Change is Good: A Personal Story|
By Kate Hollingsworth
When I was in grade 11 I decided what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I was attending a performing arts high school in Ottawa for voice and drama at the time, but that wasn't my calling. I wanted to be a doctor, more precisely a pediatrics doctor. I soaked up my science classes, had high marks in my OAC biology and chemistry and "knew" that I would one day be one of the best doctors around.
I researched where I wanted to go to university, by grade 12 I had decided on the University of Guelph. Guelph was one of two universities in Ontario that offered a bio-medical program and that's what I wanted to do. (Little did I know that the bio-med program is actually geared more to animals than humans and to study humans at Guelph you take human kinetics classes - wish I'd known that earlier!). I worked hard in my last years of high school ensuring that I had good marks and enough extra-curriculars to guarantee my admittance. I did get in, and into my program, without much difficulty.
I moved to Guelph and started school. I was excited. Of course I knew that the classes would be more difficult and the course load would increase, but I took this as a challenge and was excited by the prospect of all that I was about to learn. I still maintained my competitive edge, in high school I liked being one of the smarter students and was hoping to continue that in university. What I found out about university soon after I started here was this: People are not competitive with each other in university, they are competitive within themselves. Doing the best you can is what matters, not doing better than those around you. Also, if you are passionate about what you are learning and you are diligent about your studies you will succeed. I truly believe that anyone can come to university and end up with a degree, but it takes a lot of hard work and the love of knowledge.
Somewhere in the first year of sciences I lost that passion. When I began university I stopped my music and my drama extra-curriculars and concentrated on my sciences. Thinking that this was my passion, I thought that the other activities I had been interested in weren't important to me anymore. I was wrong. I was unhappy without my music and my theatre stuff. In fact, I was so unhappy that I started looking at my sciences as a form of punishment rather than a learning goal.
At the beginning of second year I became involved in a theatre production of Maxim Gorky's "The Lower Depths" with the drama department. I was the assistant director. This was a pivotal moment in my university career. I was still struggling through my science courses but I had decided to let art be a part of my life again. In doing this production I met one of my best friends, a fourth year theatre major, who, over the course of the rehearsals and performances talked to me a lot about University and studies. When I told him I was not happy as a Bio-Med major he said to me something like, "you have a talent for the arts, you are obviously happy when you are in the theatre and working with an artistic community. You have the option to change your mind at any time about your major, your university career and your life path. You don't have to be in sciences." He predicted that by the end of my second year I would have changed my major to theatre and that I would be much happier. And I did change, not because of my marks, not because I was afraid of science, but because I wanted to be happy. That's another thing I've learned at university: The most important thing is to be happy, no matter what you are doing.
My switch into theatre and music (I added that minor in third year) has been one of the best decisions of my life. I enjoy my classes, my extra-curriculars actually help me with my course work and I've met some of the most amazing professors, students and people involved in the arts. That's not to say that there weren't amazing people and opportunities in the sciences, it's just that I wasn't looking for them.
I am going into my fourth and final year here at U of G. Yes, it is possible to change degrees and colleges and still make it out on time; it just takes good planning to ensure that you get all the credits you need. After this year, I am planning on going on to teachers college and hope to be teaching primary grades within the next couple of years, though anything is possible at this point. I guess that's another thing that university has taught me: university is not your entire life. Making the decision that is right for you at that moment is what is important, because who knows what the future holds. I sure don't, I can tell you that.
Good luck with all your choices while in university.