Beating the 4-Year Myth


Cody Hirose

Looking forward to taking senior portraits again.

I did the unthinkable, perhaps close to the impossible. On Tuesday, Jan. 24, I gripped my black ink 0.7 G2 pen and filled out the clearance form for graduation. It is a phenomenon to receive a four-year degree in exactly four years. Dare I even call it a miracle to fulfill the four-year myth.

I, for one, have not fulfilled the four-year myth. I have beaten it by not graduating in four years, but in three and a half years.

As a student who has involuntarily endured six years of elementary school, three years of middle school, and four years of high school, dragging myself into a four-year bachelor’s degree was the result of, “I’ve come this far. What’s four more years?” Although the simplicity of it appears inviting, the unappealing truth of it all is far more strenuous. According to Complete College America, less than one out of eight students in the state of Hawaii graduate in four years.

So, I guess that means approximately seven out of eight students have to drag their tiresome, caffeinated bodies to school for at least five to six years at the very least. I will not be a part of that statistic because joke’s on them. In December 2017, I will be receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Chaminade University of Honolulu with less than four years under my belt. 

What is the secret, some may wonder? Does it involve hardcore study sessions and jam-packed schedules of the maximum credits in each semester? Or maybe it involves surrendering all summer vacations. In all honesty, it didn’t involve any of that. And in more honesty, I have no idea how I did it. Sorry, there’s no secret formula from this girl.

By definition, a full-time student must register for 12 credits. However, to be considered on track, one must register for a minimum of 15 credits per semester to graduate in four years. Aspects such as part-time jobs, sports, clubs, and classes at full capacity can also interfere with the track to graduating on time.

I am utterly blessed and astonished to have been able to participate in a few clubs when my schedule allowed it, and to have two part-time jobs. I cannot stress enough my honest confusion of how it happened.

The main reason I am able to graduate early is Chaminade’s four-year plan. That was my friend who I held very close to. However, instead of following the plan step-by-step, semester by semester, I strayed from it time to time. By keeping track of my “have taken,” “currently taking,” and “need to take” classes, I was able to fill my schedule to its capability. I also made sure that if I took 13 credits one semester, the following semester would need 16 to 19 credits. 

Ashley Onzuka
Filling out my ticket to freedom

If my schedule allowed me to take more classes, then I did it. I only took shifts at work that I know wouldn’t affect my schooling, and I only joined clubs during semesters that were easily manageable.

As my second-to-the last semester slowly comes to an end and my last semester quickly creeps up on me, I am unsure how I should feel. Early graduation means an early step into adulthood. I still feel like a kid. But hey, at least I’ll be a kid with a bachelor’s degree.

Yes, I can brag to my friends from high school that I will be turning the tassel of my college graduation cap far earlier than they, taking a step into adulthood while they chug their high-caffeinated coffees in the school library, fiddling with flashcards and notebooks. And on a Tuesday afternoon, I will send them a text asking to hang out that night, and in response I’ll say, “You can’t hang out tonight? … Midterms? Oh yes, I remember those.”

But deep down, I am both hysterically excited and terrified. Although I have proudly beaten the four-year myth, and while nothing satisfied me more than signing those clearance forms, I can’t help but live in a brief moment of fear that I am evolving into an adult.