It’s Okay Not to Graduate in 4 Years

If you’re like me—a ’95 baby who hopped right into University after high school—you’re watching all your friends graduate right now, thinking “huh, that could’ve been me.” Two years ago, this would have inspired a full-on panic attack, but somehow now I’m relieved.

I grew up in an academically-focused high school, where most of my friends and I were taking IB classes (similar to AP) that count for University credit if you receive a high enough grade. We were setting ourselves up to be able to skip most of our first year classes, putting us on a fast-track to graduating from our Bachelor’s Degrees in three or four years.

My Dad, who is a professor at the University of Alberta, always warned me against skipping my first year classes, since they were a very valuable learning experience, and an important part of adjusting to University. Still, two years ago when I realized the degree I wanted to take was a five year degree, I will admit that I had a mini-meltdown. For me, doing something longer than it was supposed to take felt like failure. I felt like I was falling behind.

Competing at for Team Canada at Youth Worlds in New Caledonia.

Of course, as time goes on, you gain perspective. I realized that the four co-ops my five year program required me to do will provide invaluable experience that will actually get me ahead— not behind—once I graduate. And when I made the National Rock Climbing Team in my second year, my longer degree allowed me to take a lighter course load so I could take a few weeks off and compete at Youth Worlds. Throughout my degree, that teeny tiny extra semester allowed me to invest more time in friendships, get better grades, put my full heart into competing, and even complete a co-op abroad.

Doing some sight-seeing during my co-op abroad in Bali!

The real turning point came for me last year, when I watched my boyfriend graduate. A year older than me, he had managed to achieve the increasingly-rare feat of the four-year undergrad. I was so proud watching him cross the stage, seeing him and his grad class fling their hats triumphantly into the air. In that moment, I looked around the auditorium with its proud red velvet chairs, tearful mothers, and relieved graduates, and thought: thank god I’m not graduating yet.

Ryder’s grad, June 2016.

The truth of it is, MyUVicLife readers, University is awesome. In that moment I realized how great it is to get to learn things every day, to be surrounded by wonderful, like-minded friends, to have a flexible schedule, to have an excuse for being hella broke all the time, and to have the possibilities of all your dreams at your fingertips. University is not a bad place to be, my friends. Don’t forget to enjoy it in your rush to graduate.

A note to my past self (and others like me): don’t fret so much about “being behind.” In life, there’s no such thing.

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2 Responses

  1. Rebecca says:

    Flipping love this, Ali <3