A diploma from The University of Texas in a frame.

Why I’m Embarrassed By My Degree

I am embarrassed by my degree. Not my major, nor my university, but the date on it. I’m embarrassed by it, partly, because very few people, previously to this post, knew about the secret of the date printed on it.

Earlier this week, I was picking up my Texas Exes Life Membership packet which reminded me of all of this. One of the pieces of Life Membership includes a beautiful Life Member certificate. “The Alumni Association of The University of Texas at Austin… This hereby certifies Brandon Joseph Kraft, BA Sociology ’10 as a champion of the University and as life member…” 2010.

I started college in 2002. It was a bit rocky. Much of it was self-induced between an ungodly level of unmerited self-confidence and cockiness mixed in with finally dealing with the emotional burden of my father’s death. In truth, I am probably a good example of someone who should have done something for a couple of years before starting school.

I took on a full-time job and overcommitted in various organizations. Finally, after five years, I “graduated”. I walked the stage, I did the dog and pony show. At UT-Austin, you can walk the stage when you’re within a certain number of hours of graduation. I only lacked the must-take Sociological Theory and four semesters of foreign language. Four semesters.

A long story made short, my self-confidence continued as I tried various self-study, technologically-fancy methods trying to knock out 16 credit hours of Spanish, which only netted me 5 hours, until I finally accepted that I need to do it in a traditional way. By this point, I had already left my full-time job of five years for another one, but managed to fit in 11 credit hours of Spanish within two semesters at the local Austin Community College.

After another semester passed for the paperwork to get processed, since another semester is meaningless at this point, The University awarded my degree on August 16, 2010.

The fact that I shy away from the date, trying to make up for it. “I started school in 2002” or “I finished full-time coursework in 2007”. I’m embarrassed by it. I took longer than Tommy Boy.

Looking at the Life Member certificate though reminds me that I can’t be ashamed of not fitting into the typical progression. BA ’10 will be next to my name anytime I’m mentioned by the Exes. And that’s okay. Part of being okay with it is dropping any pretense with anyone that I was academically excellent in college, thus this public statement.

At the end of the day, I graduated from one of the best universities in the world dropped in ranking since then; it was high during the majority of my time truly on campus, regardless of degree, incredibly enjoy my work, and am overjoyed with my family. Now that it is over, it doesn’t matter if I complete a degree in two years or ten years.

Brandon Kraft, BA ’10.



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7 responses to “Why I’m Embarrassed By My Degree

  1. Astrid Tuttle Winegar Avatar

    Does anyone complete a BA in 4 years anymore, or an MA in 2? I took 13 1/2 for both. I’m just glad to be done…congratulations for finishing!

  2. Paul Guyon Avatar

    Brandon, no reason to be embarrassed! The fact you graduated and didn’t give up, especially after 10 years is a credit to your persistence. That being said, for some reason, I cannot get the song “All my Exes Live in Texas” out of my mind. Can you explain the name of the club?

    1. Brandon Kraft Avatar

      When it was founded in the 1880s, it was simply the Alumni Association, but was renamed at some point long ago to the The Ex-Students’ Association of The University of Texas, which is shortened in everyday use to the Texas Exes.

      I’ll ask to see what I can find out.

      1. Brandon Kraft Avatar

        Long delayed, but the name shifted from the Alumni Associated to Ex-Students to be inclusive of former students who didn’t graduate. I don’t have the timeline for the shift (random guess—maybe related to people leaving school to fight in wars?)

  3. Jesse Petersen Avatar

    I feel ya, Brandon. We have similar tracks. I started last millennia in 1997 and got my BA in Professional Writing in 2010, also. 13 years, bro.

    Started at the big USF with a full-ride scholarship in the Honors program. Lost my scholarship and Honors status due to academic issues believing I could study as little as I did in high school. Went to community college a bit & stopped. My future father-in-law pushed me along by matching me to get my AA in 2004.

    I went back to USF in 2007 doing night classes & my employer reimbursing 100% for A’s. I went 3 semesters with straight A’s before my first B. My last 2 semesters were after I started my business and I did 16 credit hours each to graduate with 131 hours.

  4. Jackie Dana Avatar

    You graduated, and that’s the only thing that counts!

    1. Brandon Kraft Avatar

      Thanks! I think our longest advising session was me trying to figure out any possible way around the foreign language requirement 🙂

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