Why It's Okay To Take More Than 4 Years To Earn Your Degree

Why It's Okay To Take More Than 4 Years To Earn Your Degree

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In elementary school, you think "I miss sitting at home and eating snacks and taking naps." In high school, you think "Middle school was a breeze, I wish I could go back." In the real world, you think "College was the best four... five... six... years of my life." If that's the thought that's going to follow you around for the rest of your life, you better make sure you at least did it right. This is why it's okay to take more than four years to earn your degree.

College is an important part of your life. It's a lot more than going to class every day. College is where you get to experiment, explore, and figure out what you're good at and what you like. College is where you learn about life and unfortunately, sometimes in life, you need to sacrifice. If that sacrifice happens to be pushing a class or two back a semester in order to join a fraternity, that's okay as long as you're happy! If you decide that you need another semester so you can express yourself in an art show, or another year so you can play football, do it! And more power to you if you're extending your school time in order to pick up a minor or a double major.

College is your time to set goals for yourself. If you want to leave college with a mechanical engineering degree, that's awesome. What does it matter if it takes you four or five (or even more) years to do it? Unlike high school, no one is going to judge you for taking an extra year to complete your necessary requirements. Or an extra two years. Or three. Or however long it takes for you to fulfill your accomplishments. This is your time to grow.

I know that it's easier said than done but you can't allow other people's opinions to cloud your vision. Whether it's about what makes you happy or how long it takes you to get there, nothing matters except how you feel about the situation.

Another reason it's okay to take more than four years is because life happens. College is meant to help you, not hurt you. It's okay if you can only go to school part-time if you're working to pay for your education. I know from experience that family emergencies can set you back a semester or so, and believe me - it's not the end of the world if you fail a class (It's actually quite common!). You should always focus more on your mental health than feel pressured to finish college in the suggested time frame.

Basically, you shouldn't freak out if you need to take an extra semester, or even a year or two. College is supposed to be the best years of your life, no matter how many years it takes you! There's no need to stress it. Just relax, take a deep breath and remember - there's always next semester.

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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Change, Change, Go Away...

Come again some other day!

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Change sucks.

I've gone most of my life convincing others (and myself) that "I love change!"

Or saying "I like to think I'm adaptable, so spontaneity is something I love."

To give you the cold, hard and honest truth: All of that is a bunch of shit. Aside from when I still wore diapers, I have never been more full of shit than when I say these things.

There comes a time in life when we grow tired of our own lies and until that point, nothing generally changes. Except, change sucks, right?

I like when the weather changes from freezing cold to invitingly warm.

I like when someone else changes my sheets for me and I don't have to jump and sprawl my 5'3" body to secure the fitted sheet onto the farthest corner of the bed (which generally ends unsuccessfully).

I really like it when the stoplight changes from red to green (because I have a need for speed).

I even like when someone asks to change seats with me on a flight because the reality is that there is no such thing as a good seat on a flight. If you're on the window, you can't get up easily (but you can rest your head) and if you're on the aisle, you can sit there and get up as much as you want, as long as you don't mind your elbow being taken out from under your head while you sleep every time the drink cart passes by.

The point is, these trivial changes are fine, expected and some can even be enjoyable.

It's the changes that we do not expect, the ones that go against our status quo and our life flow, that knock us off balance and send us into a spiral of confusion, excess chocolate consumption and challenge.

As I've mentioned in previous articles, I am a big believer that all stress is a result of something being different than what we want or expect.

Big changes are no exception to this stress.

The coolest, most amazing, incredibly awe-inspiring part about life is that change is possible. Everything around us, at all times, is constantly changing. Unfortunately, this means that we too are subject to this change.

So, what kind of change am I talking about?

Am I talking about the change in your pocket you thought you lost and then found? No.

After all, nobody likes to lose anything besides weight these days.

And to that point, our bodies are constantly changing too. Our hair, our face, our skin, everything physical about us. These are the types of changes I'm talking about. Our relationships change, our jobs, our friends, our understandings of life, all of this changes. These are the big guys, the "uh-ohs," the "I didn't want to learn another life lesson this week" kind of changes.

However, despite the fact that I am 21 and those of you reading this are a range of ages (which I am so grateful for), one of the many qualities that unite us is that we have all experienced change.

Individuals of all ages experience loss and grief. Death plays no favorites and spares no ages. Physical changes happen to all age groups too. Life changes that alter our emotions and mental states are constantly happening to everyone, at all times.

The last three years of my life have been laden with changes. More specifically, the last six months have mentally worn me out but there's a quote that I keep going back to that my mom shared with me over the summer, it says: "an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it's going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming."

If you want to rearrange it, you've got to change it.

My hope is that we realize that we don't have to love change. In fact, we don't even have to embrace it because some changes are just too tough. What we do need to do is hold on and keep aiming and acknowledge the fact that we all are constantly going through changes.

Whether we talk about those changes or not, they're present because they are a sure fact of this wildly amazing life we live. One of the few things that remain constant in this life is the fact that things will constantly change.

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