Fifth year advocate

Image by: Colin Tomchick

I feel like I’m in purgatory.

I could go anywhere with my life, and that’s something most fifth-years can understand. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

As a fifth-year student, I’m consistently met with sympathy – people think that I’ve somehow screwed up, or that I’m a lazy student.

It’s only when I follow it with “but I work over 60 hours a week on campus” do their expressions soften. I’m not as dumb or lazy as they thought.

This stigma is incredibly undeserved.

The fifth-year student is making a choice that’s smarter than most others. While fourth-years might be plagued with cliché anxieties and obsessively reading thinkpieces about the “20-something struggle”, the fifth year is usually a bit more relaxed – probably with a drink in hand.

We’ve been trained to compress our education into four years. While that works for some students, there are those of us who are getting more out of our wonder years by taking some extra time.

That’s not to say that the fifth-year student isn’t a nervous wreck. Grad school applications don’t get easier over time – believe me – but there’s something to be said for knowing thyself.

Once upon a time, the Ontario curriculum had what was called grade 13. This was an extra year, tacked onto the end of high school, which allowed students to take a bit more time with their secondary education. They could stop and smell the textbooks, perhaps.

Now that grade 13 is gone, some students choose to take a gap year anyway. I still see the same condescending looks given to them – like they, similar to the fifth-year, couldn’t handle that quick jump to the “logical” next step.

Whether it’s to work at the student paper, or to get a higher GPA for that dream school, the fifth year is not something to sneer at.

It takes a mature person to know what they want to do with their life. More mature yet, are the people who know that it takes time.

Janina is the Editor in Chief of the Journal.

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