End of Classes
Now that classes have come to an end, now that I am just looking down the gun barrel at two exams separating me from my degree, I will share with you a list of things I wish I had known before this very moment. If I could go back to the me who started university three years and three months ago, this is what I would tell her:
University is actually not that hard. Don’t be afraid of it. You can actually do it. You can actually do university level math, for instance. You will not flunk out.
Go to class. Every day. Unless you have the flu, in which case, on behalf of all other students, I implore you to stay home. But don’t skip class, because that always sets off a doom spiral of shame.
Take notes. If your prof is talking, you should be paying attention. At the very least, it’s polite, but I can promise you it will make a big, big, big difference to you when it comes times for exams.
Everyone knows when you’re on Facebook in class. Yes, even your professor. Please. Stop.
There’s an elevator that goes from the parking lot at the top of fourth to the computer lab of the library. Really, you do not need to walk up all those stairs past the book store any more. There’s information I wish I had had three years ago.
When you run out of money, ask someone for help. Financial aid/student services is a good place to start.
When you feel like you’re failing at everything, there are counsellors who are awesome and who are available to listen to you melt down. Go see them. Tell them I say ‘hi’.
University is really, really fun. You will love it. You will hug yourself with glee, every day, that you get to do this.
You will wonder if you will make it through. Somehow, going to three hour of classes each day will occasionally feel like more than you can handle. You can handle it.
Your professors are awesome. But if you end up in a class with a professor with whom you just do not mix, it’s okay to drop it. You are an adult. And you will end up, I am quite sure, discovering yourself in class with a professor you adore. So don’t be afraid to mix it up a little bit, or to try something out and then to change your mind.
Take a variety of courses. I was a little single-minded about getting my degree, and while I love all the classes I took, I do wish, now, that I had taken the opportunity to take an art class, or a music class, or biology, or sturgeon studies. It’s good to try a few things out.
It’s always a good idea to sit next to someone who is a good student. If you sit next to someone who texts/talks/skips all the time, your inclination will be to do the same. But if your neighbour is actively taking notes and generally enjoying him/herself in class, your inclination will be to do the same. You are spending time and money to be in that class, you might as well get the most out of it that you can.
Learning should be fun. If it’s not fun, it’s okay to drop your class and find another class that makes your brain feel full of delightful little sparks. I only took classes that made my brain feel full of delighted little sparks, and I wish I had had the insight to do that the first time I took a stab at university, many years ago. My failure to do this may well account for my previous failures at university.
When you are looking down the barrel at your very last exams, you will be sad. That’s okay, too.
What do you wish you had known? What should someone have told you?