I am so close. I have two more assignments to complete before I can officially say I am done my undergraduate degree. It is a strange feeling, realizing that you are almost done a project that has been five years in the making. It has taken a lot of hard work and a few tears, but I am finally going to graduate.
The thing about impending graduation is that it makes you a bit nostalgic. You begin to think of all the things you’ve done and the people you will miss. That is natural right?
But is the cynicism natural?
I had a ton of fun at university.I became involved in our student newspaper, went to parties, and worked on campus. During my time at the student newspaper I grew immensely, moving from volunteer, to staff writer, to news editor, and then finishing off my career in sports. I learned how to interview, write, research, and take criticism. I was given the opportunity to speak with the president of the university, Steve Paikin, Alex Trebek, and took part in an episode of Power and Politics with Evan Soloman. Through all of this, I have become a more confident and knowledgeable person—someone ready to tackle the challenges of “real life.”
But none of that had to do with the actual university.
When I entered the University of Ottawa, I was still a naive, young girl who thought learning about neoconservative or Plato’s allegory of the cave would help me succeed in life. Well, that naivety is gone, and while I don’t regret my five years at the U of O, I wonder how useful the actual experience was.
I believed that studying political science in the capital would be useful, but I didn’t learn much outside of theory. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that theory is useful, especially in an academic setting, but did it really have to transpire through five years of schooling! It is my last year at the U of O and my final classes have ALL revolved around political theory—and none of it is useful! If I want to become a politician, do I really have to decide whether I will use a neomarxist approach to my policies, or maybe a social institutionalist outlook on law.
Perhaps this cynicism is directly tied to my program. Studying political science is not something you do if you want to become a politician, or even a political journalist. You don’t learn about the electoral system, nor political parties. You don’t learn about what it takes to pass a law, how the judicial system works, or how trade functions. You are not required to take a class in economics. This program is meant to create academics, people who will go forward and study theory, and then proceed to teach it.
I was having a drink with my Canadian politics professor the other day, and he was explaining how there are too many people with PhDs and how teaching jobs were sparse. As I sat there, pretending not to see this conversation as awkward, I felt like saying, “well, if you taught us something useful maybe there would be less people going into teaching.”
And here comes my humble realization—all of my university success has derived from my own ambition. When they say “university is what you make of it,” they mean it literally. If you are just heading into post-secondary education, please take note of this. Use this opportunity to really find yourself, and as cheesy as it sounds, do get involved on campus. Because really, that is the only way you will learn.