A few things I've learned so far...
I have just finished my last day of classes for third year. Yusssss. It’s not like it’s the end of anything, really. I have exams for the next month and start the summer semester in the first week of May. But, even still, I feel like this is kind of a big deal. I’ve learned a lot these past three years. Probably more than I realize. Not all of the lessons have come from the lectures or readings, either. I thought I’d share with you a few of the things I’ve learned that might be helpful to any high schooler or person entering college/university.
- Take math 12. It’s not a necessary class in high school, at least the one I went to, but it should be. If you don’t know what you want to do and you’re just going to take a bunch of classes in your first year (precisely what I did) TAKE MATH 12 ANYWAY. It is soo much easier to do right after math 11 when everything is still fresh in your mind than it is to do it 3 or 4 years after you’ve already graduated and haven’t taken a math class in as many years. Just take it.
- Think about the things you like. Brittney and I were talking about this the other day. As great as it was to get a taste of a bunch of different subjects it sucks to find out that the courses you’ve taken for the past three years either aren’t going to contribute to your degree at all or are taking up valuable elective room that could have been filled with courses that would contribute to a minor. It’s not a huge deal, but it does feel a bit disappointing knowing you’ve put an effort into a course that didn’t really do much for you.
- Use RateMyProf. People warned me not to rely too heavily on it because the only students who post rating are those who have a gripe with the prof. This is simply untrue. I have read reviews for every professor I have ever had and never have I found the experiences of others to differ much from that of my own.
- Go see a counsellor. The second you think you know what you want to get a degree in, talk to a counsellor/academic advisor. Talking to people I don’t know kind of freaks me out... I put off going to see a counsellor and tried to use my school website so I could avoid talking to a stranger and risk looking silly. This was dumb. Counsellors have the most updated list of necessary courses for every degree and provide so much more information than a school website. They want you to get your degree in the fastest way possible and show you all the ways you can do it. They really are a great resource.
- Ask for help when you need it. This kind of goes along with number four... There is nothing wrong with needing help. Courses can be tough. Life can also be tough. Asking for help, whether it’s school related or life related, is one of the best things you can do for yourself. There is no point in suffering through something when there are great people that can and want to help you.
- You’re going to fail something. It may be a test or it may be a course, and it may happen more than one. And it’s going to suck. But, it isn't the end of the world. The professor isn’t going to judge you, your friends are not going to think less of you, and your family will not disown you.
- All-nighters are dumb. Sure, you might have a huge test tomorrow or a paper due in the morning, but just go to bed. Stay up as late as you can to get it done, but give yourself a break. The work you’re doing at 3am is not your best work. It’s not even your second best work. Set an alarm to get up early and give yourself the chance to sleep for awhile.
- “What is the least amount of work you can do to still get the best mark possible?” This is something someone asked me to consider when I was in grade 10. I was a classic over-achiever who thought that in order to get good grades I had to put everything I had into my work. I didn’t think it was possible that I could do less work and still get good marks. I was wrong. Realizing I could do well without being completely consumed by the assignment really changed how I do my work. This is not to say that I don't put much effort into my work and still expect to do well or don't proofread my essays. All it means is that I do the best work I can until it's done, then accept that I did the best I could do and hand it in.
- Grilled Cheese. They’ll change your life.
- Go to office hours. I feel slightly hypocritical saying this because I am not one to usually go to them. BUT, the few times that I have gone I’ve had great experiences. Twice I’ve gotten grades bumped up just by going and looking over a test and asking a few questions. Even if they don’t bump up your mark they want you to do well and if you show them you care they usually notice.
That’s all I’ve got for now... :)