Your Studies Aren’t Written in Stone

When I started my first semester of classes at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, I was more or less comfortable with my programs and various classes. I was enrolled as an English major as a placeholder until my acceptance into the CCIT program (Communication, Culture, and Information Technology), and chose psychology and earth science as minors. Since I received straight As in all of my high school English classes, I wasn’t too intimidated by my first-year English class, even though it involved reading and analyzing about 10 novels and a plethora of challenging poetry. I also thoroughly enjoyed my introductory psychology class; the subject matter was fascinating, the tests weren’t too tough and, most importantly, I had a great professor who made me eager to attend each week.

But toward the end of first year, I started to have doubts. I struggled to keep up with the heavy work load doled out to us poor freshman English students during an arduous eight-month-long class, and my marks in psychology were less than stellar. My doubts were amplified second year, when my psychology and earth science classes seemed to be 10 times more difficult. To make a long story short, I was accepted into the CCIT major program and I never took another university-level English class. I also changed both of my minors—I replaced psychology and earth science with professional writing and art history. And you know what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Coming out of high school, few of us know what we’ll end up doing with our lives, and those of us who think we know may have our perspectives radically changed after a couple years of eye-opening post-secondary education. It’s a time of personal development as much as intellectual expansion; you’ll learn a lot about your strengths and weaknesses, what you enjoy doing, and what you aspire to do after graduation. All of these factors will help you pinpoint what you want to learn about and what skills you want to master. Maybe it’s not an option in a two-year college program, but in a four-year university stint there’s no reason to feel guilty about changing your program(s)—even two to three years into it. Sometimes this means you have to take a summer class or two (or even an extra year of classes), but it’s a small price to pay to study the subjects you’re most interested in while nurturing your passions and aspirations.

My advice is to take a wide variety of classes in your first year of university. Get a feel for what you’re good at and what you enjoy learning, and then act upon that insight when choosing classes in your second and third years. If you aren’t enjoying an area of study or aren’t getting the grades you want/need, consider switching that program for a more appealing option. In all likelihood, you’ll be glad you did.

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