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Extending Your Undergraduate Degree - Does That Make One A Failure?

Writer: Lovina Nova Sukra a/p Lorganaden

Editor: Nurul Farhana binti Abdullah

Source: Google

Tears of happiness, bouquet of flowers, colourful robes, scrolls flying in the sky and endless photo snapping moments with loved ones, this is the sight you see in this month of convocation season for the fresh graduates at University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). This is day is truly a special day for everyone because it’s an indication that you have successfully excel your studies and also shows that you’ve made it. No more studying, waking up early in the morning, assignments, exams and so on! It’s finally done, unless… you realize you made some huge mistakes throughout your degree days and resulted you in failing. Once you’ve failed there is no turning back and the only thing you can do right now is extend the period time of your studies to get back those credit hours you’ve lost. Instant breakdown for most people to hear this. All your friends are graduating while you’re still trying to pass that Statistics paper that you’ve failed. One whole semester, wasted just like that. All you can think of is how can you let your emotions get the best of you to the point you affected your studies?

“Degree life is the best phase of everyone’s life”, they said. With new people, knowledge, experiences, and most importantly wider exposure to different kind of cultures and lifestyle, it can really change you as a person. People always say you’ll find out who you really are as a person during this time, what you want to do in your life, your aims and goals, and just really got yourself together. This phase in your life resembles a pupa transforming into a beautiful butterfly that has blossomed entirely and has the strength and courage to wander around on it’s own. In other words, you’ll find your true self in this journey and will go through a glow-up in your adulthood life.

But is that always the case? Will everyone go through that sunshine and rainbow journey? This mindset and expectations on degree life has became such a norm that it is so shocking when one goes through the exact opposite. In every class, there’s at least 3 person sitting quietly by themselves and appearing as ‘anti-social’. The type of students that would skip classes relentlessly, not cooperate efficiently in group assignments, shows no interest in the class, lack of productivity, do not contribute in any activities in college or outside their course and just distance themselves from everyone. People tend to disfavor these kind of students, because in their eyes it seems like they are just lazy, stubborn and arrogant. Although, they do have the right to be annoyed because they don’t know why is the person being that way but we should always not judge a book by it’s cover.

These kind of students are also the ones who end up extending their study. Some people think they deserve it because they didn’t do good enough. Most people look down upon them thinking they are not smart, a naughty student, lazy and just overall judge them as a person in a negative way. But do you know at least 30% of university students goes through depression and anxiety which leads them to be slacking a lot in their studies? In Malaysia, people tend to judge everyone so easily without knowing their true intentions, thinking process and their personal life, not everything is as bad as you think.

We as the youth and future leaders have to be aware of our friends and coursemates, even if we don’t really talk to some of them but the least you could do is have some empathy and don’t be too quick to judge someone. Not all but some students extend their studies due to hardships they are going through in their personal life which leads them to having lack of motivation to study, or in fact to do anything at all. If you see your classmate not attending classes regularly, you should contact them, talk to them, ask them what’s the matter. They might be lonely in their own thoughts at home, be their company and form a bond with them. Some people just neglect them and think they are just being a burden. This kind of mindset is very toxic to our society and leads depressed people to isolating themselves from the world. Remember, compassion is the key!

We should always help the ones who seem like they are having a difficult time getting the job done even if it’s just simple tasks, it might not be easy to them. Depressed people tend to have difficulties executing even the most basic task. Even showering seems like a struggle and all they want to do is lay in bed, just sleeping the sorrow away because that’s the only time they feel in genuine peace. So please be easy on them, don’t see it as them just being a nuisance. We should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. So if you are someone who’s extending your studies due to severe privation that leads you to thinking what’s the point of doing your assignments, socializing, getting a degree and overall just feeling like there is no purpose in your life, do not drown yourself with the judgement of people and their negative mindsets. Extending your education does not make you less intelligent or lazy or whatever people say. The times you think you wasted was a revival, it should be teaching you something about life and people and give you strength to keep fighting.

Extension of degrees does not equal to failure. It just means you took a little more time than everyone else and that is okay. Finishing your degree first does not mean you are more successful than everyone else and finishing your degree late does not mean you are way far behind than everyone else. This is your own personal journey and you must remember you will make it if you set your mind to it and never focus on the negative thoughts that surrounds you. The time you finish does not matter and should not define who you are as a person. Everyone goes through obstacles in their life, it’s like a bump on the road. No matter how long it took you, you succeed.

People always get the wrong idea of extending your period time of studying. They tend to think you’ve wasted your time and you’re going to waste more, you didn’t work hard enough, stubborn to not commit into your assignments and projects and so on. But in all honesty, graduating before everyone else does not mean you are going to be successful before them, or richer. Success is a lifetime journey. Everyone path to success is different, believe it or not. Extending your education should not determine when are you going to be successful because you can’t ever predict it. To be successful, you have to fail because if you don’t fail, it means you will never succeed. Failing means you made some errors and you are able to learn from it. If you think just being 100% perfect with no flaws and mistakes is better, you’re wrong, you won’t be the best version of yourself if you don’t learn from slips. Winston S. Churchill once said that “success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts”.

Have courage, be strong, and remember to just keep fighting. Everyone has their own inner battles they face everyday. It is okay to not feel like you’re best but don’t let it stop you from giving your best. What you can do during your extended semester is you can find part time jobs while you’re at it. This way you can feel like you are also earning some income just like your already graduated friends, you won’t feel like you are so left behind. Working casually is also good for you since it is not a big burden on you while you’re taking a few course subjects in your extended study time. You can also join the gym or do some simple cardio exercises and get in shape. Exercises is an excellent way to release stress, tension and also eases depression. Did you know exercising releases a happy hormone in your body that can improve your mood, skin and physical health? Many people take exercising for granted when it is one of the key to being mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically healthy.

During times like this, your loved ones such as your family should be your main priority. They should be aware of your mental condition and your progress in your studies. Many people are afraid to open up about failing their course subjects because they feel embarrassed to do so. Family members and even close friends should feel empathetic and compassionate for them in this time. Most asian parents are very stern about education, so they should be aware of your feelings and thoughts. Have some deep discussions with them, make them understand you! They will understand you are just an imperfect human being with flaws. They will support you and help your self-growth. The most important thing you should remember is don’t take life too seriously. If you’re hurting, remember that time heals wounds and you will be better than ever. Don’t lock yourself up in your room thinking of yourself as a failure, there are endless opportunities and hope for everyone. Pick yourself up, only you can change yourself. Have some fun, go out with friends, workout, study! Busying yourself in a positive way can give out a huge impact to your self-improvement.

The main point is extending your studies should never be a shameful thing. You did it, you failed, you learn, you grow. You might graduate a little later than the rest but that’s not a big deal. You might not have that special graduation moment with all your coursemates, but you will be getting the most rewarding thing that you will never forget in your life, which is self-love. To me, it is the most important thing to ever achieve in life. You will be at your actual peak with self-love. More confidence, happiness, motivation, positivity and enlightenment. Your journey might have more flaws but it bred the most meaningful life story that will impact you for a lifetime.

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Tina Harrington
Tina Harrington
Feb 13, 2023

This article hits too close to home. Currently in my third year of law degree now, and it feels like my future is going to be exactly like this. I spent my first and second year online learning due to the pandemic. I'd say I get on pretty well with my classmates too, what with having people I previously attended pre-law foundation school together with me. However, I was proven wrong when a new semester started and we're back to physical classes in October 2022. My friends have their own circle of friends that I'm not familiar with and I didn't want to insert myself somewhere I don't belong to, so I was always alone. My anxiety and depression got…

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