Before I knew too much about university and all its attributes, I had no idea what to expect when I was to get here. And let me tell you, now that I’m here, it is definitely not what I thought it was going to be like.
When I was in high school, I had so many hopes for myself. I wanted to go to university, I wanted to get into the Coast Guard, and I wanted to be happy with everything that was to happen in my post-secondary adventures. But some people, who I considered a big help to my decision-making, had a different thought about my plans.
I was told I was probably not going to make it into the Coast Guard. I was told that since I didn’t have the prerequisites like Advanced Functions and Physics, I could not go into Search and Rescue. I was told that I would probably benefit more from college because of my less-than-exceptional grade point average throughout high school.
So I started applying to universities. I was terrified, if I’m being completely honest; what if they were right? Fortunately for me, I was accepted into my first choice of schools I wanted to attend. But that was just the beginning. The honeymoon phase of being accepted into your top choice lasts from when you get your acceptance letter, through first year. It wasn’t long before the anxiety started to kick in. No longer was I behind the rose glasses, but I was behind a magnifying glass. I was starting to grow up, and become that independent student I had always hoped to be. But with that came the realization that EVERYTHING costs something.
I constantly hear criticism of how I am spending money, and always told that “I should be able to pay for everything on my own” because that’s how “they did it back then”. I’m sorry. But to those of you who have told me that I should be able to pay for it all on my own, have you not noticed the incredible increase of tuition prices in the past decade? And it’s not done rising! Tuition hikes are becoming a frequent thing! Like what? Makes no sense to me. First off, as of right now, I would have to take at least 2 full years off of high school to earn enough to get me part way through university. Maybe that will get me tuition. But then what about rent? What about food? And yes, I do go out sometimes, because what student doesn’t?
I get it, I should learn how to prioritize my time and activities better, but I’m still young. I want to do well, but I also don’t want to miss out on the good times between all the work. So I’m sorry, but to those who think I should just focus all my time on studying and work, I believe there should be a healthy balance between work and life. To be honest, I don’t put in enough effort during the semester, and find myself super stressed during exam season, so at some point I will hopefully find more motivation to get myself through my final year next year with less anxiety and worry. But like I said…I’m still young.
Any advice that I have to students entering a post-secondary institution is to not worry too much about anything. Things have a way of working out. One thing I learned is that stressing about what is happening right now is only going to hinder your capabilities and productivity in almost every other aspect of your life. Don’t do what I did. My inner mom voice is saying to pay attention as best as you can in class, and not to spend too much time building your reputation as a bar-star…because people do notice…
Sometimes I wonder how I got here, how I made it, how I managed to pull myself together in the most stressful times I’ve ever experienced. I wonder how I am doing so well in one of the top schools in the country known as one of the U15’s (15 top Canadian research schools). But then I think back to the hint of independence I’ve always had, my high level of curiosity, and how I learned to rely on myself rather than others. Like a class group assignment…you can only rely on yourself to get what you need to get done, done. When I started looking for answers by myself instead of looking to others for assistance, that’s when I started doing well, and I can say that that is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in university. It’s not all about the grades and the classes, it’s not long before I realized that the biggest lessons I’ve learned are about myself and how I cope with day to day activities and complications. Once I realized that, I learned to relax a bit and take things a little slower than before (also from some help from several breathing exercises and calls to my mom back home, because asking for assistance isn’t always a bad thing).
Even though my plans have changed, and now being interested in Real Estate rather than the Coast Guard, my interests are always changing, and even though university isn’t going how I initially thought it was going to pan out, I have no regrets anywhere in the past three years.
University is different for everyone, and all I can say is to make the best of it. You’re only young once, so don’t dwell on the tough times, because there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it gets stressful. Yes, your anxiety levels will probably rise a bit. But just think about what you’re going to get out of it, and take it one step at a time to reach that goal.