College should be treated as journey

I decided this week to postpone my graduation date another semester and graduate next spring instead of this coming fall. After taking several days to consider the pros and cons of my decision, I finally came to the realization that graduating a semester later than I originally planned and taking less classes each semester is going to be much more beneficial to my overall well-being than trying to rush and graduate in Dec.

Quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure why so many students want to rush through Tech. I understand whole-heartedly that it is easy to let this school completely break you down. Trust me, I’ve been there. But there is no shame in taking five (or more) years to graduate instead of four years. It makes life a whole lot easier. It also makes college a whole lot more enjoyable. I’m pretty sure we can all stand getting any extra enjoyment we can get our hands on.

How is it possible to enjoy anything when taking a 21-hour semester? I can barely manage to enjoy much of anything while taking 12-hour semesters. I can’t imagine taking over 18 hours and still trying to do well in my classes without totally losing my mind. It often feels like Tech’s goal is to make life miserable, so there is no need for students to go out of their way to help out with that. I think most of us already have enough on our plates without adding eight extra hours to a semester.

I completely understand the position that I’ve heard countless times: “I just want to get out.” Whether or not you’re someone who’s planning on continuing your education by going to grad school, I think we all “just want to get out.” I want to get out as much as anyone else, but I don’t want to look back on my days at Tech and not be able to think of more than two things about my time here that I sincerely enjoyed.

Instead of being miserable with over-packed semesters, push some of it off until the summer semester. Over the years I have come to really enjoy taking classes during the summer. Even though it doesn’t give you a “break” in the sense that you aren’t taking classes for a few months, it does give you a break from the over-crowded library, classrooms and sidewalks we’ve all come to know and love.

I’ve found the summer semesters are much more laid back with respect to class pace and intensity. Some of my favorite classes at Tech are ones I have taken during a summer semester. The smaller class size also means more individual attention from professors, which can lead to research opportunities or someone of importance in your field of study to write you a recommendation. I’ve also made a lot more friends during summer classes due to smaller class size and the fact that there is actually enough time to socialize with other people.

Another plus about not rushing into graduation is that there is more time for you to figure out what your interests are instead of your major’s curriculum laying out for you what your interests as, say a Mechanical Engineer, should be. Branch out. Take classes outside of your major.

Take classes besides the electives that are required. You might actually find a topic that you really enjoy. It’s possible some of you CS majors out there would thoroughly enjoy learning about different Media texts or Public Policy. The only way to find that out is to branch out and take classes besides ones that are required for graduation. Maybe you’ll even find a minor in the process.

Universities, once upon a time, used to be intended to create individuals who were proficient in many areas of study. Instead of graduating detailed knowledge in one area of study, you would graduate as a “Jack of all trades,” if you will. There are many benefits to having a vast array of skills and interests that can be applied.

So before you decide to over-schedule and over-work yourself next semester with 20 hours of course-work, take a step back and consider your happiness before you decide you want to rush into graduation. Enjoy your time in college and learn everything you can about as many topics as you can. Happier, less stressed students means a better environment for all of us. If people didn’t seem so miserable, I would definitely be less stressed out.

Whether or not you take the advice, at least take it to heart and do what you think will be more beneficial to your well-being during your brief time in college.