I recently began my 4th, and supposedly final, year of my university studies at Concordia University and I have a horrible secret to expose with everyone. Although university is an enlightening experience where students are able to make lifetime friendships, take their education to a higher level, and hopefully find their true passions in life, there's something that us students aren't being told.
When I was first applying to universities almost every single one of them advertised their schools as 4 year programs and it was basically general knowledge that university would last 4 years and you're out, you're finished school for good. When I spoke to family and friends about my plans for university, their questions would sound like "so, what are your plans for the next 4 years?" or "what university are you choosing to spend your next 4 years at?" The perpetuation of this lie that university would only take 4 years to complete was everywhere.
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The lie didn't stop there, though. Once you start school you're under this assumption that you'll be able to complete all of your required classes in those 4 years. However, this is not the case at all. Most universities won't help you plan your schedule and you're basically thrown into the middle of the ocean without land in sight or a life jacket and told to make it to shore as fast as possible. At least, this is how I'm feeling now that I've made it to my 'final' year.
The truth is, the only way you'll complete your studies in 4 years is if you take 5 classes each semester, which is almost impossible, depending on your program of course. Most programs like business and science, which is my major, have very heavy and time-consuming classes. If you're going to complete your studies in 4 years you'll have to be taking 3-4 extremely tough courses each semester plus 1-2 elective courses. To some students this is no problem, but to most it's almost impossible to keep up with this much work every semester.
If we're feeling ambitious, we'll sign up for 5 courses and in the first couple weeks of school, realize that we were too ambitious and end up dropping one of our elective courses to free up some time to focus on our core classes. It's just way more manageable to take 4 classes each semester.
But, before we know it we're almost a full year behind in our studies! That takes us from finishing our program in 4 years to 5 whole years.. And the university is completely not responsible for lying to us because they didn't actually say it would be 4 years exactly, but they definitely didn't give us the information we needed to finish on time.
Universities don't tell you that you need to be taking 5 courses per semester to finish on time, but they definitely don't tell you that you can't take 4 either. It's all ambiguous and unclear leaving most of us in our supposedly last year of studies, wasting another semester or entire year completing the last few classes that are necessary to graduate.
What this rant is really trying to do is start a discussion about how long it really takes for students to complete a degree that we are told is necessary to get a decent job in this world and to explain to those who might not know already, that your studies are most likely going to take you longer than you expected.
It's just a reality of the secondary education systems, and although it isn't fair at all, we're stuck with it. The only alternative to taking an extra year to complete your studies is to almost kill yourself trying to fit 5 classes into each semester, which doesn't sound that fun either.
So, do you feel like you're on the right track to graduate in 4 years?