With the school year winding down, a new group of students will soon be joining the Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber alumni ranks.
That’s right, it’s almost time for graduation and that means it’s also a time for reflection.
Over the course of your time at college or university, you’re bound to learn a few lessons along the way. I mean, that’s part of the experience. But maybe there’s some advice you wish you received in your earlier years to help you in your journey.
So, if you could go back in time, what advice would you want to give your first-year self?
Well, that’s exactly what we asked these soon-to-be grads, so let’s see what they had to say!
“Dear first-year me,
I promise you university is not as terrifying as everyone makes it out to be. In fact, it can very well be the best four years of your life if you just take a chance on yourself. Trust that you are smart enough, resilient enough, and capable enough to accomplish all that you will set your mind to, because you are. One day you’ll hold a degree/diploma in your hands and smile back on the journey. Trust the process for what it is, and the process will become the adventure of your lifetime.”
“Stay close to God and SAVE your money. Work extra shifts, save every dollar you can, treat yourself once a week with a coffee and don’t buy expensive makeup because it adds up. Start saving to pay back your loans, learn about investing, and paying taxes, take a course if you can, and find deals on textbooks. Or, even share the cost with someone because honestly, most times you can get by without it. Also, apply for as many scholarships as possible and don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t do well on tests or assignments. You’ll get over it and you’ll get better with time.
And don’t be afraid to make friends and put yourself out there; there are good people in and outside your program. Join more clubs.”
“There are two pieces of advice I wished someone told me a few years ago. The first one is to connect with more people and open my network. I was so focused on my short-term goals that I wasn’t thinking about the benefits of long-term relationships. Usually, I went home right after class finished, as I felt comfortable with my small bubble of known friends and did not want to know anyone else. I only started networking in my junior year when my academic advisor suggested it. Networking not only increases the chances of landing internships, but meaningful connections could also give you insights into the career you are interested in.
“The second piece of advice is not to hesitate to ask anyone [for insights on] any topic you’re interested in. My first-year self was so afraid to ask questions to experts. Being self-isolated because of my language barrier was a big mistake and made me skip tons of career opportunities in my studies. If I had asked the right person at the right time, I could have listened to other valuable advice, which could powerfully impact my success after graduation.”
“The next four years will be the hardest, most fulfilling years of your life. You will learn and achieve so much academically, athletically, professionally and personally. Never give up on your goals, you ARE capable of achieving them and never let anyone (even yourself) tell you otherwise. Oh, and the spiral stairs never get any easier!”
“Some advice I would give my first-year self is to write everything down! There are times during the program where I felt very overwhelmed and I realized why; I was struggling to remember things that needed to be done! The times I felt most on top of everything was when I was writing it down either in a journal, in my notes, or in a planner.”
“One thing I would tell my first-year self is to enjoy the moment and take advantage of campus resources. Even if feels scary to reach out, joining societies/clubs and events can help in meeting friends and having fun overall. As you get busier and more invested in your senior years with placements/work and school, the memories from the first year will be cherished even more then. It will also encourage you to continue socializing and make more memories.”
“To first year Keithtian, I would say: You are doing well. It is ok that you do not currently have all the answers and don’t be anxious about the next four years. Live in the moment, truly appreciate and immerse yourself in the college experience. Ask for help.
“I would tell first-year Keithtian that despite the challenges, the disappointments, the setbacks and the difficulty, that it gets better and in the end, it will all be worth it. I would advise first-year Keithtian to make friends and connections that will go beyond this degree. Say yes to the opportunities presented to you, with insight and discretion of course. Let your professors know you, introduce yourself, let them personally know any challenges you are having with the course content and also let them know what you appreciated about the course.
“I would tell myself to take advantage of all the opportunities and resources Humber has to offer and go to as many events as possible. I would also tell myself to meet one new person each day you’re on campus and to make the effort to get to know your professors. These four years will go by fast, so make the most of it and take risks; it will benefit who you are as a person and possibly your future career!”
There you have it! Some advice that first-year students are sure to benefit from. Plus, who knows, maybe next year you’ll be the one giving the advice.
And congratulations to all of our soon-to-be grads for making it to the finish line and persevering through a difficult year! We know you’ll be able to tackle anything that lays ahead.
*These interviews have been edited for length and clarity*
If like these soon-to-grads, you’ll be graduating during the pandemic, see how you can celebrate online and in style.