You learn a heck of a lot in the first two and a half years of your undergraduate degree. I’ll share with you two harsh lessons I picked up:
1. Look towards the future when making decisions; and,
2. Enjoy the present.
How are those not mutually exclusive? (In other words, how does one do both?)
I’ll tell you how.
Looking towards your future when you have to make decisions means being happy where you are and hopeful of where you will be.
The reason I make looking towards the future my #1 priority is because if the condition I’m hopeful for will make me happier than the condition I’m living in the present, I’ll make a decision that will steer me toward the goal I’m hoping to accomplish from that point on – however still appreciating where I am now.
On the other hand, if where I am now makes me happy or is already leading me to the future I’ve always envisioned, then I’ll make a decision to continue on the path I’m on.
I can’t help but think back to when I was in grade 12 in the same position some students are in this time of year: should I go to University? What for? When? Etc…
You’re probably trying to make decisions on very little information you have about yourself and what’s out there, so how do you make decisions at this point?
If you’re hoping to narrow down your search as the application deadlines approach, here’s a couple of questions I asked myself before deciding to accept my offer to University. Disclaimer: I may be brutally honest in this post because giving an institution $30,000 of your money is not far from a big deal.
1. What am I hoping to gain out of University?
Are you looking for a diploma in order to take you into a Masters? A job? A career? What are you coming to University for?
Maybe you want to expand your mind and study theories, concepts, ideas… Or maybe you want to be a doctor. Some people come to University hoping to build connections.
Can you find what you’re looking for outside a University degree or do you feel it would be beneficial to pursue one?
2. How did I get introduced to the idea of University?
This one is important to be honest. In what context were you introduced to University?
Was it a, “Go get yourself a university degree so you can get a job” thing that your guidance counsellor told you? Maybe reach out to them for more information about that idea.
Was it your parents who wanted to make sure you would be able to sustain yourself years down the road? Ask them in what ways you may be able to use a University degree to your advantage.
Or, did you find out about it because you found out you were interested in history and want to explore the idea of whether or not you are passionate about policy-making? Keep up that curiosity, it’ll take you far.
3.Do I know exactly what University is and what is expected of me?
Do I know what courses are going to be like? What my professors expect of me? How a social life might look?
It’s important to know what you will be giving up, or perhaps gaining depending on your goals, before getting in to something.
4. What are my priorities at this point in my life?
Am I ready to be a full-time student? Do I want to support my family for a couple of years before I pursue a career?
Maybe I want to go head-on and build my own brand?
5. Do I want to live close to home or move away for school?
Which one can I afford more? What difference will it make if I stay home or move?
Weigh those pros and cons.
6. Where do I want to be in 5 years? Will it require a University degree? Why?
It’s why I said in the beginning: make decisions now based on where you want to be in the future. Do you think earning a university degree will legitimize you as a future business man, for example? Yes? Then look into University.
If not, start your own business now. If you’re ready and have incredible ideas and are willing to take online courses or attend workshops around your city that will educate you on building your own business… go for it.
Do you want to be an Ontario-Certified Teacher in order to teach in school boards in the province? Yes? Look into a University degree.
Are you interested in serving underprivileged kids in third-world-countries as a career? It may help to have a University degree in the long-run, but you can always take a gap year and look into programs that will take you volunteering abroad.
You never know: you may end up landing a job at 18 years old working with organizations that help kids in different parts of the world, without a University degree. But, then again, if where you want to be in the future in terms of stability and other job opportunities requires you to have a University degree, you might want to do that after you get back from your travels.
I don’t think I’d be who I am today if I didn’t decide to pursue University to be honest. I knew going into University that I wanted to be a teacher and that I needed a certificate for what I’m planning to do after I graduate. But, I also knew that since my goals made University my only option, I took it by the horns and got involved as much as I could and built myself up in many ways I never imagined I could.
I’m investing in more than just a certificate in University – I’m using these four (costly) years of my life to be exposed to everything that has potential to grow me and develop me into the future teacher, wife, mother, and citizen, that I want to be.
I hope those questions I listed helped you realize your purpose for pursuing University and how you might decide the path to take based on your reflections.
I’m rooting for you, whatever path you take, because you’re taking the initiative to figure yourself out.
Happy soul-searching and reach out if you have any questions for me!
Until next week,
Let’s spark positivity (with a health dose of reality) via: