I have a challenge for you: think of a college student in your life and ask yourself…do you know a college student who has not struggled to pay their tuition and fees? Have they changed, or add to, their major or minor? Have they taken a semester (or a year) off, or only taken classes part time? Do they work and go to school? Do they regularly take 16-19 credit hours per semester? Did they immediately go to college after graduation high school? Did those who graduated with their undergraduate immediately go to graduate school? Think of another college student. Another…and another. Stop when you get to someone who has never done any, or all, of these things.
Society tells us there is a way of going about your education:
Do well in high school; graduate and go to college or university. Succeed in your academics, graduate in four years with an Undergraduate degree. Go to graduate school and/or go into the job field (attempting to find a job in your area of interest, at that). Graduate with a Master’s degree and/or maintain a job with steady enough income to support a stable life. Now, I could keep going. However, I do not think that I need to write out an entire timeline of educational endeavors and life events, because not only are the majority of us familiar with this timeline, but the timeline itself on its way to becoming obsolete.
I did not realize it until a regular customer at the coffee shop I work at had a chat with me about my recent transfer of universities. He casually asked about school; I spoke about how my credits did not transfer in the most ideal way, and subtly saying that I may need to take extra time to finish my degree. Without a beat, he told me that finishing a degree plan in more than 4 years is completely acceptable. He told me his own narrative, which included attending university for more than four years; his story is not the overall point.
The overall idea is that walking down the timeline we are all so familiar with is becoming less common. If you consider adjustments in modern life paired with the steep costs of a collegiate lifestyle, money alone could be a young person’s reason for taking some extra time in the classroom. That does not begin to discuss the matter of changing majors into consideration (which we all know is a huge topic in its own essence and of its own nature). Why should a student take 17-19 credit hours for eight semesters? Sometimes, students receive advisement that falls short of standard, leading them to take classes at inopportune times on their pathway to graduation. Budget cuts are causing many colleges and universities to only offer upper division classes certain semesters; thus, if a student misses the opportunity to take a class the one semester it happens to be offered, they may have to wait another semester to a year for it to be taught again.
So, don’t be afraid to take a semester off to save money, or your mental health. Change your major. Work a job with whatever hours you feel comfortable, and take classes on the side. Take one class. Take 19 credit hours. Take four years to finish school. Take five and a half years to finish school.
Don’t worry, it’s going to be alright.