This blog post was written by Alicia Valko, a Campus Ambassador and former intern from Towson University. Alicia is currently studying abroad in Rome and will be graduating in May.
This week, I registered for my last semester of college – eek! While I will be graduating in May, many of my friends and classmates will not. For various reasons, several of my friends will defer graduation; some for just an extra semester and some for up to 2 additional years. They will become super seniors, and if you’re unsure of what a super senior is… think Van Wilder in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder or Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School. Some friends decided to change majors, others couldn’t get into the classes they needed to stay on track; but for whatever reason, they are postponing graduation.
While many will tell you that universities are making it impossible to get a degree in four years, it is definitely still possible. In fact, some universities (like Cal State) will begin charging students for staying in college after they’ve completed their 120 credits. That’s a big incentive to try to graduate on time!
During those precious four years of college, it is not only possible to graduate, but it’s possible to have the full college experience without sacrificing anything. In my four years, I was involved in several student organizations, held on-campus jobs, added an Italian minor, completed 7 internships, and studied abroad for a semester – all while maintaining above a 3.5 GPA. Here are a few tips on how to graduate in four years without sacrificing the college experience:
1. Figure out what career path interests you in BEFORE you finish your freshman year.
By the time you are 18 or 19, you should be able to declare a major and stick with it. So many people declare a major without doing any sort of research into the job possibilities, and then decide to switch majors during their junior year (to another major they probably didn’t research). I suggest just reading the department web pages for every major at your school and eliminate any major that doesn’t sound appealing. If you’re still unsure, talk to your advisor.
2. Find a professor that you like and ask them to be your academic advisor.
Be in touch with them regularly to make sure you are on track to complete all of your major requirements on time. Map out your classes ahead of time with your advisor so you know which classes to take and when to take them.
3. Find out the requirements for getting credit for your internships. Talk to your career center find good internships for your major and make sure you get academic credit for them! You should have at least 1 or 2 internships before graduating if you want to stay competitive in the job market.
4. Try to study abroad.
Many students think studying abroad will cause them to have to stay in college longer, but it’s not true these days. Your classes abroad should transfer in your home institution, making it possible to stay on track. Studying abroad has been the best experience of my life and I don’t have to make up any credits.
If you monitor your degree requirements, it’s possible to get through college in four years without sacrificing the college experience. Have fun!