I like the idea of a buffet: you get to try a variety of dishes, see which ones you like and which ones you don’t like, have a bit more of what you like, and hopefully have an enjoyable experience where you learned a thing or two about food. To me, the university experience can be very much like a big buffet.
When you come to university, you are given a wealth of opportunities. Of course, there is your academic program, where you likely have some degree of choice in what you want to study. Outside the classroom though, the possibilities are also endless. I am a public policy student. In my first year, I was a Page in the House of Commons, and I continue to work on Parliament Hill today. On the side, I have also volunteered with the United Nations Association in Canada, where I had the opportunity to lead their flagship educational conference for youth from across the country.
Perhaps everything I have mentioned so far seems typical of a public policy student. However, I have come to appreciate the freedom that the university experience provides, and have taken the opportunity to try a variety of other things that one might not normally expect from a student in my program. I have tried to broaden my learning by taking courses in areas such as psychology, law, and criminology, purely out of personal interest. I am a first responder with the Carleton University Student Emergency Response Team (CUSERT), which provides 24/7 emergency medical response services on campus. This past summer, I also decided to try something completely different and took a job in law enforcement in the field. It might seem odd for a public policy student to be getting involved in emergency response or law enforcement. However, I have come to realize how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to try these things. These are only experiences that I could have only because I was a university student.
Of course, there are those who know what they want to after graduation and are able to focus their studies and activities around their goals. If you are one of those people, I envy you. But for those of us who are not quite sure what we want to do in life, university is more than just an academic learning ground. It is a realm of choices, where you have the opportunity to try things in a way that you would not be able to do so in the working world. There are so many things to try, both inside and outside of the classroom. As university students, we can take the time to taste a bit of everything and see what we like and don’t like, in order to help us make choices about what we want to do in life. The possibilities are endless.
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