No skin off my four-year degree: Don’t rush through university

Your career is not your life. How you spend your time in college, however, can shape what your life looks like. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

Elise Gregg | Editor-in-Chief 

From AP classes to dual enrollment to 4+1 programs, students have plenty of opportunities to further their education.

It starts early too. I remember parents and advisors in high school asking me if I wanted to do College Academy to complete my associate’s before I’d ever stepped foot onto a college campus.

I was a good student but also stubborn, so my answer was a resounding no. I was determined to enjoy being a teenager before starting university. 

When I was a freshman, I had a mix-up with my advisor, and I took a slew of political science classes that I probably didn’t need to graduate. Later, toward the end of my junior year of college, I realized I could either graduate a couple of semesters early or take some extra classes as part of a minor in criminal justice and a certificate program for law, ethics and society. 

Looking back, I’m glad I took my time and did the extra classes. 

I’m writing this as a graduate student – I started my master’s early through FIU’s 4+1 program for criminal justice. If I had taken any of the opportunities I had to complete my undergraduate faster, my circumstances probably wouldn’t have worked out to do my graduate degree. 

It’s not that I could see the future to pick out the exact classes I’d need to maximize my time in university, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns in deciding that my education was something I enjoyed, not something I rushed through. 

Some students don’t have the same luxury – some need to complete an education quickly for work or financial reasons. I have absolute respect and admiration for students in that situation. 

But, for the rest of us 18 to 20-something-year-olds who don’t have that extra stress, there should be no rush to get through education. It’s something to be enjoyed and savored. 

University life only lasts so long. Unless you really love your job, maximizing the amount of time you’ll be working is unnecessary, especially by minimizing the amount of time you’ll be a student. 

All students should take as many classes as their degree, scholarships and life circumstances permit. I could have graduated a year early. But instead, I filled that time with a year’s worth of classes I enjoyed and learned from. 

If I had only done the necessary classes, I probably would’ve been able to do journalism still. But instead, I learned a ton in my international relations, criminal justice and political science classes – all of which I can use as a journalist. 

Even if I couldn’t, I don’t think it would matter. I enjoyed, learned and grew from those classes. And they were good exercises in connecting with the world around me. 

No skin off my four-year degree. 

I don’t believe every aspect of education needs a tangible, vocational payoff. The job market being what it is today, I think very few people have the luxury of pursuing an entire degree just for the pleasure of learning.

However, you should take every chance possible to enjoy learning. University is the perfect time for students to seize the opportunity to grow, learn about their world and engage with other individuals in higher education, even if they never use that knowledge or those experiences in a career. 

Your career is not your life. How you spend your time in college, however, can shape what your life looks like.


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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