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feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

Hey guys! this has been playing on my mind for a bit so I wanted to share and see what other people think - especially others who are completing or have completed a uni degree (bonus points if it's in psychology haha!)


I started studying my bachelors degree in psychology in 2019. For the first 2 years I studied 3 subjects instead of 4 (75% load, but still considered fulltime at my uni). I decided to do this because I was working a part time job as a tutor (~15 hours a week) and I still wanted to have time to relax, volunteer, see friends and family (especially my dad who has health issues so I help him out with shopping and cleaning etc on a semi-regular basis) while still getting good grades. I didn't feel too bad about this because it meant I would only be extending my bachelors degree by a year (4 yrs instead of 3), so I was pretty much just like "ah, what's one more year."


however, this year (technically my 3rd year at uni) I decided to drop to part time (2 subjects) I do have logical reasons for this - i've gotten an additional part time job as an ABA therapist, so now my two jobs + volunteering commitments add up to 25-30 hrs per week. 3rd yr subjects are harder and I have to get a distinction (75) average in them in order to get into the honours program. i also live out of home so I have to pay for all of my own expenses (although I do get a little bit of help from my parents as I am not eligible for centrelink). To me it made sense to lighten my uni load with this stuff in mind, especially as with this new job I'm getting some paid work experience relevant to the field (i do ABA therapy for 6-10 hrs a week on average). 


despite having reasons, I still can't help but feel bad that it's now (at the current rate) going to take me 5 years total to complete a 3 year degree. it seems like everybody else can do 4 subjects + part time work + get good grades + have an amazing social life and be completely fine (or maybe that's just how I'm perceiving it). I'm kinda worried that future employers might look at how long it took for me to graduate as a bad thing, and that the only reason I should be studying part time is if I'm working full time. i don't want to have a shitty looking Linkedin profile haha


I also want to take off some time to work fulltime and save inbetween my bachelors, honours and masters degrees (probably 1 yr off between bachelors & honours and 2-3 between honours and masters) so I feel like by the time I've got my masters I'll be 30 (i'm 20 now) lol Smiley Frustrated


can anyone else relate? have any of you decided to take a bit longer to finish your degree(s)? is it bad that I've decided to extend my bachelors degree by 2 years? i know it really shouldn't be that big of a deal but I can't help but feel embarrassed about it sometimes, and that I'm not doing enough/that i'm not good enough.


sorry for the long post and thanks for listening Heart






Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

Hey @clarii3105,


I can relate to what your experiencing in so many ways. I started studying psychology degree in 2018 at 22/23. During this time, I've bounced between full-time and part-time study to accommodate for my diagnosis (diagnosed Bipolar I). At this rate, I will end up graduating in 2023 at 28. 


I think it is important to note that your circumstances are a lot different to those that you compare yourself to. In saying this, extending your bachelors by two years is not a bad thing if you're performing and getting valuable work experience as opposed to your peers


Future employers require qualifications and I have yet to see one ask for a requirement like, "Must have completed Bachelors, Honours and Masters in 6 years" haha. I usually put "Expected Graduation Date" or "Graduation Year" just to avoid questions pertaining to study length of your bachelors


I think that if taking time off between degrees means that you get relevant work experience to make you a stronger candidate for your Masters application then it is not necessarily a bad thing at all


I don't feel you should be embarrased at all. By deductive reasoning, I can conclude that you should not be embarrased at all, as you are doing the best you can with what you have and what is going on for you (hunginc, 2021). 


(Hopefully, you and others can see what I did there)

Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

Hey @clarii3105, thanks for sharing! I am sorry that this experience has left you feeling like you are not good enough and also embarassed. It sounds like you are juggling many responsibilities (and have been for a while now) which can be quite stressful.

Honestly, this is one of the most relatable topics for me! I am currently completing my Masters part time and I also completed my last degree (Honours) part time too. I did my undergraduate degree somewhat part time, though my university has a summer semester so it kind of evened out.

I am the biggest proponent of looking after yourself and trying to find a really healthy balance between all your commitments. Similar to you, I have lived out of home the entire time so I have had to volunteer and work to pay my bills and rent. Other than that, I still want to have time to go to the gym, soak in the content and see my family and friends. It is so hard to shake the feeling of not doing 'enough' but I have come to realise that 'enough' looks different to everyone. You don't need to fit in with anyone else's idea of what that looks like. Often we forget just how much we are dealing with, especially when we compare ourselves to others. It really comes down to accepting that what you are doing is what you want to do/what you can manage and therefore it is enough. Easier said than done, I know right!

As for your question about employers noticing - I can't speak for all employers, however I think it is a situation that can easily be explained if asked. As you mentioned, you are working, volunteering and studying which is probably close/if not equivalent to a full time load anyhow. I have emphasised on my applications that I have juggled work, study and volunteering. You are also gaining relevant and valuable experience for your career and Masters application in the future, which is really amazing! Heart You are doing a really great job.

Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

@clarii3105 I can definitely relate. I'm studying psychology too, and it's taking longer to complete my degree however it's under different circumstances (severe burn out + mental health things). The first two years were fine, however I am now on my fourth year of doing third year because I keep having to withdraw from my subjects for my health (I've literally completed one subject a year lol). I feel so awful, I don't know if I'll ever make it to honours or beyond and I feel like I've wasted years of my life sometimes....
...But I know I'm not. I'm doing so much volunteering, and I'm trying to focus more on my hobbies. It's important to remember that there's so much more to you than what you can achieve at uni. 

No employer in the world would hinder you for working instead of focusing on the degree. Experience is so important and it's something unis fail in a lot, I know a lot of really smart people who haven't been able to get into Masters etc only because they lack the experience. Four years ago something that stuck with me is a counsellor telling me that taking a break will be so much better in the long-term because I will come back healthier and with more knowledge. Like @hunginc said, I've never seen a job application that said 'must have completed Bachelors in 4 years'. And even if they did, it would be against workplace rights to discriminate against you for taking care of your health.

I can also guarantee while it may appear everyone else is getting through uni okay, that's really not the case. They say 'Ps get degrees' for a reason, haha. I used to think the same way but last year was (probably ironically) the first time in my degree I've made uni friends, and I was surprised to see every single one of them was struggling in one aspect of life or another. Uni is not an easy ride for anyone. 

BESIDES, if anyone were to ever ask you can always use 2020 as an excuse! We're in a pandemic, everyone's transcripts are gonna look a little different!

Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

Hey @clarii3105 I can definitely relate to this as well. I studied biomed and psych in my undergrad (full time) and found that it pretty much consumed me- I didn’t really have time to do anything else apart from squeezing one day of work in a week. I think employers will be much more interested in the life experience that you’ve had rather than how long it took to complete the degree. It sounds like you have good grades and have lots of valuable experience that would be very attractive to an employer. Just be proud of yourself that you’re managing to juggle everything and support yourself at the same time! 

Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

Thankyou so much @hunginc @Taylor-RO @Hozzles and @Bingo1234 for all your kind words. You’ve really helped me put things into perspective and realise I should be proud of what I am doing rather than focusing on what more I could be doing (especially when it wouldn’t be in my best interest). I think we really can be so hard on ourselves sometimes - I don’t think there’s anything wrong or embarrassing about the fact you guys did/are doing your degrees slowly, but for some reason when I’m the one doing it I think it’s wrong!! If I’m ever feeling down about it I’ll be sure to revisit this thread and read what you’ve said to remind myself I am enough. Thanks everyone Heart 

Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

Hey @clarii3105 I know I'm late to the party but I made a post about this last year too! I'm on my 7th year of a 6 year degree with one to go! And then I want to do masters, so basically I've been in uni for longer than high school Smiley Tongue I did what you did and took on a semi-full time load to keep my grades up, be able to work and to keep my mental health good. I will say that seeing a friend of mine race through her undergrad, race through masters and just save herself from burnout, and then fling herself straight into a low-quality job with an awful boss, then into COVID with absolutely no hobbies and with no idea what to do with herself... made me reconsider the cost-benefit of going a bit slower with uni Smiley LOL As they say, embrace those 4 years of uni because those 6 years will be the best 8 years of your life!

Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

thanks for the reply @StormySeas17 ! I agree it's definitely better to take things slow & still be able to appreciate the other things life like hobbies etc rather than racing through and realising you have no idea who you are or what you like. I like that saying too - goes to show that life doesn't always go by the 'guidelines' and that's okay!

Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

Hey there! @clarii3105  What you are going through occurs so often you wouldn't even believe! Most people that got to uni change their degrees or take some time off uni to relax which then extends their time at uni. I attend uni and i think everyone i know has taken time off or has failed units and had to extend or have decided to do uni part time - making their degree longer! I guess thats why uni is considered better than high school, you have more freedom to pick and choose how you do your life. Don't feel bad about extending your degree as its the best option for you and your health and in the future. I'm sure that you will look back an be thankful that you chose to extend your time at uni. I know at first my friends were all worried about the lengthy changes but in the end time flew and now they are happy thats how everything panned out! Smiley Very Happy

Re: feeling bad about extending my uni degree...

Hey there @clarii3105 and everyone who has joined in the discussion. I just wanted to jump on here and say that it's really nice to see you all  chatting about this. I feel like  this is something that comes up a lot and it's something I'm personally really passionate about. I am a huge advocate for allowing studying to take as long as it need to. There is absolutely no failure or waste of time in extending your degree to take care of yourself. Uni will always be there -- putting yourself first is a wonderful act of self-care. Mental/physical health should always come first!!