By: Nathan Tok, Peak Associate
Often the world pressures us into living quickly and moving ahead in life “on schedule.” But is that always wise? There are many benefits to graduating “on time” within the standard four years. These include getting into the working world sooner and earning a living, or getting your parents off your case. Being able to put a four-year completion of your degree on your LinkedIn profile shows employers you are driven and can finish things on time. We all know this. However, there are also benefits to taking more time before graduating than the usual four-year schedule.
University life is full of opportunities, to start with. Rushing through a degree means less time spent getting the most out of these opportunities. Think about it, students are in the midst of a community of scholars and professionals all working to make a difference in the world. How often have we received emails from professors looking for RAs for meaningful research, or an SFU department doing outreach looking for students to take part in community service? These are valuable work experience and networking opportunities that students should take their time with.
Or perhaps students need a temporary job. Yeah, a friend of a classmate knows someone who needs a person to do some casual work in that field for a few months, a few hours a week. They can’t pay much but it’s something. When students graduate these wide-ranging connections are less readily available. Graduates are no longer fed information and opportunities through an active and mixed social network — they have to actively seek them out.
Despite the secondary perks of university, the fact is that taking advantage of all these opportunities means taking time away from studying, which can delay graduation. But that’s not a bad thing. Building up a resume is something we can all agree is essential.
Students are also given more leeway and freedom to explore and to work on themselves along with their degrees. Not satisfied with your program? Take an extra year and add a minor. Want to take some time off school to travel? Go ahead, try out exchange for a couple of extra terms. At perhaps no other time in life are adults able to have the freedom to explore, take opportunities as they come, and fail without being harshly penalized by society.
These personal explorations become harder to fit into life and responsibilities when people start working. Not happy with your job? Too bad you have a degree in that field and bills to pay. Feeling lost? You can’t just take months off to work on yourself or to explore different paths. You have responsibilities and people who depend on you. No longer is it grades but actual lives that are at stake.
University is hard work yes, but so is everything else. It is worth it to take some more time to grow before spreading our wings and flying away. While some students don’t have a choice but to get done with university as quickly as possible, if you’re in a situation that you can take your time, can explore what the university has to offer and more importantly, explore yourself, then I highly recommend taking your time with your degree. Use that extra time to get to know what you really want, and who you really are before you leave school.