Whether we want to admit it or not, Summer 2017 is starting to wind down. There’s a slight chill in the air at night, the leaves are ever-so-slightly beginning to change, pumpkin spice products are starting to pop up at the grocery store…and soon enough, another school year will begin. Even though it’s been a number of years since I was a student, this time of year always reminds me of new beginnings. I don’t think that feeling ever goes away!
I have a lot of fond memories of being a student. That being said, most of my fondest memories are from high school; not university. I absolutely loved high school, but for the most part, I hated university! Crazy, right? Despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy university, I’m happy that I went and proud that I graduated.
Before University Began
When I was in high school, I already felt stressed about going to university. It seemed like a lot of my friends had a general idea of what they wanted their career paths to look like. Back then, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up! Heck, I still don’t know! 😉
Most of the courses I took in high school were sciences, art and music. Even though I enjoyed those subjects, I didn’t see myself pursuing a career in any of those fields. I remember feeling frustrated at the time because there was a lot of pressure to choose a career path. For instance, just because I was “good” at chemistry didn’t mean I wanted to work in a lab or be a doctor. I also loved being in the band, but that didn’t mean I was cut out to be a musician.
As the years went by, I became increasingly more anxious about heading off to university. Not only did I have no clue what I wanted to study, but I also didn’t feel “ready” to move away for school. Maybe it was my late birthday, or inexperience with drinking and partying, but I didn’t share the excitement my friends had.
In the end, I decided to take a “victory lap” before applying to university. That meant, I came back to high school after grade 12 for an extra semester. I really enjoyed that extra semester. Sure, it felt a little bit weird to be at school without my closest friends, but I managed!
Soon enough, it came time again to apply to university. Instead of pursuing art or science, I decided to double major in Communication Studies and Geography. Since all of my friends had gone away to school, I applied to schools like Laurier, Guelph, and Brock, which are further from the city. I didn’t consider applying to closer schools likes York, U of T or Ryerson, because staying home didn’t feel like an option.
My First Attempt At Going to University
After careful consideration, I decided that I wanted to go to Laurier.
The summer leading up to moving day wasn’t easy for me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a lot of anxiety about moving away for school. I was grumpy, anxious and had a lot of trouble sleeping. People would ask if I was excited to start University and I told them I wasn’t!
Nonetheless, that summer came to an end, and it was time to start my university career at Laurier. Well – long story short, within just a few days, I moved back home. After all that, I decided to go to York University so I could commute to class instead.
As you can imagine, my “university experience” was tainted before it even began, but I was still determined to get my degree!
My REAL University Experience – And Why I Didn’t Enjoy It
For starters, commuting is not fun! For 3.5/4 years of my University career, I didn’t have my own car, so I had one heck of a commute. I had a 10 minute walk to the bus, which only ran about once every 40 minutes. I had about a 25 minute bus ride to the bus terminal, where I had to catch a second bus to take me to the campus; another 25 minute ride. That second bus was almost always jam-packed and someone always seemed to “forget” their deodorant!
As you can imagine, I tried to schedule my classes accordingly. Whenever possible, I tried to schedule 3-4 days/week on campus. I also made sure that I scheduled at least two classes per day, to make the trip worthwhile. Alas, most of my classes were chosen based around convenience, rather than how interested I was in the material. As you can imagine, I didn’t quite “enjoy” a lot of the courses I took. Many of them were straight up boring! The long days on campus (plus travel) was also exhausting.
In addition to not loving my courses, I also didn’t make any friends at school. I know, that sounds pathetic, right? I didn’t make an effort to talk to people in my classes, other than for group projects. I never stayed after class to socialize. Once my classes ended, I got the heck out of there! Instead, I hung out with friends from high school and the girls I met at work.
Furthermore, I was very hard on myself about my grades and put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself. I was determined to get straight A’s. Don’t ask why – I’m still not sure why that was so important to me! Even my parents thought I was being ridiculous. Despite not being overly interested in what I was studying, I spent hours reading, studying, stressing, etc. I never skipped a class, and almost never skipped my reading. If I wanted to go out before an exam, I would, but felt so guilty about not studying. Trust me, I know it was crazy. I also know that if I had relaxed a little bit, I probably would have enjoyed the experience more.
But – I Graduated!
Despite the fact that I dreaded my commute, complained endlessly about how boring my classes were and felt stressed all of the time, I graduated! My grades were awesome too, so I graduated Summa Cum Laude (with high distinction).
University taught me a lot about how to manage stress, how to work with people, how to think critically and how to persevere. Ultimately, University teaches you a lot of life skills that help you succeed in the workplace and beyond. I’m very proud of the fact that I graduated, because there were many times that I felt like quitting. I’m just glad the experience is behind me!