Going the extra mile…or semester

When I went through my freshman orientation at LMU, I was so excited at the thought of just four more years of school between me and my dream career. Little did I know, I was destined for four and a half. I’m not going to lie, I was devastated when I was given the news by my academic adviser. I didn’t want to spend an extra semester in school, it wasn’t fair. I was caught up in the stigma that if you had to spend an extra semester at college, it was because you didn’t work hard enough. Let me just set the record straight: staying an extra semester in college does not, by any means, make you inferior to those able to graduate “on time”. In my case, and many of the others who have to spend an extra semester college, it’s necessary.

As it turns out, my program is quite hour-intensive. We have 66 credit hours (in addition to our general education requirements) to complete before we graduate. That’s a huge amount when distributed over only 4 years. On top of that, the wildlife courses are offered on a staggered schedule. This means that certain courses are only offered every other year during a particular semester. Therefore, when you’re signing up for your classes, you have to be very careful to make sure that you sign up for every wildlife course offered. Unfortunately, this means that many general education courses may get pushed off a semester, and believe me, those classes begin to pile up.

I certainly don’t say any of this to discourage any of you wishing to pursue a degree in wildlife biology at LMU, because it’s well worth it. I just wanted to talk about my own experiences in the program and the fact that it takes quite a bit of dedication and perseverance. This is definitely a career path that requires passion to be completed.

In my case, I could have potentially avoided the necessity of an extra semester by taking college courses while in high school. I didn’t want to do that in high school simply for the fact that I couldn’t afford it at the time. I’m happy that I decided to wait until college to take any college-level courses, though. It may have come with the price of having to spend an extra semester at university, but I was able to get into the college mindset all at once.

I remember going into panic mode when I came to terms with having to spend an extra semester at LMU. First, I was upset that I wouldn’t be able to graduate with my friends. Then, I began freaking out because I didn’t know how I was going to afford an extra semester out-of-pocket. I couldn’t afford that, even in my wildest dreams! All I wanted to do was spend four years at LMU, walk across the stage in May of 2015, throw my little cap in the air and move into my future. This dream was slowly being pulled out of my grasp just because I needed six more credit hours. You heard that right…SIX hours were keeping that from me. I guess that’s to be expected when you sign up for a major with so many credit hours.  

Once I got over myself (did I ever mention I’m a bit of a drama queen?), and calmed down I began to be logical about this. I started to seek out people who were either in their extra semester, or planned on attending for an extra semester to get some input, and hopefully some relief. I was able to speak to several other wildlife majors who explained that having an extra semester gave them more time to job hunt and plan for their future. Luckily for myself, I was informed that our university has an excellent program in place that extends our financial aid packages for up to a year. This includes all of our state and institutional specific financial aid. To be eligible for this financial aid extension one must maintain a certain GPA. This meant that I wouldn’t be paying out of pocket for an extra semester of required classes.

At this point, I will be entering my senior year at LMU in the fall. Hopefully, with the knowledge that I’ll have an extra semester next fall, senioritis won’t kick in….I hope. I plan to keep on trekking through this college journey, and eventually scaling that mountain called “graduation” and reigning victorious. I love LMU and all of the people here, so I’m lucky to have an opportunity to spend more time here and get to know as many people as possible!  Regardless of my extra semester, I plan to make my four (and a half) years at LMU some of the best years of my life.

As always, please follow my blog. I look forward to telling you about the newest chapter in my ‘wild’life!!