Yes. It took me 6 years… SO WHAT?! IT’S NORMAL, OKAY!
One of the biggest myths about college is that it “only takes 4 years”. So you’re telling me that at 17/18 years old, I would know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my entire life?
Uhm, no, sorry! All of that is a joke. College is a time of self-discovery. Maybe it’s your first time being away from home (aka me). Maybe you thought you knew what you wanted, but ended up realizing it’s not for you (aka me). There are plenty of reasons that can hold a person back from graduating in 4 years, and honestly, that’s normal now and people don’t often tell you that and trust me… I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE.
For the longest time, I was SO down on myself for being in school for sooo freaking long. A lot of my friends left in 4 years, and being in a sorority, basically my New Member Class (Alpha Sigma Class, whooo) all graduated before I did. My parents and other relatives would get on me about not graduating “on-time” and make jokes that I’ll be in school forever (& honestly, they’re not lying about that, though, cause ya girl is for sure heading to grad school) and I felt judged by classmates I’ve had when I told them how old or what year I was. Now, I OWN that sh*t, and here’s why…
When I graduated high school, I knew I loved helping people. I just didn’t know how to go about doing that as a living. I was obsessed with the TOMS movement (throwback af) and how this man used a simple idea of “Buy a Shoe, Give a Shoe” to create a successful business as well as make a difference in the many lives of people in developing countries. With this in mind, I decided that I was going to major in business.
Upon entering college, I did really well! I had a solid 3.5, joined a sorority and got a position as Director of Academics and various committees for events, got 2 Internships under ASI Student Government and Project Connect, was a Notetaker for the Disability Resource Center, and so on. As my college career progressed, my activities progressed and my interest in my classes declined and then I came to a weird spot – call it a mid-college-life-crisis. As much as I enjoyed business, I guess I was just scared. But I also felt that I had potential for more. I just didn’t know what that was. During my GE’s, I realized I did really well in the science aspect of it and I generally did well in science in High School, I just didn’t think I’d wanna do that for the rest of my life. One thing led to another and then I decided upon Optometry School – switching my major from Business to Biology. But being in the middle years of college, my priority for getting classes was literally dead last. So actually getting into biology classes took FOREVER. I had to crash so many classes, and at times, it was just luck! I was even held back an extra semester because I couldn’t take the introductory Biology or Chemistry classes because it was full and I couldn’t get in.
When I finally got into those classes, it was a major shift from what I was doing before. And also, many of the students in my classes were a lot younger than me, which was a little discouraging when I would say “Oh. Yeah. I’m about to be a Senior” to people who were saying “I’m a freshman (or Sophomore)” or when I said “I’m about to turn 22” to my classmate who said “I turn 21 in the next year and a half!” I FELT SO EMBARRASSED. With that discouragement in play, I felt even more lost and my interest in my introductory classes were low too. But I stuck it out anyway because I already felt like I’ve lost so much time switching that I might as well just stick with it.
The start of transitioning to upper division classes came along and it was in these classes where…. everything kind of just clicked for me, it all just came together. I stopped caring about where I was in my life. With school, there is no official timeline; there’s no “right way/path” to get through school. You just figure out what you’re good at and who you are, and it’ll lead you to the right places. I’m not saying you have to have this major epiphany and know yourself, but at least have some ideas of who you are and what you like. Go with your gut!
Once I hit my upper division classes, I started getting straight A’s, I met some of my BEST friends (some of whom are taking longer than 4 years too), I found professors who really cared about my learning and my work, I joined extracurriculars to teach students how to succeed in subjects I never thought I would ever even take or do well in. In these last couple of years, I have felt so much fulfillment in these classes and I know that I was in school for those extra 2 years for this reason! To get a true experience of enjoying my work and to get a better understanding of who I am, for myself.
Now I am a Biology Physiology Major with a Minor in Chemistry, a Supplemental Instructor for Physics 2, a General Biochemistry Tutor, a Biology Education Researcher, as well as an Alpha Phi Alumnae (Titled with 2 years of Presidency), a VBS Coordinator, an aspiring Influencer, and an aspiring Doctor (or PA). All of this, plus more, made up my college career and it’s these things that I’m incredibly proud of and feel so accomplished with. And, YEAH, it took 6 years. I’m not saying it’ll take you this long too, but I’m saying everyone’s journey is different. I knew a person who graduated from undergrad while approaching their 30’s. I remember taking a biology classes with men and women who were in their 40’s/50’s. We all are at school to learn, to find ourselves, to push us to reach our potential, and that can’t be rushed! It goes at your own pace. Ignore all that outside noise and just know, you’re gonna get to where you want to be no matter what road you take.