How To Deal With Not Graduating On Time

After graduating from high school, I was excited to go off to college and start the next chapter of my life. Even though high school came with a few challenges, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle and I (at the time) thought college would be on the same playing field. However, once my college experience started I quickly learned that college is very different from the high school halls I once walked. For the first time in my academic career, I found myself dealing with mental health issues, high-stress levels, and even physical health issues. By sophomore year, my body was so ill that I had to check myself into the hospital, and it was there that I was diagnosed with crohn’s disease. Because of this diagnoses I was in and out of the hospital and had to leave school for a while, which made me sad. All my friends were still on track to graduate and I was a little embarrassed because I felt that I was falling behind. My entire life I had heard that undergrad should be completed in four years and I knew there was no way I’d be graduating in that time span. Some time has passed since I was initially diagnosed with crohn’s and even though most of my friends have graduated by this point, I am still in school. However, I’m no longer embarrassed or sad about that fact. I had to learn that it’s okay if it takes you longer than four years to finish and I’m going to share with you what I wish someone had told me about how to cope with not graduating on time.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Your Peers:

When I was in the hospital and had to leave school for a bit, I spent so much of that time stalking my college friends’ social media accounts. I would constantly compare what their lives appeared to be to my actual reality. I completely forgot that we were literally on two separate paths in two separate places in our lives. Comparing your own college journey to those around you will only drive you crazy! Just focus on your own path, and know that the path you’re on was made just for you.

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There Is Nothing Wrong With Taking Your Time:

In a perfect situation; we would all graduate in four years or less and leave school with a job offer in hand. However, this is the real world and things are far from perfect. There is nothing wrong with taking longer than four years to graduate college! Sometimes obstacles will pop up, and even if they slow you down, all that matters is that you don’t allow them to stop you. If you have a goal to graduate then just keep pushing towards that goal and remember that slow and steady can win the race.

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Taking Time Off Is NOT The End Of The World:

Even though I had to leave school for medical reasons, I still felt so bad about it. I wish someone had told me that taking a break from school (for any reason) is perfectly okay! Your university will always be there waiting for your return. Taking breaks from college is actually more common than you might think. If you have to leave school for any reason never be ashamed of that and know you can always come back when you’re ready too.

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You’re Not Falling Behind:

One of the hardest things I struggled with about not graduating on time was the fear that I was falling behind. I had to learn that what is for me is for me and nothing and no one can take away my blessings. My advice to anyone who may feel that they’re behind is to trust that you are right where you need to be! The time for everything you ever dreamed of having will come. You will graduate, you will get that dream job, you will get that dream car, and you will succeed! I know that it’s easier said than done, but don’t stress about the future too much. Instead of trying focusing on your present and have faith that it all will work out just fine.

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When I finally went back to school after my medical leave, I found myself still feeling a little down. The day I was supposed to graduate had come and went and I was still in a college classroom.  Thankfully, my mom noticed my foul mood and told me “you didn’t miss anything, and you will graduate when you were truly meant to do so.” Hearing that piece of advice from my mother filled me with so much-needed peace. It helped me realize that I shouldn’t be focusing so heavily on this “four-year graduation pace” that society tries to force on us. I will graduate when I’m meant to and until then I’ll be sure to enjoy every moment of college that I have, and I strongly advise you to do the same. Keep working, keep pushing, and keep fighting. Also, remember that no matter how long it takes you when you do finally graduate, that you are right on time!

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Twila-Amoure McDaniel49 Posts

Twila-Amoure McDaniel is a college student who is majoring in both communications and film studies. When she isn't in class she is more than likely somewhere making videos for her YouTube channel. Her passions include writing, art, and film-making and she currently has plans on going into the film industry. Twila-Amoure does have crohn's disease, however she is very determined not to allow that to stop her from achieving all of her goals in life. Be sure to follow her on all on her social media platforms @TwilaAmoure and feel free to browse through Campus Lately for more of her work.


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