Do You Need To Graduate College In 4 Years?

​Do You Need To Graduate College In 4 Years?
 ​Do You Need To Graduate College In 4 Years?
 John D’Amico  

For those of you who don’t know, I graduated from Rutgers University back in May 2016. And the other day, I met someone who is currently a student at Rutgers. After telling her that I recently graduated, she told me that she still had a year and a half until she graduated. And she sounded like she might have been mildly frustrated by this.

Now, I don’t know anything else about this young woman’s college experience. But this conversation got me thinking about something that I’ve heard people talk about before. And that is, “how important is it really to graduate from college after four years?”.
The short answer is that it’s not necessarily as important as you might think. Although, it could be important depending on your individual circumstances – factors like time and money.
But for now, let’s focus on the situations when it’s understandable. There could be several valid reasons why someone might not be able to finish college in four years. For me, there were a few factors.
 
What’s your starting point?

Firstly, it actually took me two and a half years to get my Associate’s Degree at Brookdale Community College. I thought it would only be two. But once I got close to the end of those first two years, I found out it usually takes a minimum of five semesters to finish up there, unless you’re going to take something like five courses a semester. And this definitely would have been too much for me to handle.

What’s your financial situation? I also knew a lot of people from my community college who could only afford to take a couple of courses per semester. So of course, if they eventually transferred over to a university, they wouldn’t have been able to finish their education in four years either.

Do your credits count? And once I transferred to Rutgers, I found out that a decent amount of my courses didn’t transfer over in a way that I could use them towards getting my Bachelor’s Degree, despite me sort of being misled to think otherwise. So I had to take some courses at Rutgers that I didn’t think I would need to. And this was all really out of my control. Lesson learned though, pay attention to your prerequisites and seek out good advice.
 
How are your grades? Then there could be the problem of not passing and then having to retake a class or two at some point. Sometimes this can happen. You’re not perfect. This was actually the last thing that caused me to end up being in college for a total of five years. If not for that, I could have finished in four and a half years.
 
 
This kind of stuff happens to a lot of people. And as long as you can afford to do it, it’s not something worth feeling too badly about. It’s not that big a deal. A college degree is absolutely essential in today’s competitive job market. And if you have no choice but to take an extra semester or two to get it, then there’s nothing really wrong with that. In the long run, it very likely won’t matter. 

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