THE BIG PICTURE

I want to encourage you to keep an eye on the long-term. What are you going to university for? What do you want to achieve with your degree? The answers to those two questions are very likely to change while you are in university but if you keep on asking them once or twice a year you will be able to “course correct”. As a simple example, I once thought I wanted to understand alcohol addiction through experimentation with rats. After a year of working with about 200 animals I had been bitten enough times and inhaled enough rat hair to develop a severe allergic reaction to the pink-eyed monsters. So much for that goal!

I also see many students who are at school for reasons they are completely uncertain of. One of the options for any student is to not be a student for awhile. Sometimes we need time away in order to see the forest for the trees. In my case, I dropped out of university in October of my very first year because I wasn’t ready for school. I spent the rest of that year doing other things (including a lot of reading) and by the following September I was really ready to go.

Make connections, both in terms of the people you know and interact with as well as the topics you are studying. For many of us the friends we make in university may be among the ones we keep for the rest of our lives. And unfortunately, many university courses fail to represent real-life dilemmas. If you can find the important connections between (for example) your psychology course and your political science, or your marine biology and your anthropology, or your electrical engineering and your economics, that is great! Those connections will help you cement the content and possibly open up whole new fields of study. Be brave in terms of your interests. Follow your curiosity. Question your thinking. That is the way that you will benefit most from your post-secondary education.