Back in October, I was frantically researching which graduate programs to apply to. I was convinced that I was going straight into a Master’s program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I narrowed my search down to a couple of schools that were within commuting distance from my home in New Jersey and was feeling confident. That was until I checked how many credits I had.
I flipped out when I realized I was eight credits short of graduation. For the past three-and-a-half years I had been meticulously planning out my courses to make sure I would fulfill all of my requirements. Everything was going according to my very specific plans up until my junior year. Due to issues in my personal life and difficulties with my mental health, I had to withdraw from multiple classes and miss out on studying abroad.
I quickly scrambled to find any solution that would allow me to graduate on time. I took a winter class and was planning to take over twenty credits this semester. About halfway through winter break, I broke down. Why was I putting so much pressure on myself to graduate on time? My anxiety was through the roof. I knew that taking so many credits, working, and participating in extracurriculars would not help me raise my GPA. I only was pushing myself so hard because I wanted to be “normal.” I did not want to be that girl who took longer than four years to graduate. The only reason I desperately wanted to graduate on time was that I was afraid of being judged.
However, in the grand scheme of things, why does one extra semester of college matter? It really doesn’t.
I sat down at my computer and withdrew from the excessive amount of classes I had enrolled in for Spring 2018. I changed my expected graduation date to December from May. There was no point in overwhelming myself just to please other people. Would I even be pleasing other people by graduating on time? Probably not, why would any of my friends care that I’m doing what is best for me?
Despite taking those steps, I was still apprehensive about returning to UMass in the fall. My boyfriend will be studying abroad in Hungary that semester. Every time he brought it up I would get upset. I wasn’t upset because he was going abroad, I was upset because I never got to. Studying in another country for four months was my dream and I turned down my opportunity junior year.
When I confessed to him how jealous I was, he suggested going abroad for my final semester. I was uncertain of the idea at first. I wasn’t sure that I would even be allowed to finish my last semester overseas. It did make sense, though. Most of my friends would already be gone from UMass, it would cost the same amount, and it was still my dream.
I frantically emailed a study abroad advisor and basically told her my entire life story. I told her that I would love to finish my studies in another country, specifically, Scotland. When I planned to go abroad originally, I was all set to study at the University of Glasgow. I fell in love with the country when I visited shortly during summer 2016. I told her that I was open to re-applying there or any other university in Scotland.
My advisor was so kind and quickly set up an appointment with me. A ten-minute appointment turned into a half-hour one as she gushed about all of my opportunities. I am done with all of my requirements to graduate, just not credits, which greatly expands my options. We decided that the best place for me to go would be Edinburgh Napier University!
Goodbye Amherst, hello Edinburgh!
I am currently still applying to study abroad so I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. However, my advisor is very confident that I’ll get to go and so am I. It feels like it’s finally my time to go abroad. I’ll get to finish my undergraduate career in my favorite city in the world. Back in October, I was heartbroken that I wouldn’t be getting my diploma in May. Now I am psyched to go on the adventure of a lifetime. Talk about a blessing in disguise.
I will still be walking across the stage in May and “graduating” with the rest of my peers. I will just be taking one more semester (in Scotland!!!) to finish up my credits. I’ll also get to put off “adulting” for one more semester. I can’t say I’m too mad about that. Stay tuned for more updates as I (hopefully) get accepted, choose my courses, and more!