Dear Ernie: Taking a 5th Year

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Dear Ernie,

I just talked to my counselor last week and found out that I will not be able to graduate in May, and need an extra year in order to complete all my classes to graduate. I am very nervous to tell my family, especially my Mom. She has been planning a huge graduation party for me and we even started planning a special trip this summer to celebrate my graduation. I don’t want to let my family down, and I don’t think my grandparents will understand it either. How do I break the news to them?


The 5th-year student

Dear 5th-year student,

Taking a 5th year to complete your college degree is actually very common, and it’s okay! Before you tell your parents, make sure that you are accepting of the fact that you need more time to complete your schooling. Your family will ask you questions as to why you need to stay another year, so be ready to be open and honest with them, honesty is always the best policy! There are many reasons why students struggle to graduate on time. Lots of students struggled with their classes during the pandemic, depending on your major you may have a hefty checklist filled with classes you need to take and can’t complete on time, sometimes summer classes aren’t available for the ones that you still need to take, and sometimes you can’t fit them all in a four-year schedule. Telling your family face to face is the best way to do this, so it feels more personal to them. Your family will probably be more supportive and accepting of this than you are anticipating, and will appreciate the honesty.

Keep on soaring,


(Note: The advice given is from Candor writers, student-to-student, and does not reflect the opinion of the university).