As I introduced myself as a fourth year to others in class, many gave me confused looks.
“So, why are you still here? Did you fail a subject or something?”
You know, it’s perfectly normal for people to take longer than the standard 3 years to finish their undergrad degree. In fact – it’s becoming the norm nowadays!
There are many reasons why some take longer to finish their undergrad degrees. Some may have taken time off, some may have studied part-time and worked, and yes – some may have failed their subjects so they had to stick around (not that there’s anything wrong with that. We are only human, not need to judge.)
My reasons for sticking around an extra semester don’t fall into any of the categories above. My decision to stay at Melbourne for another semester was because I couldn’t cope with doing 4 subjects a semester.
I mean, I could’ve done it, but at the expense of my wellbeing.
Doing 4 subjects a semester wasn’t for me
I survived doing 4 subjects a semester in first year just fine. Then I got to second year, and the workload got to me. I found it really hard to juggle 4 subjects, work part-time, run this blog, and deal with life in general!
The first few weeks of second year doing 4 subjects was quite stressful and overwhelming. I was hoping that I would adjust to the increased workload, but things weren’t getting any better.
So I went to my student centre to chat to the advisors about my options, and she floated the idea of dropping down to 3 subjects and extending my degree.
I wasn’t too keen on the idea at first
I have to stick around for an extra semester? Whaaaat?
I really didn’t want to extend my degree because I wanted to graduate with my friends.
But once my head wasn’t clouded with naiive thoughts, I realised it wasn’t that bad of an idea. Sure it would suck not graduating with close friends, but this would work out better for me.
Re-organising my study plan
I underloaded, and did 3 subjects a semester instead of the standard 4. I also enrolled into intensive subjects over summer to free up time during the standard semester.
Side note – I wished someone told me about intensive subjects when I was in first year. Yes they are, intense, but you knock out an entire subject in a week or two and frees up your study load during normal semester.
Dropping down to 3 subjects was great because I’m still classified as a full-time student. If I went down to 2, I’d be part-time and I won’t be eligible for a concession card for public transport (boo!).
So, my study plan structure looks a bit like this:
There have been times where I questioned my decision to stick around an extra semester
You know how I mentioned earlier about how it would suck to not graduate with your friends?
Not going to lie – but yes, it sucked. A lot.
Not graduating with some of my close friends last year was slightly heartbreaking. Although I was really really happy for them, it felt like I was being left behind.
Starting this semester without the usual crew of friends around has been strange and somewhat lonely. Although some of them are now doing postgrad at Melbourne, it’s not the same.
But you know what, extending my degree has worked out in my favour – big time!
The benefits of graduating mid-year
There are a number of positives behind extending your degree and graduating mid-year, here are a few positives I have under my sleeve:
1. I managed to study abroad
Studying overseas has always been something I wanted to do in my degree, but never got around to organising it and left it too late. If I hadn’t extended my degree, I wouldn’t have been to study abroad in Peru last summer!
2. I get to graduate at Wilson Hall
This is probably the best thing about graduating mid-year – getting to graduate at Wilson Hall instead of REB (Royal Exhibition Building).
REB gives me bad exam vibes (for those who are new, REB is also used as an exam venue). Plus I dislike the layout of the stage.
At Wilson Hall, everyone is facing the stage. Whereas in REB, your family and friends are facing the side of the stage, and they can only see you from the big screens.
And another big plus about graduating at Wilson Hall is that ceremony times are shorter because there are less people!
3. Extra time to figure out plans after graduation
Extending my degree has given me extra time to think about that dreaded question – “What are you going to do when you graduate?”
And the answer is, to take time off studying! I’ve been studying for majority of my life, and you know, I need a break and live a little.
Graduating mid-year works out really well for me in that I wanted time off studying, but didn’t want to start Masters mid-year and didn’t want to take a whole year off studying (if this makes any sense at all).
So, it’s a win-win.
4. I have extra time to enjoy my degree!
Doing 3 subjects instead of 4 has freed up time for me to enjoy life a little more. I don’t want to look back at my time at uni and regret not going to all the fun social events, and I don’t want my time at uni to be 100% about the books.
There needs to be a healthy mix of academia and umm…social outings.
So, if you’re finding it tough juggling 4 subjects – the option to reduce your study load and extending your degree is there. I can’t say how it’s worked out for other people in this boat, but I’m glad I took this option.