Taking more than four years to finish college is actually more common than you think...
Ever since the beginning of high school, I had my academic future planned out. I was going to be a pre-med student in college, graduate with my bachelor's degree within four years, then move onto graduate school. Once I started taking my pre-med classes, I started struggling quite a bit.
I was retaking certain classes not only to get a better grade but to also understand the material more. After retaking multiple courses, I started to fall behind in the number of credit hours necessary to keep the proper class status. At that point, I knew I wasn't going to be able to graduate in four years and would eventually become a "super senior."
The term "super senior" refers to a student who will be taking longer than the traditional four years to complete their undergraduate studies. People can become a super senior for a variety of reasons.
Some people may not be able to attend school full time. Others may double major or be in a program that takes longer than four years to complete. There are also instances where students develop different interests and change their major.
As I said, I had never planned on being a super senior, so when it became my reality, I felt defeated. Being a super senior made me feel like I was failing at college. During my fourth year of school, I witnessed many of my friends since freshman year filling out their graduation paperwork, applying to graduate programs, getting internships and co-ops, or looking for their first adult job. While I was happy for their success, it was hard watching my friends graduate without me.
Another unpleasant aspect of being a super senior is having to tell people you are one. I've lost count on the number of times friends and family have assumed I would be graduating and asked me what my plans were for the next year, and I had to awkwardly respond that I would still be finishing up classes for my degree.
As much as I didn't want to become a super senior, the fact was that I became one. However, I am currently in the last semester of my undergraduate studies and I must say that I am truly thankful that I got to spend that extra year in college.
Having the additional time in college gave me the opportunity to realize what my true calling was. I was able to take classes that I would have never taken on my pre-med pathway and I discovered that social science subjects like psychology and social work are actually my passion.
Once I realized I was in the wrong major and started taking classes that interested me, I actually started to look forward to going to class every day. Not only did I like my classes, but my grades improved immensely.
Another bonus to being a super senior has been the new relationships that have developed. Once all of my college friends graduated and moved away, I tried to find other people to spend my time with. I am so thankful for all of the new friendships I have made because of being a super senior. Had I not been in school that extra year, odds are good I would have never met them!
All in all, becoming a super senior was not part of my initial plan, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I was able to learn more about myself and what my passions are, as well as meet some amazing new people along the way.
In the end, it doesn't matter how long it takes for you to get that degree, all that matters is that you earned it!