It’s my last semester of my degree, which means two things: panicking about the impending future, and procrastinating thinking about the future by thinking about the past. So in an effort to avoid thinking about the fact that I will fully have a university degree in a few months, here are a collection of things I wish I had known before I started five years ago.
1. First things first, it probably won’t take four years, and that’s okay!
I think the idea of being done in four years is an old one, and I wish someone had told me before I started just how likely it was that I wouldn’t be done that quickly. I was so stressed about how many classes to take at a time, and in the end it didn’t even matter. You can take as long as you need to (especially if you want good grades and you’re a procrastinator like me). You’re still going to get a degree if it takes five or six years, I promise.
2. Do not take five classes at a time. Just don’t do it.
I will admit that this is something several people told me. I didn’t listen. And I did it! I got good grades too! But it is not worth the stress of having to juggle that many things. Everyone who tells you not to is right. Listen to them.
3. It’s okay to just be friends with people for a short amount of time.
A lot of people you meet, especially in your first year, aren’t going to be friends for life. There’s nothing wrong with that. You may not have much in common, you may just lose touch. Whatever it is, don’t feel like you need to hold onto people. You’ll make more friends. Just enjoy time with people for what it is.
4. Talk to people anyway.
That being said, you can absolutely meet people at university who will be your best friends for a long time. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers, even if it’s awkward. You might hang out with someone once and never again, or you might meet your new lifelong best friend. You won’t know until you have that first awkward conversation about class with the person sitting next to you.
5. Don’t be afraid to look stupid. No one cares.
This is a big one that I think people struggle with in giant lecture halls. If you get the answer wrong, literally no one is going to remember by the next day. Everyone is way too busy trying to take notes anyway.
6. Join a club.
Again, this is very basic advice which I did not follow for a long time. Maybe you’re afraid to talk to strangers (me too) or you’re too busy to commit time. Whatever the reason is, I think you should do it anyway. You can have so much fun that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Especially at a school like SFU where most people commute in, a club can be one of the only ways for you to socialize. And I promise it’s not as scary as it seems. I joined the CSA four years into my degree, and we’ve done a lot of fun things.
7. Don’t stress about university being the “best years of your life”.
You’re most likely 18 to 22. Those are probably not the best years of your life. Life is long, and it's okay if some of the years you spend at university suck. There will be other years, more things to experience, and probably some more sucky years too. You don’t have to do everything interesting or important in your life before you turn 23.
8. You’re going to be fine after you graduate.
This one is honestly mostly for me. I think if you can make it through everything in your life up till this point, you can figure out what comes after someone gives you a (very expensive) piece of paper. I hope so anyway.