Don’t feel bad for still being in college

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CSULB lower campus
I gotta admit, I’ve taken a long time to even get to where I am now. Yes, I’m still in college. Graduating in 4 years is a little harder than what conventional wisdom or opinion dictates. For many reasons such as financial, family support, academic advising, and “pathfinding,” it can take quite a while for one to graduate in college nowadays. This will be quite a long blog post but I feel that I may be able to encourage people who are feeling a little “down” by being in college longer than 4 years. Cheer up, folks! You are not alone!

I think the top reason for not graduating college in time is financial reasons. Sure, there are financial aid options that all of you should consider including scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. However, many college students still struggle to get by due to the rising cost of living. I will not include financial education and being financially responsible on this post but we will talk about that later.

The cost of living such as rent, transportation, groceries, health expenses, and etc. – are simply on the rise. It is hard for those without much parental support to do well in their courses or to register for more courses than the bare minimum due to the lack of financial security. Therefore, many college students I know or knew worked odd jobs or part-time jobs to make sure that they eat, sleep on a comfortable bed, stay in a safe home.

I love talking and learning from those people who worked hard in bars, restaurants, retail stores, and college bookstores while attending school. In return, the same students do not feel comfortable taking on 15-18 units in their universities or community colleges simply because working also takes a lot of their time.

I chose not to work an hourly part-time job because I noticed that it was already hindering my academic progress. Right now, I work as a part-time K-12 tutor; I set my hours so that I may be able to control my schedule when it comes to school.

Nearby Wanderer Ron and Jessica Selfie at PSU

We visited Portland State University this year. Reminiscing about our time in Portland, where we met 5 years ago.

I attended Portland State University for my first-year of college, and then I moved back down to SoCal and attended Orange Coast College (a school I actually loved), and now, I am close to finishing my studies at Cal State University, Long Beach. It is now taking about 6 years just to do all this.

I recently talked to a friend who said that “it can be frustrating to get classes, finish on time, and just graduating from college.” I feel her. I was frustrated, anxious, stressed, and even saddened that I was not one of those who attended college their first year and 4 years later, they’re working at some advertising company or wherever.

Cheer up! Don’t stress. Here’s my advice:

  1. Know, that you are unique. You are different from others and do not compare yourself to others. Social media can do many good things but it also inspires jealousy or envy. You see posts from friends who are doing well (and kudos to them), buying this, traveling here, eating there. They have their path and you have yours.
  2. Focus on the goal. If your goal in the next year or two, is to graduate from college–just focus on that. Do what you have to do. Draw a road map of how you get to that expensive piece of paper. Get help from your academic advisor. As long as you have the patience, you will get there with flying colors.
  3. Enjoy learning. Life is a process and we learn many things from our experiences. I’m not just talking about learning materials from class, but I’m also advocating for learning from the people we meet, the experiences, the time spent at different places. It makes up who we are, after all. Let’s embrace that.
  4. You will eventually graduate and in the mean time, hold your ground. I’ve known many people who complained about taking a long time in college. They just wanted to graduate. Some people made radical decisions like skipping the university altogether and instead just went to a for-profit school which (gets you into more debt). Some dropped out because they were discouraged. Stay the course and hold your ground. Get as much as you can out of your classes, your professors, advisers, friends, etc.
  5. In the mean time, make connections. Seek out people who can help you plan your future career. Seek out advice that may help you get your foot in the door. They’re usually your professors, advisers, and even friends (who know someone who works at this company, the VP of this financial group, etc.); they are your resources.
  6. Try to study abroad. If you have the financial resources whether you can be supported by friends and family, financial aid, scholarships–try to study abroad and learn more about other countries and cultures. Learn a language! (I’m learning French right now, and I think I’m getting pretty good) There’s so much more to see and college may give you that experience.

At least, that’s what I’m doing. Next year, is graduation time and I’m quite excited. Although, I know that I will be those people who will be in school for a very long time even after graduating and earning that Bachelor’s Degree. I intend to get my Masters in Political Science so that I may be able to teach Constitutional Law, or American Government in college. I hope that I have the resources I need and the strength to continue and get a PhD in PoliSci as well. But that’s a whole’nother story.

The point is: Do not feel bad if it’s all taking a while. Enjoy the journey!

If you have any questions about this matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment below. I wish you all the best and I’m rooting for you!

2 Comments
  • kittylimon

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    I needed to read this it really put things into perspective for me, a lot of people make negative remarks about my age (24) and the face that I’m still in education. I chose to go to university at a later age because then I had a better understanding of what I wanted to study but that’s hard for some people to understand.

    • Ron

      Hi Kitty! Yes, it’s better to find out what you really want and not waste time and money just trying to figure it all out. I’m sure you’ve gained a lot of experience during your time before going to University. Wishing you the best of luck!

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