Don't let the idea of "Finish in four!" bring you down
"Finish in Four!" A saying that I hear far too frequently. This phrase was first drilled into my head in high school. I was in AP classes all of high school, and every teacher that I had from the government to English told me that my goal was to finish college in four years.
Growing up without anyone in my family has gone to college, I just assumed that this was the norm. As I struggled to try to decide my major while in high school in the back of my mind I was always dead set on finishing college in four years. Then, it came time to go to SOAR or more popularly known as freshman orientation.
I walked into a crowded auditorium to watch a powerpoint about general Missouri State things with a group of other up and coming freshman. The faculty coordinating the event kept repeating the phrase "finish in four," and saying that it was our goal as college students. SOAR was a two-day process with multiple new student events.
At all of the events, I kept hearing the phrase "finish in four." I even heard it from the dean of my previous major and adviser at the time.
I came into college as a Wildlife Conservation Management major and was placed in a major based, all freshman course. The course was designed to explain courses and get students to sort of used to the campus and college life. In this course, I was constantly being told that my goal as a college student was to finish in four years.
I had my first adviser meeting and she told me that I would want to finish in four years and that I would have to take an insane amount of challenging classes in order to do so. After long contemplation, I decided that I needed to change my major.
After a semester I changed my major to elementary education, which is the best decision I've probably ever made. I sign up for an appointment with my new adviser and she told me that without over 16 credit hours a semester and summer school I would not finish in four years. This was devastating. I was always told that I needed to finish college in four years, and being in college longer was basically the end of the world.
I signed up for 5 different classes, two of which had lab sections. One of the classes with a lab that I signed up for was math which has always been extremely hard for me.
I ended up being overwhelmed by the amount of work that I had. This was taking a toll on my mental health, which was spiking my anxiety and making college an unenjoyable experience. But, I had to finish in four.
I was risking my mental health, social relationships, and any free time that I had. I finally decided that it was time to drop my math course and drop down to 12 credits.
At this rate, I was told that I wouldn't finish in four years and my plan was falling apart. I turned to the internet to find stories of people like me and turns out that 60% of Bachelor graduates finish in 6 years. Even more reassuring with me, only 36% of graduates finish in four years.
Now I've come to the realization that graduating in 5 years is okay. Everyone goes at their own pace and knows their own limits on education. Don't be discouraged if you're the only one of your friends in college for 5 years. It'll all be worth it when I'm living my dream and working my dream job. For me, I'd rather just take my time and enjoy the ride.