What was your undergrad experience like?

There’s an interesting article in the Globe and Mail this week called Why University shouldn’t just be a ticket to a job. I don’t think university is a ticket to a job, but that’s another subject.

One of the focuses of the article, is the idea that university is a place to grow and learn how to think. They talk about one student who went back for a second degree and had a much difference experience.

This time around he enrolled in psychology—and his experience couldn’t have been more different. For this, he credits his professors, some of whom challenged him in ways no one had before. But a change in his attitude also played a role. He read assignments with a more critical eye, asked questions, participated in class discussions and sought out professors after class.

I was lucky, and had this type of attitude and experience during my undergrad, but I definitely met a lot of students who didn’t. I do think, if you don’t have an experience like this, it’s going to be much harder to end up in grad school for a couple of reasons. One, it’ll be difficult to find professors who know you well enough to write a reference letter and two, you probably aren’t going to be as aware of what going to grad school really means and the opportunities available.

The article also talks about some of the current criticisms of university:

Students complain about rising tuition fees and overcrowded classrooms. Professors gripe about the lack of student preparedness and declining academic standards.

While I agree (to some degree) with these, I also really agree with the quote in the article from Eli Cwinn, a masters student at the University of Guelph.

“University can be either as big as you want or as small as you let it.”

Sure, what university you are at, what program you are in, and who you meet is going to largely affect your experience. But, at the end of the day, it’s up to each individual to make the university experience into what they want/need.


One thought on “What was your undergrad experience like?

  1. i think the same attitude can be applied to graduate school. Unless you are tracking on a path toward something concrete (like an MBA which, even then, nothing is guaranteed) it can be difficult to answer the question, “Oh a Master’s in [enter degree here]… interesting. What are you going to do with that?” When I’m asked questions like these, I try to remember that I am going back to school because of the experience, the perspective I will gain and the opportunity to start on a permanent career.

    Since some of the people reading this may be transitioning out of undergrad, or are years removed and considering graduate school, I’ll plug a little three-part guide that I wrote. I hope it helps.


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