I didn’t know it at the time, but I met one of my best friends at my freshman orientation. As fate would have it, we ended up on the same floor, living four doors down from one another. We quickly bonded over a lot of things, but our relationship grew stronger through the connection we shared as fellow media studies majors.
We struggled together through the same classes, freaked out over assignment deadlines and looked to one another for support academically.
But that changed when he decided to switch majors.
Although we remained close on a personal level, our academic paths took different twists and turns. As he explored different majors and worked hard to find one that really fit, I advanced further into my major.
Had the opportunity been available to me back in Fall 2011, I would have participated in Fly in 4, a new program instituted by the university to ensure that incoming freshmen finish their chosen degree in eight semesters.
According to Temple’s admissions website, students who sign the Fly in 4 contract, fulfill its requirements but still need more than four years to complete their degree will have their additional time at Temple reimbursed.
These requirements include semesterly meetings with an academic advisor, registering as early as possible for classes that fit with a specific academic plan, remaining in good academic standing and completing at least 30 credits a year, according to the program’s website.
Fly in 4 is perfect for students like me who have the extremely good fortune of coming to college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives and what major they feel they need to pursue to get closer to achieving their dreams.
However, many students enter college and have no idea what they want to do with the rest of their lives – or they start their major, absolutely hate it and come to the realization that their passions are better suited for something else.
Choosing a major is a serious decision that can impact the rest of your life. Some students, like my friend, take advantage of this moment in their lives to academically explore and choose a major that brings out their best qualities, giving them the skills they need to excel.
However, Fly in 4 becomes a bit less direct when a student attempts to change or add a major or minor under the agreement. According to the program’s frequently asked questions, “Those things may be possible, if you plan carefully.” Temple recommends that students work closely with their academic advisors to attempt to fulfill more complicated educational routes.
Despite this supposed encouragement, it doesn’t appear that the university actually supports academic exploration. Fly in 4’s website asserts that in order to “avoid the long route,” students typically “enter college with a major in mind” and “pursue a single program of study.”
Students that know exactly what they want to study should be incentivized through this program.
But where does this leave students like my friend?
Students should not be financially penalized for taking the time now to really think and test out what they plan on spending the rest of their lives doing. Instead of forcing students into finishing college in four years or paying a huge sum if they cannot, the university should replace its monotonous general education course and freshman seminars with more creative ways to help students discover what it is they want to spend their four years doing. It’s much better to take a little time to be confident in this huge decision than to rush through it in order to meet societal and financial expectations.
Now my friend and I are preparing for our senior year, and after changing his major five times, we will graduate in May with the same major we started with. Only now, he feels confident that after taking the time to explore his passions, he has made the right decision. And he did it all without Fly in 4.
You can contact Ndidi Obasi at firstname.lastname@example.org