Hegde: The dreaded timeline of a college career

Not every college student follows the same path to get to the career of their choice; however, many students still feel pressured to fit into a specific timeline.

Freshman Carley Stepanek studies her notes in a Hillcrest lounge on a rainy Monday. Stepanek was studying for her biology final with a group of her friends.

Tawny Schmit

Freshman Carley Stepanek studies her notes in a Hillcrest lounge on a rainy Monday. Stepanek was studying for her biology final with a group of her friends.

Suchaeta Hegde, Opinion Columnist

Before entering undergrad, there is usually an idea of how your college career will be. Go to a college for four years, take the necessary classes, and graduate. What is not always accounted for is life.

Some people begin college with a lot of credits and decide to graduate early. Others have all the means and motivation to stay an extra year to take additional classes. Sometimes, courses need to be taken twice for the material to set in. There are those who start and end in the same major and those who change their focus every other semester.

No one’s goals are exactly the same, and none of the routes listed are detrimental to a person’s future. If given the chance then, would students be unafraid to stray from the given path?

To see how other college students felt about sticking to the traditional time line, I posed questions on Facebook. Out of 23 responses, almost 70 percent of people would consider graduating early, and a large majority of people would also consider staying an extra year.

I noticed that the answers that discussed the end game were a lot more certain than those that questioned the journey until graduation. For example, when asking whether people would ever retake a class, the responses became mixed.

While a plurality, 39.1 percent of the responses, said they would not retake a course, 26.1 percent of students gave alternate responses that detailed in what scenario they would consider redoing a class. Almost all of the people who wrote alternate responses said they would be hesitant to retake a course because they worried it would cause them to fall behind, even though more than 50 percent of people said they wouldn’t mind taking an extra year to complete additional courses.

I took this to mean that the stigma of falling behind overshadows the acceptance of an alternative time line.

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In one of the questions, I posed a scenario:

You are at a point when you have taken an adequate number of classes and are completing your last years of college but realize that you want to take on more or you feel that the field you are in does not suit you. I then asked whether the students would consider starting something new at that point in their college careers.

I was surprised to see that most of the responses would stick to a path, even if they knew it wasn’t necessarily for them; more than 12 people said “it would be too much to start over from scratch” and it would be easier to “figure out how to use [their current major] to make [them] happy.” There were also people who said they couldn’t afford to switch paths and needed to get started on their careers. I found that rather than stay in school and start over, many people would prefer to move past college and find their passion in the next phase of life.

Perhaps even more fascinating were those who were more than ready to say yes to starting over. Ffeshman Taylor Hatch said she would be willing to start anew because “you should love what you do” and a future plan “is a life decision that will impact you forever.” Hatch’s response is worth considering; in trying to save time, are students looking past their true passions and sentencing themselves to a lifetime of regret?

UI sophomore Connor Johnson had no doubts in his answer: “It’s all about pursuing what you love, and if you are capable of attaining it without destroying your life financially, you have to go for it. Always.”

In the end, I think that my belief doesn’t matter, because people’s future paths are their own to sculpt and design to their liking; I just hope that none hold themselves back simply because they worry that they are deviating from the standard.