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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

No shame in extra semesters


As a fourth year student at Chico State, I’ve become just about used to the general public’s reaction to my school of choice.

Everyone went through it, at the very least when they were freshmen. People would ask where you were attending school, you would answer Chico State and wait for the knowing eye roll that would follow along with a heavily inflected, “Oh, Chico.”

I had gotten used to that. What I have had to adjust to, going into my fourth year, are reactions to this not being my actual senior year.

The conversation goes much the same way.

“Wow, senior year. Are you excited?”

“I’m actually going to need an extra semester, so senior-ish.”

“Oh, okay.”

The inflection on “Oh, okay” is much the same as “Oh, Chico.” One part sympathy, one part misunderstanding, two parts wondering what prior mistakes I’ve made to be in this position.

Did I lose a year trying to make up my tuition by dealing pot? Perhaps the party school was too much for me to take. It is Chico after all.

I have not failed a class. I have not taken light course loads to have more time to party. A large major and minor have simply made it necessary.

And I’m not the only one. According to the Department of Education, fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college each year graduate in four years.

While needing more time to graduate may be more common nowadays, it’s still not the norm when people think of the college experience.

The stereotypical college experience is a whirlwind four years of class and fun. It’s still fun, but four years is more of a best case scenario now, not the most common outcome.

With expanded general education requirements and the increased cost of a college education, it’s just not as reasonable.

Stereotypes are hard to break. Just look how hard Steve Carrell is trying not to be Michael Scott nowadays.

I’m not trying to condemn those that are able to finish in four years. Just stop giving those of us that can’t judgmental looks.

Matt Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or @matthewcharlesz on Twitter.

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