- by Alyson Shane
Earnest inspired today's post with the project of sharing some thoughts about university life, and writing a 'letter to my college self.' (As a student loan refinancing company, they have some great advice about the financial side of your University experience as well.)
It's weird to think that it's been six years since I started university. So much has changed, and things have worked out in unexpected and amazing ways. I remember being so anxious, so scared, as a student, because I worried about where my life would lead me.
Which is why I decided to pen this letter. It's to myself, at 23, as I was about to start my first year at the University of Winnipeg. Below are some things that I wish I could go back and say to myself:
I'm writing to you to address some of the fears that I know you're having right now. Leaving your "safe" government job to pursue your education has been a difficult and emotional process, and there have been a lot of moments of anxiety and uncertainty leading up to this point.
But you're here now, and here are some things that I wish you could take forward with you. Maybe they'll make those moments of doubt a little less overwhelming:
University is Not Like in the Movies
You know how most movies and TV shows portray university as being this coming-of-age, self-discovery and self-actualization process? It's not really like that at all.
The tight-knit groups of friends are the ones who are in specific programs, or already knew each other from high school. At 22, you'll be older than most of your classmates. Every time you walk into a new classroom, you'll be walking into a room of strangers.
This is going to terrify you.
But eventually you'll get used to choosing to sit wherever you want; you'll start to feel more comfortable asking to join tables of students; you'll speak up in class because you don't worry about "sounding stupid" in front of your friends, which will soothe your anxiety.
There are times that it will be lonely, but soon you'll come to relish your spares in-between classes, writing in one of the library hallways with the floor-to-ceiling windows, watching the snow fall. The times where you were forced to be self-directed and independent will help shape how you feel about yourself in the future.
It won't be what you expected, but that will be okay.
Your Career Will Work Itself Out
There was a quiet dread which hung over my university years.
After a few exams I established that I was, in fact, smart enough to be in university (something which has been expressed to me several times by other people) but a lingering fear held onto me for my remainder of my time as a student:
What was I going to do after I graduated?
For most university students, this isn't a huge problem; most people live with their parents while attending post-secondary, but I wasn't afforded that luxury. I was pretty lucky as a student: I managed to find some decent paying jobs with flexible hours during the school year, and always managed to find some full-time summer work, as well. But after university... that big, looming space full of uncertainty sometimes felt like too much to bear. I struggled to determine what I wanted to do, exactly, and where.
It will work itself out in the end. You'll have a few ups and downs, and learn a few heard lessons along the way... but eventually you will develop the confidence and self-awareness to shape your own career and not depend on employers for your self-worth.
You will wind up running your own company, and you'll fall in love with the hustle and excitement and ever-changing nature or business. It will work itself out.
Enjoy Your Time as a Student
University was the first time I enjoyed being in an academic setting. Growing up I was told repeatedly that I was lazy and unmotivated, and that I should give up on any thoughts of attending university because I wasn't smart enough to do well.
You're going to feel anxious and stressed at first, but eventually you're going to fall into the natural ebb and flow of classes, homework, exams, and studying each term. You'll come to appreciate the excitement of a brand new class with a new professor, the feeling of finishing a term paper, and handing in an exam at the end of the year.
Most importantly, make sure to take time to yourself during the day. Find a quiet spot in the library, or on some remote nook or cranny in Wesley Hall. Spread out your snacks, your water, your homework, and enjoy the feeling of happy solitude that will often wash over you during these moments.
Being a university student is like being in a little world of your own. It's not quite high school, and it's certainly not the professional working world, and though you won't fully grasp it at the time, the experiences and time that you have will help build your confidence and independence in a way that nothing else in your life will have allowed to date.
It's Going to be Worth It
The single most defining thing that came from my time as a university student was that I learned to believe in myself.
I know that you don't believe in yourself right now; you feel like it was a fluke that you got accepted in the first place, and I know that impostor syndrome will plague for years after you earn your diploma.
Completing university didn't magically transform me into the person that I am today, but, looking back, it was a stepping stone along the path to believing in myself.
Alyson (Your Future Self)
Do you have anything you wish you could tell your younger self? Tweet at me or let me know in the comments!
- by adminI have a bone to pick with the University of Winnipeg.
Before I go any further let me preface: I like my university. I love the downtown campus. I appreciate the availability of coffee, the various types of spaces available to study and socialize, and the overall positive vibe I get while lugging my stuff from classroom to classroom. It's great that we have the new science building and the dorms (though I don't use them) and although apparently it's going to cost me an additional sixty dollars a year in tuition, it's cool that they're going to be building a new state-of-the-art wellness complex. I get that.
So why the Hell is it that with all this expansion and renovations happening on campus, all my tuition being funneled into these new projects I can't connect to the goddamn wifi?!
At first I thought it was just me. I being my iPad to campus and that's generally how I (try to) connect to the wifi. Last year it was choppy and dropped frequently at the best of times, but this year it has become unbearable. Unless I'm on campus after 7pm there is no signal. And that's between the UW Students wifi (which I have a password for), and the UW Visitors and the UW Conference, which are apparently unsecured networks but I can't seem to connect to.
What I usually wind up doing (and am currently doing) is connecting to a Personal Hotspot from my iPhone, which is ridiculous considering that tethering takes away from my data plan while there's a wifi signal all around me that is so weak that I can't even connect to it.
Ever single student I have asked about this issue either has zero connectivity on campus, or has a signal that is so weak that they can barely use the Internet while on campus. Let me repeat: Every. Single. Student. And as someone who has a full course load and has engaged with most of the students in all of my classes on this issue, that's a lot of frustrated students.
So why hasn't this been remedied?
I mean, the tuition that we students pay every year is one of the lifelines that keeps the university going. We students are the reason (in theory) that this institution exists in the first place. And yet we can't get a simple service like reliable wifi? It's a joke.
Last week the University of Winnipeg Student's Association had the student body vote to pay an extra 60$ annually to go towards the new Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre, which we happily obliged. How much would it cost annually, per student, to provide a better wifi signal? It baffles me that something like wifi that every student uses every day largely ignored, while we're asked to shell out for a new fitness centre that maybe half of the student body will even use while they attend this institution.
Of course, Lloyd Axworthy can't brag about the reliability of his wifi connection to possible investors. He needs physical things like a new science building and a new fitness centre to draw investment attention to the university. Running a university is a business, after all, and as long as the employees -or in this, case, students- sit by and let their needs be ignored, nothing will change.