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  • Mansirat Chahal

Debunking the 4-Year Degree Myth

A common misconception held among many university students – including me at one point - is that it’s crucial to finish your degree within 4 years. In the upcoming fall semester, I’ll be a third-year criminology student and the sad reality is, that there’s no way I’ll be graduating within the next two years. Fortunately, I’ve learnt it’s safe to say that it’s completely normal and more common than one may actually think. Taking more than 4 years to finish your undergraduate most definitely does not make your degree worth any less or should make you feel any less accomplished. It’s important to understand that your university experience is not limited to your mandatory courses.

Although some level of stress can be expected as part of academia, your undergraduate journey shouldn’t be constantly stressful. It’s essential to find a healthy balance between your academic pursuits and extracurriculars as well as work on building personal and professional relationships while exploring further interests. Instead of solely focusing on your primary studies, consider approaching these few years as a time for not only personal growth but discovering hidden passions.

One way to do this is by choosing the right electives!

Electives offer a chance to engage in secondary endeavors so make sure to assess your electives accordingly. Don’t just take GPA boosters because your friend said it was an easy class. Am I guilty of this? I mean, of course! But I’m here to help you prevent making the same mistakes as I did. I came into SFU as an intended political science major and decided to take an introductory criminology course to fill in a few gaps in my schedule. Two semesters later, I switched to a criminology major and intended a minor in political science instead.

The point here is, explore subjects outside of your major and take electives that spark your curiosity. In the case that you do have a particular field of interest alongside your major, consider pursuing a minor. Doing so allows one to gain a broader range of opportunities in multiple fields that one is passionate about. Minor studies can often act as a bridge between different disciplines. Although criminology and political science go hand in hand, your minor does not necessarily need to align with your primary academic objectives at all. At the end of the day, you get to choose what you learn!

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