On your way to University, the first things that go through your mind are: yay, I get to be away from my parents, I can eat whatever I want, I have full emancipation and all freedom to live my life, and I'm going to make these four years count. You probably thought that you would join a million and one different societies, get honors in your major and just fly through each year of university in a breeze.
WELL, THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT AND MAN, WAS I WRONG.
You always hear the stories about students living off of water, noodles, and whatever else they can find to snack on, but that isn't necessarily true and it isn't wrong, either. Let's just say that after spending money on the expensive textbooks you will never use, you are pretty much left with scrap money, if any money at all. Now some schools, for example where I went to, included funds that were basically attached to you school ID that you could use for spending on food from the cafeteria or use for printing those long papers that you decided to do the night before. But how long do these funds last really? Like half a year and then you have to keep adding to it as if the school fee isn't expensive enough.
When I was in my fist year at my University, I thought it was going to be grand until life came tumbling down on me like a pile of bricks. I thought I was coming in knowing what I wanted to do with my life and was ready and well-prepared to tackle all the obstacles, right?... wrong. Five subjects felt like torment compared to the eight I had to take in high school and the classes, although small, were so overwhelming; even classes that I touched on a bit in high school felt like a headache. Everything they told you university would be like was nothing as explained.
Towards my second year, you would have thought that I would have grasped some basic things about university and slowed down by taking less classes, but determination was key. I was going to reclaim and have some form of redemption whether it meant no partying or extra curricula-rs. Now really, can you spend four years of university without even once, having out with your friends or doing something fun? I know that is what my parents would have wanted for sure. Again, knocked down by one subject. There and then, I had already changed my major twice. Remember, I said that I had my whole four years figured out. Well, that was a compete and utter lie I told myself.
By my third year, after spending the summer actually visiting businesses, speaking with some managers and getting connected, I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life and was able to declare my major. You would think that now everything would have been made easy, but everything was still a challenge and I felt like I was doing everything for my parents and nothing for myself. So many questions were asked as to if this is what I really wanted to do with my life. Am I pleasing my parents more that myself? Do I really want to be in University? I felt like my full potential was just being hampered.
Finally, we come to my fourth year, where I decided to let go and be me. I decided to add a minor of something that I felt I actually wanted to study to my degree in an effort to enjoy my final year of university. I felt like I could finally enjoy something I love and finish my fourth year strong. Although many struggles have presented itself now that I am in my final year, I now have found something to enjoy, something that even fits into the major that I chose and it only goes to say that when you mix a positive with a negative, there is some type of positive balance.
So any advice that I would give to any student starting University would be to:
1. Make sure what you plan to take will be the right match for you.
Know what you want to do, find that positive and negative, and find that balance. Research is key to finding what you want your life to be after you graduate. Don't worry about how high your GPA can because trust me, it will drive you crazy for the years that you will be in school and take it from me, you don't want to be in University longer than you actually want to be.
2. Find a medium between socialization and school work.
I didn't have much opportunity for volunteer work or societies because my life was centered around trying to get that GPA and trying to impress my parents more than what I wanted to do and there's nothing to really show from it. So spend time actively engaging in as many social activities that you can handle with your studies and remember to make time for friends.
3. Save... Save... Save.
Remember to save. The life of a university student is expensive. Either when your parents send you spending money, save a quarter of it for a rainy day ,or get an on-campus or off-campus part time job if you can handle it because I can tell you now that debt is not something to play with and it is the last thing that you want to be in as a university student. I can personally say that I have learned that the hard way.
4. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE.