It’s almost that time of year again. Pretty soon we’ll be seeing the banner spelling out CSUN cascading down the front of the library, the bleacher seats erected and those pearly white chairs intricately placed on the library lawn for the soon-to-be graduates. It’s been four years since I entered this institution as a freshman. Even though it should technically be my time to graduate according to the four-year plan, I will not be taking a seat with the graduates of my college in the early hours of May 19. Instead, I will be a guest, cheering my friends and celebrating their graduation day. The reason I won’t be walking to the beat of the commencement song isn’t because I fell behind in my classes, or decided to take some time off to find myself. Toward the end of my junior year I realized there was no rush to graduate. It slowly became smarter to stay in school a little longer, than to be one of the many rookies trying to make it in the competitive field of journalism and the job market overall. The United States hadn’t quite entered a recession and the job market wasn’t looking terribly bleak, but circumstances weren’t ideal either. At the time I was a staff reporter for the Daily Sundial and once I began doing my research about job opportunities in my field of study, I found there weren’t as many options as there once were. Newspapers I thought were untouchable were all of a sudden facing the possibility of bankruptcy and newsrooms were utilizing their journalists by having them do it all to make up for not having a person designated for writing and one for the visual element of the story. Seeing the rapid change in the industry made me start to rethink the plan I had in mind when I first started CSUN as a journalism major in fall 2005. I came into this program with the idea of finishing my degree in four years and going straight to the working world and getting a job at a fashion magazine. In my head, it was all figured out. That bubble was burst during my stint as a reporter here. A fellow journalism friend of mine broke the news to me that life is not like ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and not every girl with a fashion dream ends up working for a glossy magazine. I had to start reevaluating the initial plans I had set for myself and figure out what would make the most sense with the direction the industry was taking. Professors, people working in the industry and friends who were about to graduate kept stressing the importance of being able to ‘do it all’ as a journalist. Meaning, having the skills to write, take photos and video, edit and create multimedia projects. All of this sounded daunting because the only journalism courses I had taken had to do with writing. A sense of panic began to set because at that point I was only a year away from graduating. Not only did I think I didn’t have all the skills to stand out from the competition, but I wasn’t ready to face the real world just yet. When I put all the facts on the table, things began to make more sense. I was 20-years-old, approaching my senior year, studying journalism at a credited university and, above all else, it didn’t make any sense to graduate at a time when the unemployment rate was on a steady rise. It was very difficult to decide to completely change the path I was on for almost three years and suddenly make new plans for my future. At the time of my decision, the national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent and hearing the horror stories of journalists being laid off was a driving force for me to be comfortable with the idea of prolonging my time at CSUN. After restructuring my educational plan, I managed to organize the rest of my semesters at CSUN so I could utilize the different journalism courses offered as well as classes from different departments that could benefit me in the long run. What should have been my last semester at CSUN is only the beginning of my senior year. Would it have been nice to say I graduated on time? Sure it would have, but if I did who’s to say there would have been a job opening for me at the magazine of my dreams. With the extra year I have until my graduation day I will be utilizing my time by taking photography classes, learning how to be a multimedia journalist and interning at various publications, starting with this summer at an online fashion publication in San Francisco. I may have diverted from the original path I set for myself back in fall 2005, but maybe that’s a good thing. I can have more time to perfect my skills so that when I do finally graduate and enter the job market I can stand out against the competition.