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What's University Good For?

Power Walking, Choosing Your Major, and Feeling Absolutely Dumb

I used to envy those people who had a plan for their life. They knew what was up and they were set on making their goals happen. They were determined and dedicated—nothing could deter them. These people are superheroes—they don't really exist. 

I was a Psych Major for three months. I thought Psychology seemed like a good idea because I could get a stable job at the end as a clinical psychologist. 

One day, sitting in my political science class, I finally got the courage to raise my hand and answer a question. I got the question wrong. The guy in front of me turned around, rolled his eyes, and said "you confused Lieutenant Governor with Governor General." My little undergraduate spirit was shattered, but only for a second. 

After that second of self pity, I got passionately angry. I was angry that the guy in front of me seemed to think he was better than me.

That's when I knew I wanted to be in political science. I knew I wanted to be constantly challenged and I knew I wanted to put guys in their place (politics is mostly just a bunch of guys that think they know how to run the world). And that’s how I feel when I’m studying. The guy in front of me basically said "you must not know much," and my mind's auto response was "wait for it."

Side note: two years later, I saw that same guy get schooled by a prof in class. It was very sweet. 

I started waking up, running out of the house with a bagel in my mouth after a few hours of sleep, and then power walking to class while I did practice quizzes on my phone. I loved it. 

University students glorify overworking ourselves as if pulling an all-nighter once a week and drinking four cups of coffee before noon is just part of the student life. It's not.

I'm a fan of dry shampoo and power walking, but please know that successful people are not made from nights without sleep and wine for dinner. They are made from people being passionate and dedicated to themselves, not just their work. And they know when they need some sleep.

Let's fast forward to today—the end of year three. I'm sitting in a café in Victoria and it's raining. It feels normal and lovely. I'm still a Political Science major and I still don't know much. 

University doesn't actually teach you anything, it just gives you questions to ask and the tools you need to give answers. Your answers, though, only lead to more questions. That's how they keep people doing all these Masters and PhDs—every student graduates with a piece of paper and a head full of new questions about the world. 

These degrees all cost money, and inevitably, you will not have scads of it as a student. It becomes more and more difficult as time goes on to change majors or shift life paths entirely, but it never becomes impossible. 

University is good for a few things, but the actual piece of paper is relatively worthless in today's world. If you want to be successful post-grad, you have to use university as the resource it is. There are people in those halls and posters on those walls that only you, as a student, can meet and see. All you have to do is keep your eyes open. 

If you’re in first year or graduating high school, you’re in for an interesting few years. Whatever happens, I hope you learn something that excites you and flips the way you view the world. Don't ever stop searching for answers to your questions, even though you may never fully find them.  

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