Every student goes to college expecting it to be a four-year/eight-semester adventure. The reality is that many students take longer than four years to graduate. There are good reasons to extend your stay in college, and ones that are simply an act of negligence.
Here are the good reasons to extend your stay in college.
- Study abroad – You may want to experience a semester studying out of the country. The courses you take may not count for your degree.
- Co-op experience – A co-op is a professional experience where you take a semester off from college classes. These experiences can be very valuable financially and academically.
- Family or health emergencies – You may need to take off a semester to deal with situations beyond your control.
- Minors or dual majors – You may want to pursue additional course work to obtain a second degree or a minor. Certificates could also fit into this category.
The bad reasons for extending your stay in college include:
- Reducing your course load – When students are reducing their course load, it’s generally because they didn’t make the effort and needed to drop a class.
- Multiple failures – Students who repeatedly fail classes are either not making the effort or they may be in a major that is not right for them.
- Delaying graduation for another – Students will often delay their graduation in order to graduate with another – most often a boyfriend or girlfriend. This is a very expensive way to stay together.
- You want to stay on for one more football season or simply enjoy the college life for another semester.
Here are some perspectives you might want to consider when thinking of lengthening your stay in college.
- An extra semester in college costs not only an extra semester’s tuition. It also involves the loss of 4 – 9 months of wages.
- The final semester in college can be a real downer since most of your friends will be gone.
- Should you fail classes, you should be able to get caught up in the summer. You don’t need another complete semester.
- An advisor can help you plan your schedule so you can complete your degree on time even if you need to retake classes or complete a minor. A second degree will in most cases require additional time.
While the time to graduate is greater than four years on a national average, you shouldn’t need an extra semester if you plan ahead and have a focus on academics..