I am from Austria and currently pursuing my master's degree in mechanical engineering. I will finish in about a year, then two years overdue (for people who pay fortunes for education this sounds reckless, in countries where education is less expensive it is a little more common however to take longer, I believe).
Reasons for the delay are overestimation of myself, underestimation of the complexity of my studies and general lack of worldly knowledge.
I started working four years ago, during my studies, on a flexible basis of around eight hours a week to full time during holidays.
Additionally I get paid for playing soccer, so I regard this as part hobby part job. This occupies me around 15 hours a week. And has done so for ten years now.
At some point I simply did not have enough time to study, failed exams and fell behind schedule.
Work went well during this time, I was and still am regarded as smart and dilligent at my company. Working freed me in some way from the shame of failing at university, because at work I was unemcumbered and therefore able to show what I am actually capable of.
Nevertheless I was determined to work hard to get my studies back on track. I took classes in time management, learned concentration techniques, structured all parts of my life very neatly. Furthermore I tried to get into a mindset of endless learing, as in "I am not perfect, far from it, and want to become a better person in all regards everyday."
This is an ongoing process obviously and I intend to keep it that way for the rest of my life.
I am due for a talk about my future at my company. I myself initiated it and the proposal was met with joy from the HR department. There is an informal understanding that I will stay at the company after my degree, and this meeting is to discuss the position that will be left open for me. Present at the meeting will be the CEO, head of HR department and probably someone else also from HR.
The company does not know about my situation as detailed as I described it above. They know that university is taking me longer than minimum alloted time, but the CEO himself did take a little longer with his studies, as he once told me.
They do not know that I struggled a lot, exhibited certain not so favorable traits (bad concentration, overestimation of my abilities, lack of hindsight, lack of time management, snootiness, ...) repeatedly to the point of almost failing university.
So, if the question of why it took me longer comes up:
Do I explain my situation in detail or do I just brush it off as a setback phase in my life?
I do not want to shed a light on said bad traits, that I am already slowly but surely obliterating.
There are two cases that bother me:
Not going into details (which, from a company standpoint will probably be fine) and therefore not connecting bad traits with my person.
Going into details, as I am proud of what I have achieved and that I got myself back on track. Exhibits willingness to improve myself.