I came across a quote emblazoned on the front of a T-shirt recently that read: “College. The best 7 years of my life.”
To add insult to injury was the drawing of an overly gleeful middle-aged man accompanying the impertinent line.
But if you’re like me, this quote, however relatable and sometimes embarrassing, is completely true.
For me, a 24-year-old student perpetually enrolled in a university since graduating high school, college really has been the best seven years of my life…and counting.
Oftentimes I feel as though I am one of the few of my “kind” left: a graduate of the high school class of 2000 still in college, striving to get my meager little bachelor’s degree.
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But I get over that self-deprecating frame of mind quickly when I think to myself, “With this many college years under my belt I could be a doctor by now.”
But I’m not.
For now it is my associate’s degree that is on proud display over my fireplace.
I make myself feel better about my title as a “lifer” and the fact that I am now an elder in the eyes of many fellow students by using my “long work hours” as a defense for still being here.
Apparently, however, this justification has caught on with others in my similar predicament.
I feel I am going to have to start birthing children in order to make my inexcusably long amount of time in school excusable.
Those of you in my shoes probably remember that one momentous instant when you realized you’ve been here too long.
Maybe it was walking into a classroom and realizing that half the people in there still pass notes to each other or idolize the TV show “Laguna Beach.”
Or maybe the moment you realized you were old was when you were being idolized yourself because (Gasp!) you can legally buy alcohol while everyone around you was still shy of their nineteenth birthdays.
There’s something to be said, though, for being in college this long.
For one, we really are a committed and patient bunch.
By this time we have already taken every class, know every professor, janitor, cook, barista, librarian, administrator, student and coach.
We’ve spent our life savings on possibly every textbook known to man which must mean we have learned a lot more than anyone else and we know every building, classroom and secret doorway like the palm of our hand.
And by this time we hope we have mastered the art of the student parking lots, simultaneously accumulating a plethora of old parking passes from the years before.
Besides, “I’m in no rush,” I say.
“Why would I need a bachelor’s degree at 24 years-old anyway?”
(So I can spend time with people my age who don’t have an essay due the next day or a final to study for?)
“A lot of people are still in school.”
(Elementary school, middle school, high school…).
Alas, this is my reality as I am sure it is for many of you.
So, my fellow “lifers” my word of advice to you is this: If you are on the five, 10, even 20-year plan, don’t fret.
We will make it to our graduation one day, shake the hand of the college president and slowly creep off that stage: a walker in one hand and our diploma in the other.