The college experience has steadily changed over time.
Many factors have played into this change: the pricing, the students’ quality of life and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes have affected the way both college students and high school seniors go about making choices for their future.
For many students, one of the most important factors that affect the decision to attend college is the price. According to an article published by Forbes, the U.S. student debt racks up to a total of $1.4 trillion. With college being more expensive than ever, students are forced to adjust their lifestyle in order to afford to attend college.
The fact that college is significantly more expensive each year reveals why it’s necessary to take more than the expected four years to complete college. By choosing to go slightly below the average of 15 units per semester, students are able to push the timeline for paying off student loans and lower the pricing per semester.
Since college is a major investment, students are likely to work part-time in addition to going to school full-time. This leaves minimal time for homework, socializing, sleep or any hobbies. Students being overworked are left feeling depleted and exhausted.
Additionally, being expected to graduate in just four years doesn’t account for not being able to take classes when it’s required. Classes have a tendency to fill up quickly, which leads to students pushing off required courses until they’re able to get in.
For majors with few students, there are typically only one or two options when it comes to required upper-division courses. These classes end up being filled quickly, leaving those unable to secure a spot having to keep their fingers crossed for next semester.
Life is unpredictable, making graduating in just four years an almost impossible feat. When starting college, students are fresh out of high school, yet are expected to choose a career path. These decisions heavily impact students’ futures, which is why there are many students who decide to change their major, go a long time with having an undeclared major or simply just choose to drop out of college.
By taking more than four years to graduate college, students are able to more effectively balance a healthy lifestyle, finances and a social life. Doing less than the typical 15 units per semester allows for students to be able to take care of their mental wellbeing, given that they are a person before they are a student.
Taking more than four years to graduate college is a smart decision in order to maintain a healthy college experience, financially and mentally.
Jaelyn Decena is a transfer student from MSJC majoring in literature and writing studies with a double minor in film/TV production and film studies. She currently holds the position as the Arts & Entertainment section editor at The Cougar Chronicle. A fun fact about her is that she loves Disney and enjoys roller skating.