College is a time to expand horizons
By: Dee-Anne Schwanke
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 03:15 pm
Itís September 4, and thousands of young adults this week stepped into their very first university class. I remember the excitement of my first class, linear algebra, back in September 1988. I was thrilled with being there and ready to take on the world. Little did I know that six weeks later Iíd be on the payphone with my dad, telling him that despite my best efforts, I needed to quit school because of poor grades. Here are some things for young academics to keep in mind.
For many youth, the pressure to know what you want to be when you ďgrow upĒ begins at an early age. Truth is most 40-year-olds are still kicking that around. If you ask any of the older people in your life what they had wanted to be when they were your age, chances are theyíve taken a different path than anticipated. At 18 years of age you are ill-equipped to know where you best fit in the world, because you havenít experienced it yet. The best thing you can do is explore. If youíre unsure about where you want to go, start to consider things you enjoy and step in that direction. It might be working with numbers, public speaking or biology.
Also keep in mind that this isnít high school. This might be good news for some of you depending upon your experience. In university no one tells you where your class is, where to sit, what to enroll in or when the exam starts. Instead, you need to find out what you have to do, ask lots of questions, and be responsible. The whole process is exhilarating as much as it is overwhelming. Plus, the social rules of junior and senior high school almost disappear in college. Itís a more welcoming place, with fewer cliques and more community, though Jeff Winger probably wonít attend your anthropology class.
Third, debt is not your friend. Your student loan may give you some margin so you can eat out occasionally or buy a new tablet, but keep in mind that itíll come back to haunt you. It may surprise you but there are many students who succeed with little or no student debt Ė and itís not because their parents covered the costs. Working part time and living simply can mean youíre not saddled with crushing student loans. But it means sacrifice and living within your means.
Finally, universities want you to succeed. It looks good for them. Theyíll provide counsellors, peer support and a host of programs for you. Some of this is free and some isnít, but itís there for the taking. For Peteís sake, take advantage of it! Studies have shown that IQ is not a basis for success in life. Grit, curiosity and optimism are. So the more you search out answers to your challenges, the better youíll set yourself up for success.
Dee-Ann Schwanke has a Bachelor of Commerce with Distinction, and is taking her Masters in International Management.