So, When Are You Graduating?

Story by Amy Cain
Photo by Anne Langan

“What is the reason for you staying an extra year at CMU?” asked an interviewer.

Thank God it was a phone interview because I had the blessing to roll my eyes and feel the frustration that comes from hearing the preconceived notions about exceeding the traditional four-year period. Once again, my academic seriousness was being questioned.

As a student who is entering her fifth year of college, I do get insecure at times. Seeing peers graduate while you have one more year feels kind of odd. However, I have another year to learn and finish strong.

To make it simple for the people in the back, here are six ways to shut down the negative comments about taking extra time to graduate.

1. Different Major, Different Track

I am concentrating on Fashion Merchandising and Design with a minor in Advertising. Compared to other students who aren’t required to have a minor, I have an additional load.

And, each major has different requirements and course loads that sometimes affect their graduation date. For example, education majors commonly exceed the traditional four years due to training in and out of the classroom.

On the other hand, some majors require you apply and become accepted into a program to pursue a particular degree. My sister was rejected from the Graphic Design program the first time she applied. She ended up getting in the second time and graduating with the degree.

2. An Appreciation for Education

College is not an education express. It takes years to fully understand and gain specific experience.

You can’t hurry wisdom.

3. The Amount of Electives

I didn’t have AP credits coming into college, so I was required to take all electives. Some I understand are necessary, like english and history. But Algebra 105? I already got a B in high school. Didn’t the college view my transcript?

To put it into perspective, if I had taken all of my electives together it would’ve taken me 2 years, or 4 semesters, to complete the list.

4. “Major” Decisions

I knew I had an interest in fashion and advertising, but I was skeptical. All I had was the introductory classes, and those can be very general.

Also, some scholarship students have a four-year plan their first semester here, and I didn’t know much about an academic adviser until sophomore year. It’s awesome that those who receive scholarships get quality adviser time, but what about other students?

When I met an ambassador in Warriner Hall my senior year in high school, she gave me the bulletin to look through, and as we all know, the bulletin is really intimidating and confusing. I wish I had gotten in contact with the FMD adviser at that moment.

Declaring a major is not an easy decision to make your freshman year. There are people who have known what they wanted to do since age 12, and some don’t know until their third year of college. We all get there on our own time.

5. They Forgot to Mention…

“I forgot to mention that you need this course…” is an anxiety-triggering sentence that causes many of us to check Advising Workbench religiously.

There are students I know who were set to graduate, however their adviser didn’t mention a change in degree requirements. Instead of graduating in the spring, they graduated in the winter. (Brrr.)

6. Personal Reasons

Though academic goals are important, sometimes life gets in the way in reasons that hit close to home and are too much to handle.

These students are not quitters, but strong individuals who put more important things first. These are students who take time off of school and come back to finish strong.