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When you think about the levels of college status and education, you most likely think about freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors — but what about fifth-year students or higher? 

The average college student is usually programmed to believe that they should only do four years of college and be on their way out with a measly degree in something they might not feel fully passionate about or might have second thoughts about later. Something that many people don’t take into consideration is that some students may have personal issues outside of school or a change in career interests that would affect their ability to graduate as quickly as they initially wanted to.

Various insecurities or problems at home might take a toll on a student’s mental health and keep them distracted from doing as well in their classes or as well as graduation criteria would require them to do, forcing them to retake classes if they find themselves with less than average grades. I am not encouraging people to get bad grades or fail their classes, nor am I trying to give anybody an easy excuse to flunk all the time with no consequences; I’m simply conveying that outside forces can sometimes affect a student’s ability to maintain consistent academic excellence and even halt their plans on a quick, simple, four-year path to graduation.

However, fifth-year students aren’t always a result of academic low points caused by personal circumstances outside of the students’ control. Students can also be held back because of a sudden change of major, forcing them to take more classes to fulfill graduation requirements and stay in college longer than they may have initially intended.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking time to find your passion and purpose and what career field truly suits you. Take your time, make mistakes (harmless ones, of course), learn new things, acquire new skills and brush up on old skills; it’s your journey, and it’s your responsibility to make the best of it and to make decisions along the way. As long as you have the time, patience, passion and, of course, financial aid, then by all means take your time to learn and obtain as much experience and information as you can to get where you desire to be in the future.

As a current fifth-year student myself, I thought it was only appropriate that I use my voice and my platform to write this piece and have this discussion in the first place.

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