Dear First Year Student: Embrace the Tough Choices


If you’re anything like me, you’re probably elated that all the dilemmas and decisions you faced during your senior year of high school are now behind you. You’ve picked your university (great choice by the way), you’ve picked a general stream of study, and that all-too-stressful decision of what to wear to prom is now a distant memory. When I was in your position last year, I thought the tough decisions were behind me. I’m sure you’ve realized by now that that isn’t the case. Since beginning university, I’ve had to face more tough decisions that involve asking questions with answers that aren’t so clear.

When I started school, I realized how different my degree was from what I expected. The work was so challenging and sometimes it was difficult to keep up with my classes. I had to ask myself whether I was actually in the right degree program, a challenging decision. As the year progressed I began to ask myself whether what I was studying was meaningful, and if there was a way I would be able to use my degree to help others. During times when my first year was particularly challenging, I had to ask myself why I wanted to get a degree in the first place.

A lot of the time we just rush into the next stage of our life without stopping to  reflect on our motivations and intentions, so these questions are all really valuable. And while I’m still figuring out the answers to them, I’ve realized that this is the time in my life when I should be more focused on asking questions, and making tough choices, than getting answers.

So, my first-year friend, my advice to you is to take the time to ask big questions. Because every day of your life you’ll have to make decisions; some will be easy and others will seem really tough, but each one will tell you a little bit more about yourself and what you value.