Should I take an extra (extra) year?
May 16, 2014 11:27 PM Subscribe
Please help me navigate the final stretch of undergrad. Mountain of details (for a relatively small decision) inside.
Background: This September I will be entering my fifth year of a mechanical engineering degree program in Canada. Most of my cohort has either just graduated (May 2014) or will be graduating in May 2015 (co-op program).
The complicating factor in my situation is that I want to take extra coursework for a minor in linguistics. (Long story short: took an intro course to satisfy arts requirements, went "holy crap this is what I have been thinking about and looking for my whole life", have subsequently taken several more courses and have been super engaged and done very well.)
Option 0 (no longer feasible): Take an extra four month term (Sept-Dec) to finish up requirements. Spend the intervening summer on co-op, save some money to hopefully cover most of my costs for the extra term. Graduation in January 2015. Unfortunately, this option has proved to be impossible due to course conflicts (unsurprisingly, the ME and LING departments do not go out of their way to accommodate each other's courses.)
Option 1 (take another full year): Take an extra two terms (Sept-May) and spread everything out. I have everything plotted out for the next academic year, but there is still uncertainty regarding conflicts in the year -- the idea is that it should be easier to make fit 3-4 courses per term compared to 5-6. Graduation in May 2016.
Option 2 (drop the minor): Just plow through all of my ME requirements and call it a day (with one extra course that I need to make up from last year). Graduation in May 2015.
Taking Option 2 would be the path of least resistance -- I already know that the course scheduling all works out, I grit my teeth and power through a heavy first term, and, barring any major catastrophes, I walk across the stage with all my classmates. If I take Option 1, there are some things to consider:
Money: I am currently ~16k in debt, having taken out government student loans for the first couple years and then managing to get by with extremely frugal living, parents willing to let me live rent-free, and money from co-op. By this September I should have saved enough to live on for the next eight months. At that point, unless I seriously luck out with next summer's co-op (or hold my nose and take some of that tar sands money) I will have to take out at least a few thousand more in loans to get me through to graduation.
Learning/Personal Development: Taking that intro linguistics class three years into my degree was the first time I genuinely felt excited by something I was learning. I've lost count of the times where I'll excitedly relay some fact that I learned in, like, phonology class to my friends who are willing to humour me. I understand that, assuming that I go into something at least tangentially ME-related post-graduation (whenever that may be), I will have very little chance of actually using any of the knowledge I have gained, but that doesn't really matter to me. All of that said, I'm not the sort of person who is self-motivated/disciplined enough without actual meatspace instructors/peers to help me keep on top of things, which sort of rules out things like MIT OCW (though I suppose I could give it another try).
The extra time: I don't know. A lot of people (particularly folks older than me) have been all, "You're going to spend the next 40 years of your life working, what's the rush?" and such, which, yeah, I hear that, but I hope they can appreciate that, from where I'm standing, it's just a bit of a bummer to watch all your friends move onto the next thing in their lives while you're still stuck doin' the same old thing. Which is something I would have had to deal with in Option 0 anyway, but for some reason one extra term seems a lot more bearable than One! Whole! Year!. Aughh.
Uncertainty: Okay, I am pretty bad at living with risk and uncertainty (as this whole AskMe, as well as the spreadsheet I have created with multiple possible paths and permutations of courses will attest to). There is a non-zero chance that this exact same thing (course conflicts) will happen next year, even with the reduced number of courses per term. Which would be pretty disappointing.
So, um, I guess my question is: what do you think of my options? Are there other factors to think about that I've missed? Tips on how to get administrators to bend the "zero course conflict" rule? (hah.) Thanks for reading.