This might be a controversial post, but it’s coming out of my own experiences as a college student. In my province (Quebec) you complete a 2 year college program after the 11th grade, before jumping into the second year of a university program. These two years allow students to specialize a little bit (my focus was on science), and experience what university is like. It’s helped me learn to manage my time, schedule my classes, and work within an academic frame. All of this has been aiming towards my goal of going to university. And let me tell you something: I was driven. I wanted to get into a good school, into my program of choice. I kept my grades up, staying within the top percentage of students.
But I could have done better. If I want to be honest with you (which I do) I screwed around. I had no goal of where I wanted to get to, so everything felt relative. For some programs a 95 is good enough to get in. For others it isn’t. But I didn’t know what program I wanted.
I lacked passion. There’s no other way to describe it. Sure, the topics were interesting, and the assignments were easy, but that’s not enough to get you into the top tier of university. Before I knew it, programs began slipping out of my reach. Medicine, neuroscience, two programs I had kept my eye on were both too selective for me to get in. I wanted to do well out of a sense of obligation, not out of an interest in the subjects that I was studying. Next thing I knew, it was time for applications. I applied to a varying of programs within my interests: biology, mathematics, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering. Only midway through the application process did I see a program that seemed interesting: bioengineering.
I looked at the department’s page, reading up on the program, its requirements, and the courses required. For once, I was fascinated. I was excited. I applied, making it my top choice at my preferred university: McGill. Then it struck: were my grades good enough? Looking through the records of student enrollment, I found out that the program was new (had only begun fall of 2016) and as a result there weren’t really any standards for what grades were required. I began to worry. What If I wasn’t good enough? The more I read up on the program, the more I came to the conclusion that this was the program for me. As the application deadline passed, I was accepted into every program I applied to. Except Bioengineering, which still hadn’t given me any results. Scouring online for any information I could get, I found some that horrified me. Only 50 students were accepted into the program. The worst part: over 1500 students had applied. That means that only the top 3% of students would be accepted, making it the most competitive engineering program at McGill. I was flooded with motivation. I got on top of my studying, did my assignments well, and took amazing notes. The truth was, though, that it was too late. What I did now didn’t have any bearing on whether or not I got in.
I needed that passion sooner. I realize now that not having a concrete goal to work towards held me back throughout my CEGEP years. Although I did get into Bioengineering, my lack of interest in my courses put that career option in danger for me.
So readers, how do you accomplish your academic goals?