We never know what we're getting into until we experience it. I didn't know what my university experience would be until I went through it, and if you asked me when I started that I would be here I'm not sure I would have believed you. As I round out my fifth year at university and second-last in undergrad I thought I'd share what I learned (the good, the bad, and the (not so) ugly). I have learned so much from what others share with me about their experiences and hope my reflection helps you reflect on what you've learned or where you'll go next.
- I actually did a really good job at managing my time. I knew going into this semester that I’d have to balance school, 2 part-time jobs, a demanding extracurricular, and still be able to make time for myself and my social life. Of course this isn’t always easy and some weeks absolutely proved to be more challenging than others, I made it work. I stuck to a strict calendar and set appropriate boundaries when I needed to, in order to make sure I met all my deadlines and performed to the best of my abilities. I think I did a good job of being in control of my schedule, instead of my schedule being in control of me, which allowed me to be a lot more productive in my day-to-day.
- I took courses that were actually interesting to me, which sounds like a given, but anyone in undergrad knows that sometimes you don’t get to be in control of what courses you take until your upper years. I was able to choose my courses and learn things that I was actually interested in, which allowed me to be a lot more productive when getting work done, simply because I actually wanted to do it. That made a huge difference for me, which I’m really thankful for.
- I was able to make some great memories with my roommates and friends. Because I was able to manage my schedule so effectively, I was able to make time to go out with my friends and enjoy different things around me. This year I’ve had the privilege of exploring my university city and finding all of my favourite local places, which has been so much fun!
- I was lucky in the sense that with the way my school schedule worked out, I only had classes two days a week. So, this meant that I really only needed to be on campus a couple days a week, which for some people, might sound amazing, and it did to me at first, too. But, as I approach the beginning of my last semester of undergrad, I realize now that I didn’t spend enough time on campus. Next semester, I plan to make more of a conscious effort to spend time on campus and really take in and enjoy my surroundings while I still have the chance.
- I’m approaching graduation in spring 2023. Luckily for me (I guess) I’m pursuing a post-graduate certificate starting in the fall, so I don’t have the same post-grad stress that most do while job searching. But, I still experience a lot of stress about the future and about what’s next. I need to remind myself that everything will work out how it’s supposed to and that worrying about the future won’t change the outcome.
And the not so ugly
- I had a lot of flexibility in my schedule, which was really nice. Considering I only had 2 days of classes, I was able to fill the other 3 workdays with work and other things I was working on (i.e. extracurricular items, post-grad applications, summer job applications, etc.)
- I have been able to pursue things I love, outside of the classroom. The job I have writing these blogs has been such a wonderful creative outlet for me and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. It’s been so fun and rewarding for me and has given me a lot of confidence in my writing, which I am so thankful for.
As you can see, reflection can be a very useful tool. Being able to reflect on the last four months reinforced the fact that I am doing a lot of great things that I can be very proud of. Without reflection, it can be very easy to focus on all the little things and become unnecessarily stressed. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but it’s important to remember that everything happens for a reason and that you’re meant to be where you are right now. I have loved my undergraduate experience so far and I wouldn’t want to change any of it for the world!