caused my grades to slip as well as my focus in my classes. I ended the year almost in danger of being dismissed, if I’m being honest.
I was able to bounce back a bit in sophomore year. During that time, I switched majors. In the end, I ended up doing it twice. First to journalism, which was pretty short-lived, and then to English. I ended up staying as an English major for the rest of the time, and it was a pretty good choice for me. While I do experience a few bumps from time to time, I'm no longer struggling like I was four years ago and I’m at least trying to keep up with the fast pace.
There’s a lot of pressure, stress, and expectations to graduate college in four years like “normal.” And with a family like mine, with an Ivy League grad older sister, I definitely feel it. But I don’t feel alone or like I failed. A lot of people haven’t been able to graduate in their expected time. I know two of my friends had five years under their belt. I just tell myself I’m following in their path and that doesn’t make me feel as bad.
It does make me sad that yet again, my friends will be jetting off to their own adventures, this time out in the “real world,” but what makes college different than elementary school is that there’s more freedom and availabilty to hang out with the younger grades. And I did and I managed to make a good amount of good friends. There won’t be much of trying to integrate with the crowd and finding a comfort zone.
And let’s be honest, going out into the real world...it’s absolutely terrifying.
By the time this article goes live, the University at Albany’s Class of 2018 will have had their commencement weekend...and I will not be part of it. It’s a truth I’ve learned to accept. Because in the end, I know it doesn't make me a loser or a failure that I can’t graduate on time. I’m never alone. I’ll still have the love and support from my family and friends. And as long as I keep trying and keep climbing the mountains and jumping the hurdles...it’ll be worth it.