Three years ago, my University journey was about to start. This new chapter of my life brought with it a bundle of nerves and excitement. I was about to enter what is referred to as the ‘best time of your life’. But would it really be? Would it be similar to High School? Or was I going to be thrown to the wolves? I wouldn’t know until I sat down in that classroom.
A Bachelor of Journalism was my degree of choice, a three year full-time course. Choosing the degree hadn’t been an easy process. It took years of pondering and short work experience at a TV network to assist me with finalising my choice. Although, media had always been an industry I’d been interested in, actually making a decision into whether it was a career path I’d like to follow wasn’t easy. But in the end I kept coming back to a moment in Year 4 where I’d wanted to be a weather reporter, and I’d realised that even after all this time I hadn’t lost my passion for news or reporting.
You might be sitting here and wondering what exactly my end career goal is with my journalism degree. You’d be correct in assuming it would be to be a reporter, but it’s also a little more complicated than that. Over the three years, I had a change of heart quite a bit.
Starting in 2017 my goal was to be a Television reporter. Being on TV and broadcasting news to the entire country was the aim.
2018 and a shift started to occur. Both being a journalist and working in public relations started to become options in my mind. But still nothing was completely clear.
2019 was where the most change happened. A big switch to a career in public relations was the goal. Although I still loved reporting, after a few specific University subjects, my mind was changed.
Now it’s 2020 and I’m happy to announce that after finishing University I’m still unsure as to what career path I hope to follow. With my degree now in my hand I feel more confused than ever. There’s just too many passions and I can’t seem to decide which way to go. Radio? TV? Public Relations? Photographer? Freelancer? Which path do I follow?
Now, University for me wasn’t the most enjoyable experience. I attended, passed all my classes and graduated. Unfortunately, the social expectation of University being the ‘best years of your life’ was a bit of a fail for me. But, it is what you make of it! You can make it a fun and enjoyable! You can do whatever works for you.
Immersing myself in the Universities social clubs and experiences wasn’t something I did, and hanging out with people after class wasn’t a big thing for me either. I guess I just did it, because I knew to be able to get a job in the industry, I needed to have the degree behind me. I also lived quite a distance from my campus and never wanted to hang around any longer than I had to. Because in my eyes it was time wasted from studying or working back home.
Looking back, there’s so many pieces of advice that I wish someone had told me before I’d set foot on that campus in 2017. So I’m going to pass those forward to you. I’m going to hope that one, or if not all of these might help to calm your nerves and provide a little bit of clarity into what University life might be like.
But also, please note that we’re all likely to have different University experiences – based on the campus you attend and also your degree of choice. So please don’t compare your possible experience to mine!
If you’re also looking for more advice I recommend checking out @rolly.mags blog post. It contains advice from a whole collection of University graduates! It’s super helpful!
University is quite different to High School. Say goodbye to the constant support system of your teachers and say hello to independent learning. For me, I’d done a lot of independent learning in Year’s 11 and 12, so this wasn’t a big adjustment, but for a lot of people in my classes I noticed it was.
I’m not saying this to scare you, in fact I actually think independent learning is a good thing. In fact, it’s preparing us for the real world. There were also some teachers that were helpful and would assist you when needed, so I guess I was never completely on my own, just sometimes it felt like it.
The subject outline will be your best friend! Stick to it, follow it, highlight and draw all over it. It’s your subject Bible, live and breathe it. Honestly, without the assessment guidelines and structure of the courses in those subject outlines, I probably would have been in a little bit of trouble. So I recommend following them!
Electives… oh the fun world of choosing electives. If your degree is like mine, then you’ll likely have the option to choose extra subjects to those of your core classes.
At my University I was able to choose electives from any department across the campus. It created a lot of confusion and stress on my front, because how do you choose from so many different subjects? During my first year I didn’t choose very well. I just did random subjects to satisfy the requirements. However, when I got to second year I decided to go with some marketing and public relations classes. It was a wiser choice as it related to my degree a little better than a sociology or linguistics class… Yep I did those.
So I guess my advice here is to choose not only electives that you’d be interested in, but also classes that will build on your knowledge from your core subjects. In simple terms, subjects that may advance you further.
Remember to keep track of your course credits. Because you’ll need to have a certain amount to graduate. If you get confused with keeping track, your Student Central / Services is there to help you.
Understand that University may not fit the social expectations that you had. It may not be this big social party and campus that you’ve seen in movies. You may not make many friends, and that’s okay. For me, I just decided to stick to myself and get the work done. I had a few friends in different classes, but the friendship didn’t really extend beyond the classroom. I found that focusing on my own experience individually, allowed me to just get in and get it done. But again, just because this worked for me, doesn’t mean it will suit you.
My biggest piece of advice is try not to stress. In High School I was an over-achiever and often went way above and beyond to achieve my desired results. But when I got to University I decided that whatever happened would happen. If I got a Participation or a High Distinction it didn’t matter. All that mattered in the end is that I would graduate and would be able to follow my desired career path. Yes, I still cared about my results, but I just wanted to allow myself to take a step back and enjoy the experience.
I think I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent, so back to my point… Just try not to stress! No matter what happens it will all be okay. University is not the be all and end all. If you get there and hate it, the environment or your degree, don’t feel pressured to stay there. Because at the end of the day you need to do what makes you happy, and sacrificing your mental health in the long run isn’t worth it for a piece of paper.
I also did a poll on my Instagram asking my followers ‘if they were to attend University for the first time what questions would they like answered’. I had a few questions asked, so I’ll leave my responses down below.
- What are more realistic expectations of University?
More work and less social time. It’s like High School again, but this time you’re older and the academic expectations are a little bit more intense.
- Are classes offered online and on campus?
This will be different for everyone and their specific University. For me, all my classes were in person and then sometimes I’d have lectures recorded and placed online. This meant I didn’t need to attend the lectures, and could watch them in my own time.
I’m hoping that I haven’t put fear into any first year students starting out at University this year…. If I have I’m so sorry. But I believe in you and you’re going to do amazing! Good luck with it all!
So let me know down below, have you attended or are going to be attending University this year? What are you looking forward to?