Lauren Pelley, a Western University grad, recently wrote an article in our university’s alumni newspaper about an important lesson she learned while looking back on her university experience. She found that while it is important to get good grades in university, the more important takeaways are the skills that can be applied to real life jobs more than a good grade on an exam. As a current university student, I agree with Pelley’s message.
University is supposed to be the most fun and formative time of your life; and I have come to realize (through a constant lens of self awareness) that while my grades are important (I need to maintain an 80% average), I will never have this opportunity again. To be surrounded by friends and people my own age, to have few responsibilities and “real world” stresses, and to be young. I am privileged to be at university, living on campus, and to have a fun and supportive group of friends. That in itself is a reason to enjoy this short time and not spend it only studying.
As for the true takeaways of university, I definitely agree that it’s about a lot more than course content and marks. As someone who has taken a wide variety of electives that have very little to do with my future career goals (enviro sci, film studies, food history), I admit that I have questioned the importance of assignments before. And while I may never need to know how urbanization affects aquatic biodiversity, that first year group project taught me how to work with people and tackle complex assignments. Grades only really last for as long as people still look at your transcript (so not long after you graduate), while the work ethic and other skills you gain will go with you in everything you do.
Western seems to have a culture of “Work Hard, Play Hard” meaning that students pour hours into school work and studying while still having fun, and I think that maintaining this balance is one of the most important things you can do in school. “Play Hard” doesn’t have to mean the typical parting, but also represents doing fun things outside of school like hanging out with friends and practising self care. I am glad that I have been able to keep up this balance, and during this midterm season and beyond I will keep Pelley’s advice in the back of my mind (between the statistics formulas and the history of the cocoa bean).