Don’t sweat the four-year plan

Saul Cruz


A common myth surrounding college life is that it’ll only take four years from you and at the end you will be rewarded with a dream job. In reality, graduation rates are proving that the average is five years to complete your degree, and a degree no longer means landing a secure job.

This change has been happening for decades. In recent years we have finally shifted the average graduation rate from four to five. But it isn’t impossible to graduate in four years, and many do graduate in that time. 

However, what is this the most important thing, and why do we look to the four-year plan as being the best?

To many of the students attending CSU Bakersfield, graduating in four years is becoming more of a stroke of luck rather than the standard, and because of this our thought processes around the four-year plan are changing as well. 

Instead of believing that they must graduate in four years, students are becoming aware that there isn’t anything negative that happens when you come back for a fifth year. Rather, this year is becoming the jumping off point for many students, as they are sure of their graduation status and (typically) have a lighter class load while they are using the year to apply for post-grad jobs. 

For those still interested in graduating in four years, it still can be done, but will take a lot of cooperation between both students and their advisors. This presents an issue on any campus as advising can be hard to come by, particularly individual advising. 

Matthew Phillips, a junior majoring in natural sciences, states, “It’s okay not to graduate in four years.”

This is understandable, as many of us come against unknown obstacles that can impede us on the way to graduation. When asked if he had any tips on graduating in four years, Phillips said to “go to class every day, know when to say no to your friends, don’t wait for the last minute to study, and remember the reason why you came to college.”

Luis Mendez, a senior majoring in Art Education, took a more internal approach when asked the same question. 

“I think the first thing that has to be implemented is self-motivation. Without self-motivation students wouldn’t be able to finish readings, homework, papers, classes, the semester, the year, ultimately their education. So, before attending college and committing to your own education, one must ask themselves if they are willing to finish what they start,” he said. 

In the end, graduating in four years is becoming a hassle, not a standard, and there should be no shame felt in using a fifth year to graduate. The stigma surrounding taking your time is lessening, and if you do decide to take on college life for a fifth year, be sure to optimize that time and use it to advance your life after graduation as well.

Isabela Padilla, a senior in the Nursing program, is currently in her fifth year and is on track to graduate on time for the program. 

“I’ve been on my five-year track since I started college and to be honest, the only way to stay on track is to study regularly. Not just the weekends or right before a test. I’ve seen so many people drop out early because they didn’t understand the course content and failed exams when there were literally months to prepare, dozens of tutors available, professor office hours, and millions of online websites. I think the best way to stay on track is to use your resources before you need them,” she says.