University: The Ultimate Balancing Act

Posted: July 25, 2014 in Education

“I hated assigned seating in high school. I mean, what are we in, 6th grade? But honestly, I needed to sit in the same seat during my University lectures…” – anonymous

I remember my first day of University like it was yesterday. Outside of my dorm were a group of eager upper-year students ready to help take my belongings to what would be my room for the next 8 months. My roommate never showed, so I found out that day that I would have a double-occupancy room to myself. To someone with a mild case of OCD, who is a self-diagnosed germophobe, and who has the youngest child’s inability to share, I was quite pleased to say the least.

The next 8 months (and really, the rest of my University career) would test my ability to balance the ever-increasing pieces of my life. These include, but are not limited to, attending classes (never went regularly until my upper years), working at the campus nightclub, attending social events (which, for my first year, included underage drinking), and making time for studying. Luckily, I surrounded myself with the right friends that never forced me to drink or go out when I had to study and never forced me to do anything I didn’t feel comfortable with. University asks a lot from an 18-year old…

At 18, it’s tough choosing to do work rather than attend a party or attend a class rather than watch a Leafs game. The freedom felt can be overwhelming. In the process of living away from home and meeting new friends, you are basically expected to be an adult and, honestly, your professors don’t care if you show up to class or not, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Many University-bound students have heard wonderful stories from their older siblings or older friends about the parties, the freedom, the drinking, the girls/guys, and the days with no class, and it all sounds glamorous. And it is. But without the ability to balance your social and academic life, you run the risk of falling too far one way or another – yes, even falling too far into academics can be unhealthy.

Make good choices. Surround yourself with the right people. Get involved (it’s actually cooler if you do – trust me). Have fun. Be safe.

The whole idea around University has changed over the years. It still remains as the place to go to for a solid post-secondary education and of course, a degree from a University is always a nice piece of paper to have. However, a University degree does not guarantee a graduate with a career anymore. Moreover, more and more students are attending University simply because that’s what you do after high school as opposed to attending because it’s a necessary step to achieve one’s personal goals. But, like I said, graduating with a degree is always a good thing whether you use it one day or not.

I can’t speak to what it’s like having a roommate (most of my floor mates got along well with their roommates though), but I can speak to what it’s like being exposed (or in some cases more exposed) to life outside of high school. Though much studying takes place, it is often overshadowed by a world of sex, drugs, dance music, girls/guys, drinking, parties, going to bed at 4am (or not going to bed at all), and waking up with a massive headache. It’s not as easy as “avoiding it” because it has seemingly become the culture of undergraduate studies, but the idea is to understand that these things exist and be mature enough to make the right choices.

My Priest (some years ago) urged the University/College-bound students of our congregation to place their Bible on their pillow as soon as they move into their dorm in September. “This act,” he said, “will solidify who you are to your new roommate and show that you are proud of your roots and have nothing to hide or be ashamed of.” I didn’t quite have the courage to do that, but what I remember doing was wrapping my Power Rangers bedsheets over my new dorm bed thinking to myself: My new floor mates will just have to deal with who I am. If they can’t respect my love for Power Rangers at 18, then they aren’t fit to be my friends.”

None of my floor mates ever mentioned the sheets.

Just be you.



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