College is just one colossal ticking clock. Students have a finite amount of time (four years) to cram all of their credits in before the buzzer. A lot of them do, but there is also a large contingent (myself included) who do not. Reasons can vary: a major that requires a little more to finish, maybe you weren’t ready for the rigors of college life as a freshman and failed a class, or even sometimes it was just laziness in getting your shit done. Whatever the reason may be, you’ve watched the clock strike zero and now you’re staring down the barrel of that fabled fifth year.
The victory lap, as the kids call it, is the greatest spectacle in sports. You’re granted one final go-around to savor all aspects of college and neglect responsibility for just a little bit longer. Much like an Olympian, over the last four years you have trained hard, garnering the strength and wisdom necessary to compete at the highest level in the process. For the first time in your post-high school life, you actually feel prepared for something.
WOOOOO VICTORY LAP!!! This is going to be so much fun, right?! Yes! Who wouldn’t want another year of partying?
It appears that way on the surface. Dig deeper, however, and you’re met with a stigma that you did not previously know existed. You see, your friends that graduated in April now don’t have time for your shenanigans. They’re already off “being successful” (if you call an entry level job being somebody’s bitch successful). Now, whenever anyone asks what you’re up to and you tell them you’re still finishing up school, you’re met with a glare that you didn’t get before. For some, not finishing school in the standard time limit is considered a failure. By the grimace on some of these peoples’ faces, you’d think you were Tommy Boy and going on year seven, not five.
Fear not, my friends — there is a solution. Understandably, some of you are in too deep and are going to have to take a full fifth year. In that case, fuck the haters, and just go have some fun. The rest of you, however — say you’re a junior now who is only a few credits off track — might I suggest something? You don’t want to have to deal with that stigma of failing to finish “on time,” but you also aren’t thrilled about leaving this paradise, right? Why not get the best of both worlds? Take some summer classes to catch up, but also leave just enough to set yourself up for a half victory lap.
The half victory lap is the real MVP. Call it the gold medal race: one final semester to party your face off while taking 12 credits of some bullshit electives. That previously mentioned grimace will soften substantially when you tell people that you’re only going one semester over as opposed to a full year. Plus, since you’ll be graduating in December, you can give that same grimace to everyone that has to take the full lap. Look down on them like they are inferior, just as others have done to you. Elitism is dope. You’ll be able to sneak your way into the same workforce that the rest of these clowns have been toiling in for the last eight months with a freshness that they will envy.
If you’re on track to graduate in four, good for you, nerd. Make sure to finish strong. But if you’re a late bloomer like me, do yourself a favor and take that final semester. Absorb all your final college moments knowing you’re only kinda being judged. One more welcome week, six more tailgates, and hundreds more shotguns/beer bongs await you. Take the half victory lap. You won’t regret it..