Why I Decided to Start My Degree Over

by Kalia Barkai | Feb 23, 2017

At the end of this year, my friends from high school will be graduating university. They will be wearing their robes, surrounded by all the other graduating seniors, sitting in the same big hall I used to take exams in. As they wait for their names to be called and to receive their diplomas, I will be 13,000 kilometers around the world, starting the second year of my new undergraduate degree program.

Not only did I add an extra four years at university, but I now have to go through all the first and second year experiences again.

Leaving my previous university, instead of graduating this year, to come to Minerva and start over was not an easy decision. Not only did I add an extra four years at university, but I now have to go through all the first and second year experiences again. Meanwhile, I’m preparing to watch my friends from back home go on to postgraduate degrees, or enter the working world.

In South Africa, where I’m from, university students are required to start working toward their majors beginning the first year. This meant that in my last year of high school I already had to decide what I wanted to study for the next three years. I decided on science and before I knew it, I was majoring in physics and astrophysics and was not really sure what I would do with my degree. But that was the path I was on and, just like inertia, it was easier to continue than to stop and do something else.

When I started the second year at my previous university, it seemed inevitable that I would stay on that path. The idea of attending Minerva was so far away from my reality, which involved sitting in lectures each morning and attending laboratories and tutorials in the afternoon, before returning back home to carry on studying, or going out with friends.

I had to weigh finishing my degree in the timeline I had planned, with starting over on a path that was more suited to my goals. One of the things that pushed me to choose Minerva was a badgering question I knew I would be asking myself if I decided to stay: what if …? I feared I would have always wondered what direction my life might have taken; the opportunities that would have opened up, the people I would have met, the places I would have lived. I realised I was not willing to miss out on those possibilities.

I finally decided that it was not worth saving time, if that time was not spent pursuing my passions.

Now that I am halfway through my second semester at Minerva, I feel I have made the right decision. By living in a new city, with classmates from around the world, I have grown and am sure I will continue to do so, as I travel the world with my classmates.

At the end of this year, when my friends from home are graduating, I will be proud of them and I will congratulate them on completing their degrees, but I will not be jealous.

At the end of this year, when my friends from home are graduating, I will be proud of them and I will congratulate them on completing their degrees, but I will not be jealous. We all chose different paths, the ones that are — hopefully — getting us closer to where we want to be. I am excited to see where they go next and am just as excited for my own journey. When we reunite, I am sure we will have many stories to tell each other.