As a fifth-year university student right on the edge of real world glory, my every-day mantra is graduate, buckle down for internship experience, graduate, searches for shiny new potential jobs, graduate—did I mention graduate? I’m a military kid attending college in Florida while my family is living back in Germany. Now I’ve blown past the spring graduation of my fourth year, considering a summer graduation or even a fall graduation. Have I learned anything about the follies of planning and telling people an actual date when I’ll graduate? Apparently not.
Going through the pre-grad stress of deciding my schedule for the spring term, my last term, proved unbearable. Battling the credit crunch and police line-up of requirements, I can honestly say that “the struggle [was] real” trying to focus on both school and the upcoming black hole of the real world. It’s not November and the stress still feels prevalent. Ring goes my phone. I pick it up, and have the call that would be a graduation game changer.
Lets back up a bit; how did I end up becoming a fifth-year college student in the first place? It begins with me not having an answer to the age old question, What do you want to be when you grow up? So I decided to follow my passion for ancient history and become a (duh duh duuuuh!)…classical archaeology major. For the first few years it was a fantastic and fun major, until the Latin language courses hit, making the area of study lose its gleam.
Naturally, I did what many other college students do and switched majors in the middle of my college career, this time to English. Unfortunately, but not unforeseeably, there isn’t a lot of overlap between the two studies. So here I am, a fifth-year student with an almost completed English major and a nifty art history minor.
Going back to the original story, I’m sure you’re wondering what that suspicious phone call from Germany was all about. Did the government conscript me to act as a new secret agent with my unique skills of English and art history? Did an international team of historical explorers scout me, overlooking my lack of graduation in order to invite me to their team? Now that I sufficiently overhyped it, I can tell you the call was really just a slice of reality that helped me re-look at the way I viewed graduation and entering the work place: Intentionally postponing graduation.
Now isn’t that a snazzy twist! After lamenting over my unintentionally postponing of graduation, now I’m being thrown the concept of intentionally postponing it? Say what?
Working as teachers for the military overseas in Europe, while I attend college in the states, it’s hard for my parents to travel during the school year, making it unlikely that they can attend my graduation if it landed in May. Postponing my graduation until summer allows them to be able to come over to the states and celebrate my accomplishment with me.
Now you may be saying, “Hooray for you, but that’s a unique circumstance where it obviously makes sense to do so, not a whole new concept of reality for looking at graduation.” And you’d be mostly right, but the more I thought on it, the more I began to see the positive consequences of intentionally postponing graduation by a semester.
First off, doing so allows me to split my last requirements in half and finish my last semesters as a part-time student, giving me some much-needed breathing room as I contemplate my next step. Instead of trying to juggle a circus act’s worth of a full-time school schedule with attempting to get a foothold in the job market, I can instead focus on combining the two in perfect harmony without letting any of the balls drop. If I feel particularly adventurous and curious, postponing graduation allows me to continue meeting the student requirements for a full-time intensive summer internship with a large company.
Asking around with friends and family, I realized that I wasn’t the only person considering such an option. The reasons for doing so were as endless as the different circumstances. It turns out, once you pass the stigma of not acting like a student barreling full-speed to graduation, there are actually many reasons to intentionally postpone graduation in order to get the best experiences out of the hundreds of resources offered to college students.
While this might sound incredibly sparkly and amazing, I’m not advocating this as a solution for every student out there nervous about graduation or having trouble deciding what they want to do; you have to juggle the negative consequences of potentially added costs with your reasons for postponing it. I considered my own housing costs, but realized that since I already had a lease for an apartment over the summer, postponing until then wouldn’t make much of a difference in that regard.
Overall though, sometimes it can be positive experience to just slow down for once and take in your college experience for what it is—an invaluable chance to grow and utilize unique resources. Take it from a fifth-year university student: It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get to graduation, but it does matter how and what you did do to get there.