In the spring of 2021, I was looking forward to going to university to become a teacher. I wanted to teach film and social studies as those were my biggest interests, and I was accepted by the three programs that I applied for due to making the honour roll back-to-back years at the end of high school. I was excited to enter this new chapter of my life because I thought this was exactly what I wanted to do. At least, at first.
Part of my experience was hindered at first because the residence building closed at this university due to COVID so I had to do my whole first year online. I learn better in-person, but that was fine since I could just go to the campus next year. My class schedule made it hard for me to be passionate about my program as the class that was about teaching was once a month at best. As the first semester ended, I came to the realization that this is not what I want to do, career-wise. Where do I go from here?
Over the winter break in 2021, I stumbled upon the journalism program at Algonquin College. It caught my attention as it lined up with my interests in film and audio with certain classes. I gave it a shot. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I always kept up with the news, but I never saw myself becoming a journalist because my writing skills were never the strongest throughout high school. I went into the program optimistic yet nervous. However, from the first class we had in person, I found myself getting more and more intrigued by the field that I would be working in. I realized right then that this what I wanted to do with my career.
After a few conversations, my parents knew I was serious, and agreed that it would be okay to try something else, although their preference was that I attend university eventually. I can still do this through the journalism program, which allows students to switch to the University of Ottawa for another two years.
I need to be clear about this: I am not saying that the college experience is better than the university experience for everyone. Both are beneficial in their own ways. I am enjoying the college experience more than university because it feels more “hands-on.” The university workload was more complex and while some can handle that just fine, I am not one of those students. The university program would allow me to actively learn in the field eventually, but the classes I took did not directly deal with what I wanted to do with my life. Almost every class that I am taking in college deals directly with different aspects of journalism. The first semester deals with the basics of journalism and the essentials that need to be known before we try to write professionally. The next semester, we are now members of the Algonquin Times and we now write stories to be published and learn how to improve our skills along the way.
I have learned that it is okay to switch programs if you realize what you are studying no longer interests you. I always thought I would become a teacher or work in the film industry somehow. While I still can in some way, I do not know if that fits all of my interests now. People change over time; it is natural and there is nothing wrong with that. You are not going to have the same friend group that you had in elementary school, and you are not going to have the same interests that you do in high school later in life.
Some people will have the same experience that I did with my program and feel pressured to stay in it even if it does not fit who they are as a person anymore. This could be because of the prestige behind their program or the jobs they can get with it. I would encourage those people to leave those programs and find something that they know will fit them better. Even if you have to spend a little more money, it will still be better than going down a career path that you will grow to resent.