Why spreading out your academic journey can be good for you

Fatima Sarfraz
January 27, 2023
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

You do not need to cram in the most important years of your education even though that is what we have been taught to do  

Being an undergraduate is one of the most important stages of your educational journey.  It is an opportunity for you to work on becoming the best version of yourself, to make yourself a suitable candidate for potential jobs and to build a solid foundation for your future.  

In such a large university with so many diverse disciplines, everyone will be walking a different path and encountering different obstacles.  

For some students, this may mean that they need to take a couple of extra years beyond the average four years expected to complete their degree.  

I notice time and time again that there is a constant stigma around the concept of spreading out your degree. Four years is the norm and anything greater than that means you slacked off in school. 

If you are in this position, it is important to remind yourself that there is no timer that is going to go off after the four years has passed. Everyone’s academic journey is completely different in length and time. 

Taking more time than the four years is more common than individuals may presume. In 2010, across universities in Canada, around 60 per cent of undergraduate students took more than four years to complete their degree. 

In a span of around ten years, most students find themselves making the jump from high school to university and then straight into a job. Though these changes are viewed as mandatory, it can be hard to adapt to them as they are rapid.  

When one spends quite a few years immersing themselves in a discipline, one is bound to unveil their true sentiments toward them as they are able to explore every corner and crevice of the degree. 

The good thing about taking your time during your undergraduate study is that you can slowly start making the transition to working an actual job (if that is what comes next for you). Students are able to opt to go on a work term or work year to gain experience in their desired field where some may also choose to take a university course alongside it. That way they continue to get a bit of both worlds and do not experience as much of a culture shock as they might when jumping straight into a job. 

Another option could be spreading out your workload for a much more manageable school year.  Lightening your course load in the fall and winter terms so that you can focus on specific courses can aid with you giving it the best effort you can. Then you can make sure that the courses dropped are available in the spring and summer terms so that your requirements can be fulfilled during those months. 

If you plan ahead, and plan well, you may even be able to graduate within four years if that is what you desire, finding what is right for you is all that truly matters. But taking an extra year can also help you come to terms with whether you truly like your major and/or where you should shift your energy to, academic wise. 

When one spends quite a few years immersing themselves in a discipline, one is bound to unveil their true sentiments toward them as they are able to explore every corner and crevice of the degree.  

It is quite difficult to do something that is seen as "not normal” to societies eyes. This leads us to  become distracted by what others may think of us, instead of focusing on what may be best for ourselves and we leading us to not make decisions based on what we truly desire.  

It’s important for students to prioritize their mental health and education above others’ opinions. It does not matter how long of a journey it takes for anyone, as long as you get there on your own rate is all that matters. After all, these next few years are especially important.


  • Fatima Sarfraz

    Fatima is in her second year doing Engineering. This is her first year writing for The Silhouette and she has joined as an Opinions staff writer. When she's not studying or writing, Fatima can be found reading, watching Netflix or going out to try new food places.

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