University is a place to figure it out

We’re nearly a month into the school year and most of us have finally settled in. Some of us know what to expect from this institution and what it expects from us. However, for many others, the overwhelming magnitude of university hasn’t set in and it may not for years to come. And that’s okay.

Despite your preconceptions of post-secondary education, this is a time to relish and absorb the diversity of your surroundings. It need not be a mere stepping stone to a greater lot in life, although for many that is exactly what it is. University is a time to explore what the world has to offer, it’s a time to expose yourself to as many ideas and as many people as possible.

Some will come to university with a definite set of goals. They know what they want, when they want it and what they’ll do once they graduate. This type of certainty in one’s peers disheartens those who are unsure of what they want to do with their lives. In fact, it can be downright scary. Take solace in knowing while some of these people will meet or exceed the goals they set for themselves at 17 or 18 years of age, the majority will not.

We live in an era where corporate loyalty is dead and most of us will likely change our careers four, five maybe even 10 times. And 10 or 20 years down the road, all those people who flew through their university years so they could get out into the real world, will meet a shocking realization: they have no idea what they want to do with their life.

So don’t fret about things like majors, minors, degrees and grades. Take them seriously, but only to a point. University is a time for self-exploration. It is not just classrooms, books and exams. It goes a lot deeper than that. It’s about personal growth and searching for your true niche–two things not easily to achieved. And if it takes you six or seven years to find your place in this world, who cares? In the book of life, the time you spend at university will still probably be the shortest chapter. You should leave here truly knowing what you want to do–not just what you think you should do because you enrolled in some program as a teenager. If you have passion for where your life is heading and not just what will earn you the most money, you’ll find that life will unfold the way you envision it.

So slow down, there’s no rush. The real world will still be there when you graduate. Enjoy your time in school and don’t worry if you still don’t know what you want to do when you’re 21. It’s better to figure it out here and now than when you’re 41, trapped in a career you don’t like but can’t quit because you have a mortgage and family to support.

I admit I came to university because I thought it was what I was supposed to do after high school. I enrolled in classes I thought would help me become the millionaire I knew I’d be when I was a kid. Now, in my sixth year of university, I have a real understanding of what I want, and it’s not something I learned in any classroom or from any professor. It’s about what I enjoy and what I’m good at. I now know university isn’t a competition, it’s a tryout.

I’ll graduate this year at the age of 23. I have my whole life ahead of me, and after six years I finally know what I’m going to do with it. So don’t worry if you’re four weeks into your post-high school life you still don’t know what you want to do. Give it time, it’ll come to you.