Complete college at your own pace, take advantage of the opportunities

September 12, 2016

Megan Lunsford

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     You sit in the bleachers for graduation ceremony at the Broadmoor World Arena, and watch as most of your friends at UCCS walk across the stage with their square black caps, gowns and diplomas in hand knowing you still have a few semesters left to go.

     People you had GPS class with as a freshman are now ahead of you and the freshmen in the GPS class you were a JTA for even graduated before you.

     Now you’re stuck in an awkward limbo between junior and “kind-of-senior” year, still not really knowing when your graduation date will be.

     But guess what? You’re not alone.

     Now, more often than not, college students are breaking out of the longtime tradition that dictates a four-year degree.

     Life is tough, and it’s not as easy as everyone said it would be to get a bachelor’s degree in four years. Taking a full-time load of 12 or more credits a semester is tough enough as it is, and adding a job, homework, sports, clubs and time with loved ones can leave a college student feeling drained.

     The standing requirement of the four-year graduation window has become less common and is opening doors for nontraditional students to complete their education at their leisure.

     Only 19 percent of students graduate on time at non-flagship public universities, according to USA Today.

     I’ve attended UCCS for three years and take around 12 credit hours each semester.

     I’m about 48 credit hours away from the bare minimum requirement of 120 credit hours for my degree. I’m a first-generation college student; my parents expected me to go to a university right after high school.

     Last week, my dad pestered me about why it’s taking so long to get my degree, and it started to get me down.

     I felt like I wasn’t good enough until I realized that the person I’m completing this education for is me.

     I’m not going to school for anyone else. I am getting my degree for me and only me.

     The fact that I’m taking my time to soak up the opportunities that I can while I’m a student at UCCS shouldn’t be negative.

     There are many opportunities I could have missed had I rushed to just get my diploma with everyone else.

     I’ve been truly blessed with a chance to learn from talented professors and learn alongside exceptional classmates.

     My suggestion is to not rush through your undergraduate degree.

     There’s no point in being so stressed that you start to hate school.

     Remember your mental health is important, and everyone needs a break sometimes.

     You might as well get the best out of your time at UCCS. Be thankful for the opportunities presented to you, and seize them, because, hey, you’re not paying over $5,000 a semester for nothing.