Now that we’re almost into April and spring, I’m also almost into the end of my second year here at U of T.
And I can’t help but think about the fact that I am indeed, Halfway There.
Halfway through my undergraduate degree and a mere two years from graduation.
Time doesn’t just fly- it soars.
Second year is always a bit awkward, though.
The exciting newness of the university experience has long since worn off.
You no longer wander around campus in wide-eyed wonder; in fact, you’ve probably guided the occasional lost first-year with comfortable ease.
You’ve lost many a dear shoe to the muddy goop-patch that is King’s College Circle after the rain (if you’re fond of your footwear- go around, never cross)
You’ve even witnessed the rebirth of Rosi.
Now here’s the thing about being in second year, though.
While you might be another year wiser, it’s a whole different ballgame you’re playing.
You’re now expected to know things and build upon concepts you learned in first year to get by in courses.
Your actions are now more careful and calculated- things like grad school, resumès, and careers are becoming more important than ever. (this may or may not coincide with poring over other people’s LinkedIn profiles and questioning your own involvement levels)
You’re continuously haunted by the prospect that ‘everything counts now’.
And while there are countless brochures, blogs and books guiding you on how to deal with the massive bungee jump from high school to university, there are precious few advising you on how to manage the decidedly big leap from your first to your second year.
Upon reflecting on these past two semesters, here’s a few of the things I personally found different about this year:
Like it or not, you’re one big step closer to having to face the real world. As scary as that might sound, it’s also exciting.
There’s still two years left to hone and tone yourself to prepare for the professional world and all that you have to offer it.
Get involved, *gulp* network (there are some great posts on how to do this written by my co-bloggers) and read lots.
It’s always a good idea to stay in the loop about what people who have previously studied what you’re studying are up to now. Alumni that I have approached in the past have been immensely helpful and full of advice on how to get the most out of your undergraduate experience to prepare for the future. Consider attending an informal alumni dinner or keep an eye out for the Backpack to Briefcase Series to connect with U of T alumni in your field of study.
I, for one, had this naive little idea back in high school, that all four years I’d spend at university would follow a consistent theme. I thought I’d be surrounded by the same group of friends, taking classes with similar themes and enjoying an ever-sparkling social life.
Naturally, that’s not quite how it worked out all the time.
Remember that things change, and accept that each year brings a wave of new challenges, experiences and adventures.
Thinking about….(sigh) careers!
I think there’s no better time than second year to give yourself a little check-in to make sure you’re going in the right direction to achieving academic and career goals.
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who knows 100% what direction you’re headed in (gosh, I’m envious), it wouldn’t hurt to have the experts confirm. Booking a one-on-one appointment with an advisor over at the Career Centre is a great way to get in some great advice and suggestions for the future.
Considering I was quite new to Canada when I first moved here in the beginning of university, I thought my ‘international experience’ box was well and truly ticked off. But back in November, helping out with the Go Global fair and listening to students’ incredible study-abroad experiences, I’m starting to warm towards the idea of spending a summer in sunny old France, immersing myself in the French language, culture and of course, cuisine!
Lots of students spend semesters abroad, particularly in their third year- and there’s no time like the second to plan for it! University represents the best opportunity to experience a different environment and get academic credit at the same time.
(Do it before you’re left with four measly weeks of vacation time a year!)
And lastly, a bit of advice from an old student:
A friend of mine who has now long graduated put it quite well:
’First year is the year of adjusting.
Second year is the year of exploring.
Third year is the year of knowing.
And fourth year is the year of doing.”
How do you feel about second year, U of T?