University Life: Debunking Myths

For some, university is a symbol of ambition; a haven that will lead them to their ultimate career path. For some, university is a place to form new relationships, to partake in experiences that will shape every aspect of their personality. For some, university is the unknown; a dark and fearful mystery waiting to be unravelled. For all, university is a place that will challenge the depths of their patience; a test leading to their ultimate aspiration.

Myth: The higher the university rating, the more likely it is to lead you to a successful career.

Reality:

Most students, most parents even, instantly correlate a well-renowned university to a high-level job. The most significant factor that should contribute to your decision of applying to a university should be the programs they offer, not their national or international ranking. Look for a program that is equipped to include your long-term academic goals and one intrigues you; a program that will allow you to develop your critical thinking skills while helping you become an expert in your field of study. While being a part of a reputed post-secondary institution may be an asset when applying for work outside of the country, most Canadian employers and graduate programs focus on your academic average and experience rather than your choice of university.

Myth: The “Freshmen 15”: All students gain 15 pounds in first year.

Reality:

While the all-you-can-eat dorm buffets can be tempting, not all freshmen students gain weight. In fact, most students, especially those that live on campus, experience weight loss. Many students find it hard to stay healthy with the stress of exams, mid-terms and last-minute assignments, and often skip meals. Avoiding those late-night cravings for Cool Ranch Doritos and chocolate-glazed donuts as well as allocating study breaks to have a full meal can help first-years maintain their weight. Joining intramurals and the campus gym can also be a great way to stay fit, have fun and meet new people.

Myth: You will have no social life in university. It is all study, study and more study.

Reality:

While you’ll have many late nights in the library, especially during exam week, most students come out of university with life-long friends. You can make friends in lecture halls, at clubs, social events, or even on the campus bus. Frosh week, which is equivalent to orientation week, is also a great chance to meet new people and form relationships with fellow first years. As long as you are outgoing, friendly and active, your university experience will be a memorable and enjoyable one.

Myth: Your undergraduate degree defines your career path.

Reality:

Absolutely not. Students get to experience a variety of courses in their first and second year, and they might switch programs or majors depending on their interests. Though your undergraduate degree defines your qualifications coming out of university, you can take additional courses if you change careers to compensate for the ones you have missed. In addition, many graduate schools, like those for medicine and law, will accept students from any program as long as they have completed certain required courses. In fact, statistics show that people switch careers an average of 11 times in their lifetime.

Myth: All students, especially those living on their own and enrolled in full-time study, are poor and on the verge of starvation.

Reality

Just because you’re enrolled in a university program doesn’t mean you have to be living in a run-down apartment in a deserted neighbourhood and surviving on instant noodles. Most students are able to live on an adequate budget that can cover their fundamental needs and allow them to enjoy experiences outside of university. Student loans, such as OSAP, government education plans, bursaries and scholarships can also provide significant assistance in covering your financial needs. Many students also increase their budget through part-time work and paid internships. Remember to embrace the experience of being in university, always keeping the greater reward at the end of your struggles in perspective.

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