Dear first year me,
It was only four months ago that I was still putting my hand up to use the washroom, and now I am in a post-secondary institution working to complete an undergrad degree so I can nail down my dream job. Can four months really make that big of a difference for me? Can completing my undergrad in my next four years change my life? The answer is yes – but it’s completely up to me, and me only, to make it happen. There are people in the world who don’t want me to succeed, but I know that there are people in my post-secondary institution who do want me to. It’s up to me to use every possible resource they have to offer. Here’s the advice I would have loved to have in first year…
Discover your crowd – Going away to school isn’t just about the ultimate goal of walking across that stage in your gown only to fist pump a degree rolled up in an 8 ½ x 11-inch piece of paper. Some of the people you’ll meet while at school will become some of your best friends for the rest of your life. Some of these people will stay up with you all night cramming for that exam or ironing out that big presentation. The point is, discover those people who you work best with that will allow you to get the best grades together, and know the ones which you can always go to for a good laugh or to have your back. They will be your lifeline away from home and will make your post-secondary career more enjoyable.
It’s not all work and no play – Needless to say, schooling is tough. It takes a lot of your time and effort only for a grade. But it’s something that is essential in the world we live in. Like many other things in life, it doesn’t have to always be serious. Having a social life in school will not only make the time fly by, it will take a lot of the stress off yourself. Now I’m not saying go to the bar every night, but going out occasionally with friends is acceptable, even against your parent’s skepticism. Don’t hesitate to join that intramural league or that club; they only take 2-3 hours of your time a week. Get out from behind that desk and take a break. Those are the highlights you’ll remember and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
The time is now – In the words of a great professor, Tom Blake, “you’re in the game, the time is now”. If you’re in business, engineering, the arts etc. act like the professional you will be once you’ve graduated. The only people that will criticize you for that are those who are intimidated or jealous of your eagerness and passion. Just because you’ve entered into first year doesn’t mean you have to wait until fourth year to become that professional. The minute you enter that institution should be the minute you begin building your brand. The people around you every day will be your best network. You never know whom you may run into that could be a useful connection down the road.
Don’t blink – You thought high school flew by? Any post-secondary schooling will come and go faster than you could imagine. Of course those busy weeks will seem like forever, but when you reflect upon it, it seems like a mere couple of days filled with amazing people and experiences that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Seize every opportunity you can get, say hi to that unfamiliar face, and enjoy every day because they will be the best couple years of your life.
Carter and Patrick