With college and university acceptance letters being sent out, I thought that as a recent(ish) college/university grad it would be appropriate to share some advice that I learned along the way.
- Think of your post-secondary education as an investment. Everyone always wants to have the “ultimate college experience”, which is perfectly fine and attainable, just remember why you’re spending large amounts of money. Your education is an investment into your future; you can still have fun, but be sure to maintain balance.
- Be prepared for lifelong learning. It’s true – learning does not stop when you have your diploma in hand. At the same time, realize that your education just lays the groundwork. There were a few times in college/university that I was truly overwhelmed. I wish I would have realized back then that it wasn’t the end of the world. Starting my career helped me build on the knowledge I had gained, strengthen concepts I struggled with, and learn invaluable lessons that I could not have learned in my 5 years of post-secondary. Don’t get discouraged when something doesn’t land—seek clarification and keep pushing through. You may never use a certain concept ever again in your professional life, or you may have opportunities to actually apply it and better understand it.
- There are no stupid questions. If you have a question, be sure to ask it. It may be nerve-wracking to blurt out a question in front of 20 – 200 people, but do it anyways. If you’re really uncomfortable send off an email to your professor or make arrangements to see them after class. You never know — the question you’re too afraid to ask may end up on your next test.
- Find out what works best for you. Some people study better in groups or pairs, and some are better off studying on their own. Some people need to study using cue cards, while others prefer to replay audio from lectures. Try out different methods and figure out what works well for you.
- Take advantage of placements. If your program offers placements, whether voluntary or mandatory, commit to completing one. Choose an area that interests you, research the employer before you jump in, and make the most of your time there. Some placements may lead to employment upon graduation. At the very least, you’ll be able to build upon your skills, learn new things and get a feel for the environment you excel and enjoy working in.
- There may be pit stops when travelling from Point A to Point B. Don’t start your education with the notion that you’re going to attend class, graduate and land your dream job. Keep your mind open. You may be presented with many options you weren’t expecting and therefore are forced to travel down a different path; embrace it. When I initially graduated from college, I decided to further my education at university for a year because I just wasn’t ready—and that’s completely okay. I learned new things, moved out on my own for the first time and made many great friends. These are all experiences that I would never trade. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I sent out resumes to a wide variety of jobs and felt like I was “settling”. I decided to keep pursuing my education. In doing so, I learned exactly what I wanted to do and completed a placement at Plan A/StaffStat. I discovered my strengths and weaknesses and was offered employment doing what I love. The point is this: don’t concern yourself with what everyone else is doing. As cliché as it sounds, do what you love and enjoy the journey.