A Letter to My College Self

Dear You,

How’s things going? Are you in the first or second round of post-secondary education? The first? Ok. Right about now you’re falling hopelessly, ridiculously and not-at-all-grounded-in-reality in love with every liberal arts class you’re taking. Get through the semester first before you make any rash decisions okay? What else is happening right now? Oh right, you’ve found an amazing falafel stand that is open till 3 in the freaking morning! You’ve also learned that Montreal has easily the BEST public transportation in Canada and you’re growing to appreciate classes that don’t start at 8 in the morning. Fast forward to the second round. Are you OVER school yet? Technical colleges are different than universities hey? Are you appreciating the colder weather and the teeny tiny class sizes? What about that mega babe you have lab class with? Don’t dip your pen in the company ink… My sweet, younger self, why you have so much to learn, and you will (don’t worry), but I fear you may have headed into catastrophe woefully underprepared for your first and only year in university, and your two years in technical college. You’ll get through it all, trust me, but let’s give you some parcels of wisdom, ya?

  1. It’s SUPER easy to get a student loan. (**I live in Canada, we have an easy and often forgiving system of money lending) Which has it’s pros and cons. If you’re planning on paying for your education with someone else’s money, make damn sure it’s the government’s and not a bank’s. But don’t have any delusions, you’ll still have to pay that back, and you’re looking at about 10 years of payments at about $3-400 a month. (For a $25-40,000 loan, ROUGHLY.) Consider this: If you pay the minimum payment every month because you’re cheap and have a mild drinking problem, with interest you’ll more than likely pay off your student loan, TWICE. Think about that principal sum, interest, financial jargon bullshit before you get hasty and borrow all the money for all the things.

    The good news is, you can file for bankruptcy 10 years after you go to school and your loans will dissolve as well.
  2. Pertaining to the above topic, YES, please do what you love. For the love of GOD if you love something, endeavour into it. Absorb ALL you can from it, read all the books, study all the people. Dive into what you love naked and swim around. Pee in what you love and let it crawl back up your urethra, giving you a very questionable infection. BUT. You need to be real about what life looks like for you doing what you love vs. doing what makes money. (You know those assholes where what they love and what makes money are one in the same? Assholes.) A classic dilemma. One that you’ll probably wrestle with for a long time. The point is, brace yourself for the life that often accompanies certain professions. Prepare yourself for how, often our passions are terribly underfunded and sorely under appreciated. I know you want to be a writer for the rest of your life, but it’s hard, and it doesn’t immediately pay the bills. So, you need to do something else to keep your head above water. Unfortunately, that’s your current reality.
  3. Just because you have a post-secondary education does not mean you are guaranteed a job. I’ve said it before, and you’re damn right I’ll say it again. Doesn’t our generation suffer ENOUGH with assumptions of entitlement? Now we assume we deserve everything because we made it through a 4 year/2 year/apprenticeship program? You don’t deserve anything. You deserve that shiny piece of paper in your hand and your insurmountable student loan. You’ll soon realize that after graduation, just because you took a diploma program related to energy in a resource dependant province, you actually won’t get a job the second your foot is out of the college door. If you want it, you need to work tooth and nail for it. If you realize you don’t want it hard enough to work for it, at least you realized it, now start working for the things that you want. If it’s takes you for-fucking-ever to figure out what you want, so what. Literally no one knows what the fuck is going on.college_c_150852
  4. Don’t pick a program because you feel an insufferable pressure to pick SOMETHING, instead of nothing. You’ll soon see that you won’t end up working in any field you went to school for and that your $25,000 student loan is the cost of a lot of missed classes and some really solid friendships. (You’ll maintain later in life that the people you met were worth that price tag.) Remember that any education is invaluable, 100%. Ask yourself what your education is worth to you if you went for free. Now, ask yourself if going for the sake of, well going, is worth that money you’ll eventually have to pay back. If you are uncertain of what to take, or if you should go at all, wait. Take a year off, travel to a foreign country, fall in love, work a shit job for shit pay, go sky diving. Whatever! Chances are, in that year you spend with yourself, you’ll learn a lot. You may find the answer of ‘what to do’ in an experience, instead.

    But, if you do travel, don’t become one of those awful people that calls themselves a ‘citizen of the world.’
  5. Decide what kind of post-secondary experience you want to have from the start and that will probably save you some time and money in the long run. Do you like smaller class sizes, one-on-one learning, practicing with your hands and having a group of the same 20 people everyday for only a couple of years? A technical college is probably your best bet. It’s there you’ll learn hands on, practical skills. Trades, culinary arts etc. Or, do you prefer larger class sizes, learning from a lecture instead of a presentation, theoretical work, textbook learning and papers? University is probably more your style. Both choices have their merits, and are incomparable in terms of value. Some people aren’t cut out for University, some people struggle with hands on learning, it just makes them different learners.

If you decide to throw in the towel, I promise I won’t judge you. We are in a time now where Universities and Colleges aren’t job factories anymore and are often not the first answer. There are unlimited options, you’re young, take your time. It’s not a race to the finish line. It blows by so fast you’ll stand back and wonder where it all went.


Future You

P.S., Buy your textbooks used, not new. It’s a corporate shakedown and you know it.

4 thoughts on “A Letter to My College Self

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