This blog post is based on timing. If you are in high school then you may be preparing to sit your final exams for the year and if you’re in your last year at high school then these exams may feel huge and looming and uncertain. If you are at university then you may be preparing to sit your final exams of the year which may feel huge and looming and uncertain. Go figure.
I thought it might be a chance to inspire you (because this is THAT blog now) as to why pursuing tertiary education is actually a worthy use of your time. We are constantly being told at school how ‘lucky’ we are to have an education and how amazing it is. This is true we are lucky but what school fundamentally lacks (and this is a generalisation plz be aware) is perspective. As a high school student you exist in this nuclear world of social hierarchies, storming emotions, stress and sleep deprivation perspective doesn’t often feature in that mix.
At the bare minimum you will start to feel academic pressure in terms of exams and ‘the future’ in Yr. 11 in many schools it starts earlier. This pressure may feel overwhelming enough without then having to think about university. There are too many questions to answer and not enough time to answer them. What I have found is that much of my fear and anxiety around this ‘future’ and specifically university came from misunderstanding and misinformation.
School despite all it’s efforts left me feeling entirely unprepared for real life with all it’s challenges. There are no learning outcomes in life. I doubt I will ever need to know how to tie a tie ever again in my life and yet that seems to be the lasting education my schooling left me with.
When I applied to do a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Psychology I had absolutely no idea what it meant, but it’s like a thing people say right? and it sounded pretty legit so I thought if I told other people that’s what I was doing they would know what it meant and it would be fine. Did I know that out of four papers a semester I only had one prescribed Psych paper? NO. I had three slots to fill with interesting arts papers of my choice?! Sociology, Education, Media Studies papers galore and all as a ‘Psych major’. Did anyone take the time to explain this to me clearly. Of course not. So IMPORTANT POINT NUMBER ONE. Picking your degree is not the be all and end all. You still have a chance to figure out what you want to settle into when you get here.
Ok so why uni? As every college film would have you believe it is not all parties and booze and young love (although it is many of those things and it’s awesome so don’t worry)
First of all you get to learn, as in about things. About the world and about your place in it. You are given room for a perspective of your own to develop but you are also given lots of information to challenge and help you to redefine that perspective.
‘An education which does not challenge you insults you’
You are treated as an adult, that autonomy that you craved so much at school is rewarded. I have found amazing freedom in just figuring out what I like learning and what I don’t. You never know what you don’t know until you know it. I’m not sitting in every lecture thinking ‘what job will I being doing as a direct result of this class’. I actually just get to sit there and take it in and be excited about actually learning. (and also snapchat the person sitting next to me, and scroll through Instagram and check Facebook and write like 5 lines of notes. holla)
And as for the quintessential #studentlyf’ experience? Yea it’s ok to eat Coco Pops for breakfast in your dressing gown and go to lectures in your pyjamas. You can eat Mi Goreng noodles and drink on a Wednesday and get sick like 5 times a year. Go nuts.
However what is so often under emphasised is that university can actually be a place to start your success. IMPORTANT POINT NUMBER TWO. You don’t have to wait patiently to become an adult and start the slow process of trying to achieve your career goals.University provides you with so many opportunities to explore what you’re good at, and to be involved with projects you’re passionate about. There is no risk here, only experience to gain. You can get started now and that is epic.
AND OH THE PEOPLE. People I never would have met in my ordinary life and people who like what you like and think you’re good at it and want to talk about it all the time. THE PROMISED LAND.
But in saying that don’t live in a bubble. Get out and explore the campus, get a part time job and get some perspective and some skillz outside uni life. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in hostel parties and themed dinners and you forget that you’re paying to learn something so you may as well get the most out of it.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve had plenty of days where I’ve been horizontal for 8+ hours watching entire seasons of The Office at a time (plz see point about #studentlyf) but in the end I know why I’m here and I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn.
I feel like I’ve garnered much of this perspective through my gap year. A chance to ‘let my freak flag fly’ if you will (am I cool yet?) but more than that it was a chance to figure out what kind of person I wanted to be. (and then I did and it was awesome and now everything is perfect) JOAKS. no it did not happen like that at all. It was more like I was thrown in the deep end and then slowly figured out what kind of person I didn’t want to be and what kinds of people I didn’t want to surround myself with. I had time to figure out what I was good at, when I was put in a completely new environment what was the thing that separated me from everyone else? When they didn’t know my school or my family or my social group what about me stood out? Start to think about questions for yourself. It’s pretty cray but also an awesome perspective to go into university with.
It’s a privilege to have this hall pass from the world. A time that all adults want to return to and all kids want to get to. A weird collective ‘yea don’t worry make as many mistakes as you like and learn things the hard way and we’ll be there for you at the end‘ kind of mentality.
I had this unsettling voice in my head that said, ‘you’re not smart enough for university’, ‘you down have enough direction to go to university’ but all of that is just fear and you should never let fear dictate decisions for you.
If Elle Woods can do it. Why can’t you?
PS. As with many posts on this blog this is by no means the end of this discussion. It’s just the beginning yo.