10 Things I Learned From NOT Graduating On Time

Person: How is school going Benjamin?

Me: It's going good! Ready to be done, but I'm pushing through.

Person: So when are you graduating?

Me: 

Not graduating on time has become the norm, but that doesn't make me feel any better about taking a long time to walk across that stage. If you're anything like I was, you think your degree holds the key to your success ( Alternative Fact). With most of my friends having earned their Bachelor's degree and even a handful with MBA's, it's hard to not to get discouraged sometimes! So with graduation season underway, this is for everyone who is not graduating on time (for the first time or again) for any reason! Here are 10 things that I realized along the way to my goal of graduating that has kept me encouraged over the last 6 years! I hope these reminders will encourage you as well!

1. Your Pace is the Best Pace

Pacing yourself is the most important thing I learned while going through college. Though I only started to understand this recently, it has helped me to stay positive about my situation. Pace is not only an important key to graduating, but also to keeping your sanity. Not feeling rushed to feel the need to take 15 credits while you work full time ( I cried every night that semester), but also not feeling complacent only taking one class when you know you are capable to do more. Doing what you are capable of is key, and understanding that everyone has their OWN pace is a MAJOR KEY. In the book "Maximizing Your Potential" by Myles Munroe,  he has a great quote about capacity and how your capacity is not based on any outside force.

Your true capacity is not limited, reduced, or altered by the opinion of others or your previous experience.
— Myles Munroe "Maximizing Your Potential"

2. Your Patience Will be Tested and Will Grow! 

If this ain't the truth! Your patience will continuously be tested while in school, but this isn't a bad thing! Let the obstacles you face increase your patience and perseverance. We've all had to wait till next semester to take that one class, wait to apply for that job because of that stupid degree requirement ( we will get to this later), or retake that class for a better grade. Understanding that the grind you're on may seem like a "work hard now and reward will come later" type of game, but in reality you are reaping the reward now with the growth of your patience and perseverance. Everything revolves around staying patient and persevering. When you understand this, you are ok with doing your time in this hell, I mean this prison, I mean this wonderful place called college! It's hard to be patient sometimes, but in my experience patience and perseverance will make you a better person and college graduate! 

3. Most Judgement is From Within

As millennials, we like to compare our self to others to judge how WE are doing. So I found that while we judge ourselves, we trick ourselves to think that judgement comes from an outward place. In realty, I learned that the people you talk to about graduating goes something like this: 33% really doesn't care about you not finishing on time, 33% are or were in the same place as you so they understand, 33% are genuinely cheering for you, and there may be 1% of people who judge you. The point is........WHO CARES! Stop comparing yourself and judging yourself off of what others are doing! When you let this go, you will find peace in your situation just like I did!

4. Jobs Care, but Do They Really?

My first accounting job ( my field of study) was at a transportation company. The qualifications of the job were: Bachelors Degree in accounting preferred (recent college grad), Associates Degree in accounting required, and 2 years experience in the field of accounting amongst other things. So I applied, though I was still grinding for my associates degree and only had 6 months experience in the field of accounting. So when I interviewed, I told her I was 2 classes away from my associates degree with hopes of getting my bachelors degree the next year. I also told her that I was the man for the job and what I lacked in experience, I made up in hardwork and dedication. I met the owner on my second interview, and he was the BIGGEST HATER! "No degree, no experience I wouldn't hire you but it's her call.", he said. She hired me a few days later! She later told me I got the job due to my charisma, personality, and my plea of dedication and hard work to her. I later became a valuable asset to the company. A degree is not everything when it comes to getting a solid job right now. If you want to get a full time job or jump into your career while pursuing your degree, don't let not having a degree hold you back! It looks good on your resume but it's more to it than the that piece of paper! Yes, a degree will maximize your money, but you don't necessarily need it to a secure a decent sized bag right now!

5. College is Actually Pretty Hard

To contrary belief, college is actually hard, and the last few semesters, LAWD HAVE MERCY! We forget this sometimes! I was getting discouraged about not doing as well as I wanted to in one of my accounting classes, and my mom said, " It's called advanced accounting for a reason!". Remember that when you are getting discouraged. College is supposed to be challenging and you actually have to work really hard! You will struggle, you will get confused, and you may fail an assignment/test or two. Understanding that college is not supposed to be easy will make your life in college much better!

6. It's too Late to Quit

It's too late to give up! Why throw all of your hard work and money down the toilet?! You work so hard on something for 4, 5, or 6 years ( 7 years in my case), why would you throw it all away? All the time you spent on homework, all the money you spent on books and classes ( and the money you WILL HAVE TO PAY BACK). It's too late to give up because you came this far. I think about quitting school everyday, but knowing that my father " Ain't raise no quitter" and understanding that though this is stressful and seems like it will never end, this too shall pass! 

7. Graduating is an Accomplishment of a Life Time

Graduating from college is an accomplishment of a life time. There are thousands of people who drop out of college every year due to the financial strain, the work load, etc. No, college is not for everyone and is not the only way to be successful financially; but showing that you can persevere, your years of focus and dedication, and your willingness to prevail is what champions are made of!   

8. After You Graduate, Nothing Really Changes

After you graduate, nothing really changes in regard to time. If you feel you don't have any time for anything else right now due to school, and when you get finished you will have a lot more free time; think again! When you graduate, you will replace the time you spent on homework and being in class with something else. You will continue to learn new things, to do homework, and encounter test, but the difference is now you will be doing it either for yourself ( your passion) and/or your current job. If you have a vested interest in something whether its for your own personal gain or the gain of someone else, you will spend time on it! Probably even more time than you did your school work because it may feel more important to you!
 

9. There Are Thousands of People In This Position

Just look around the classroom! Each year, more and more people are either going back to school to get their degree or doing another semester or year for what ever reason to graduate. When we tend to worry or stress, we think, "I am the only one going through this and no one will understand!" ( my go to is, "Why is this only happening to me!?"). Again, this way of thinking is an alternative fact! There are thousands of people in your same situation! Its becoming the norm to not graduate in 4 years! You are not the only one! So miss me with that, "woe is me" trash! There are people out their in your same situation or worse.  

10. There's No Degree For Success and Happiness

I've heard countless stories about people gaining success with no college degree, and I've met even more people who were happy with no degree! A college degree does not hold your key to happiness and success, you are the only one who holds those keys! Don't let the idea of NOT having a college degree make you depressed or feel worthless. I felt like this for a little while and I had a good friend remind me that life is what YOU make it. You can choose to be depressed about something that doesn't define you as a person or choose to be happy regardless. The same thing goes for success! You choose how hard you want to work for something, or how dedicated you are to an idea, job, or person.

I hope you find these 10 things encouraging on your way to your degree! Congratulations to all the 2017 spring and fall graduates! To all the people still grinding, continue to work hard! It will pay off very soon!