Last week, I should have graduated college with my undergraduate degree.
Instead of doing that, I laid in bed and watched via live-tweet as my classmates walked across that stage to snatch their diplomas and show off their clever, Pinterest-worthy caps.
I didn’t quit school, nor did I flunk out. I just chose to take longer than the assumed four years to finish my degree.
When I first found out that I wouldn’t be graduating on time, I thought my world was going to end. “How the hell will I afford another year of school?” and “Where did I go wrong?!” infiltrated my head as I made that call to my parents to break the news.
Yet, after a little time, I realized taking a fifth year to finish my undergrad degree wouldn't be so bad after all.
In fact, there are some major perks to staying in school as long as you possibly can:
I still have some time before I need to start being a "real adult."
Yup, you heard it. So while my friends jump into the professional world, looking for jobs or internships, I’ll still be pulling all-nighters in the library Tuesday nights so I can spend all-nighters in the bars Thursday nights.
You thought that 8 am Friday class was rough? Just imagine how that 8 am office job will be.
I’ve been granted a little extra time to figure out my life.
Probably one of the biggest reasons I’m graduating late is because I took longer to figure out what exactly I wanted from my college experience.
I transferred schools, switched my major (and minor, respectively) about five times and dabbled with different internships and clubs I thought would lead me in the right direction.
By taking this time, I’m finally comfortable and excited about what I am studying. I have some friends who have graduated with a degree in a field they no longer wish to pursue.
They could have switched paths, but it would have deterred them from graduating on time.
It really makes you think: Since when does that tiny piece of paper become more than the whole reason you went to college in the first place?
The “Four-Year Myth” is actually a thing.
According to a news report from Complete College America, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis, only 19 percent of full-time students at most public universities earn a bachelor’s degree in four years.
Reportedly, 60 percent of students going for their bachelor's degree will transfer schools, losing credits in the process.
So, don’t feel ashamed that you weren’t able to pull it off in the socially acceptable time allotted. There are more people in your boat than you think.
Taking longer actually made me more self-dependent than reliant on my parents.
In most colleges in the United States, to be considered a full-time student, you have to be enrolled in at least 12 credits for each semester.
While my roommates took the average 15 to 18 credits, I sat back and took the minimum.
It wasn’t because I was lazy, but because it gave me the opportunity to have a full-time job while I went to school.
This allowed me to need less money from my parents and more to add to my savings, all while acquiring some quality work experience for my résumé.
One more year of school = one more year of networking!
Probably the most important skill I learned since entering college was to meet as many people as possible because they could be your future connections out in the professional world.
Having an extra year to make stronger bonds with professors and professionals alike is extremely valuable.
So, take advantage of those office hours and alumni events; it could pay off more in the end than you think.
Being able to graduate in four years is a triumph, and you should be incredibly proud of yourself if you did so.
Let’s face it: College is tough. But, don’t be ashamed if you didn’t because there is no reason to be.
No matter what your circumstance is, you should be proud that you’re moving forward and getting the education you deserve.
Thankfully, at the end of the day, employers don’t really care how long it took for you to get your degree, they're just concerned about whether or not you have one.
And just think of it this way: You have a whole extra year to ward off that b*tch, Sallie Mae.