(Disclaimer (sort of): While this is NOT a sponsored post, I am writing about Experience DC as a favour to a good friend of mine. My opinions and my own college experience are obviously my own, and I have been wanting to write about my time in college anyway so it worked out!)
This time of year always makes me nostalgic for college. We live near a university and seeing all the students around with their bright eyes and their books and their crop tops makes me miss those carefree times of youth. Not so much high school, although I enjoyed it, there is too much math there to make me want to go back. But college, oh yes. I’d go back in a heartbeat. I loved it. I really thrived there.
Choosing which school I went to and what I was going to take was a really difficult decision for me. All through high school I assumed that I was going to be a teacher when I grew up, but then when graduating I realized that wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I have always loved writing and telling stories, but I didn’t know how to go about making that a career. I applied to a bunch of universities and accepted to attend Brock University in St. Catharines in the fall after graduation for Business Communications. Mainly because I didn’t really know what I wanted to take and I had a friend in that program and he was really enjoying it. And also, I got the highest entrance scholarship to that school out of the others I applied to. Maybe that was the main reason.
But around that time was hard for me personally, as I had some family things happening and my home life was quite unsettled. And when I realized just how much everything was going to cost, especially if I lived in residence, and when I took into consideration that I didn’t even know what I wanted to do…I backed out last minute. I decided to take some time off and work and save money and figure out what I wanted to do.
I was young and not exactly confident, and I was mostly not confident in that particular decision because I was the only one of my friends, and really one of the only people I knew, who wasn’t going away to school. People would ask me all the time where I was going and what I was taking and WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?! And where I was from, going away to university was such a big thing. It is what everyone who was doing something with their life was supposed to do. So I received some flak for my decision. When I told people my plan of taking the year off and just working and seeing what happened, I really felt judgment. People thought if I lost the momentum, I would never go back to school. I’m not making that up, people actually said that to me. Because if I wasn’t going away to school THAT YEAR, I was doomed to work at Dairy Queen the rest of my life.
I ended up taking two years off before I signed up for Journalism – Print and Broadcast, a three-year program at Durham College. It wasn’t a big name university (think state school equivalent) and it wasn’t far from my hometown, but I have never once regretted that decision or how I got there. It was the best experience of my life. I loved every moment of being in that school and doing well in that program, and I really did thrive. I felt like Journalism was made for me. In addition to taking law and history, I learned how to properly write, for newspapers, magazines, web, ads, TV, radio… I learned graphic design and how to layout a newspaper and a magazine. And print and digital photography, and Photoshop, and what to do in a darkroom. I learned how to film video and how to edit that video and how to be on camera. I was the editor of our school’s newspaper, The Chronicle (co-editor with my good friend Lisa, and if you click on that link you can read my old news stories), and I consistently got the highest mark each year (got a scholarship!) and actually graduated as the highest ranking graduate in the program (no money with that one, just a star beside my name in our graduation program…but I will take it).
I made lifelong friends who I will love forever.
Our program was small and intimate, and I genuinely loved everyone in it. Even our professors (maybe ESPECIALLY our professors). After seeing each other every single day for three years, we all became extremely close. I felt like my entire class was a family and I think about everyone all the time. I am just sad that I am no longer in a situation where I am forced to hang out with them every day. Anyway, you don’t have to take my word for it…I made a video about my favourite school experiences.
(oh that video makes me miss school even more. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep that up forever, so ya better watch it while you can!)
I am now head of marketing and communications for a great company, which no, is not exactly journalism, but it was that program that gave me the skills to basically work wherever I want (and I have this blog to fill in the gaps). But the most important thing I took away from that program is confidence. I gained an incredible amount of self confidence in those three years.
I am so glad that I waited and figured out what I really wanted to do before I jumped the gun and wasted a million dollars. Actually, this just came in the mail.
Which reaffirms that it was the best decision for me. Had I gone to a more expensive school, and had I stayed in residence, my student debt would have tripled. So don’t let people make you feel pressured into taking a certain path. You do what’s right for you and if people are going to get all judgy about it, forget them. Different paths lead to different places, or maybe they will lead you to the same place, who knows. But it is ALL about experience.
So to that point, my school, Durham College, has recently launched Experience DC, bringing the college experience to prospective and current students, parents, teachers, and the community. A group of students representing a cross-section of programs, interests and personalities are each offering a unique perspective of what a year in the life of a DC student is like through this website as well as other social media platforms (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) I would have loved to participate in this while I was at DC.
For more info and to meet the group of students you can visit the Experience DC website. My DC experience is definitely near and dear to my heart! I hope these students have a great one as well.