Taking University Slowly?

During a seminar discussion recently, I had a professor tell me that university is a luxury. His comment baffled me: how had I never considered it that way? Maybe it’s hard to consider something that is so time-consuming and at times incredibly frustrating and difficult as the epitome of comfort. But it got me thinking: why are we as students so consistently eager to escape? Whether it’s our craving for the weekend or our next break or even graduation – what is it that contributes to our overwhelming sense of urgency to distance ourselves from university?

I think a lot of this sense stems from the competitive university atmosphere, where we engage in a constant self-comparison with our peers – a vicious cycle of quantitatively measuring our worth through how fast or how much. This looming fear causes us to at times overwhelm ourselves with any activity we can pile on for the sake of accomplishment (or LinkdIn clout).

Despite this, many students every year are opting to extend their degree past the previous seemingly uncompromising four-year threshold. They take their time finishing their degrees, either through studying part-time, enrolling in fewer classes per semester or taking a greater number of electives. Maybe this is where the luxury really lies; imagine reduced pressure, enjoying every reading, looking forward to every class, being able to commit a realistic amount of time to every class and being thoroughly engaged in the topics you come across. Seems luxurious to me.

So which is it: fight or flight? I don’t really have an answer. Some people work better under pressure. Some people see school as one step towards greater accomplishments and prefer to move to the next steps of their lives as soon as possible. Some people are obviously under significant economic restraints. But if you consider yourself a lifelong student who loves university but is feeling suffocated by the pressure, taking extra time may be the answer for you. There’s no right or wrong answer – just listen to your gut.

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