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I Struggled to Find My Best Fit

After high school I got a full-time job, tried open studies, and started an English degree, but none of these paths suited me.

Jan 17, 2017

When I was 18 and fresh out of high school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my future, so I got a full-time job at a local grocery store and waited it out. I figured I’d find something I enjoyed if I just waited long enough, so I settled in at my new job and waited to see what would spark my interest.

I was asked to do payroll and invoicing, and I was surprised to discover that I actually really enjoyed it. The low-stress environment of data-entry was easy, and I began dreaming of myself sitting in an office all day. At the time, it seemed like a totally viable option, so I thought that a commerce degree might be a good fit. Since I had no other options at the time, I decided to apply to the Bachelor of Commerce program at Grande Prairie Regional College.

Starting in open studies

It turns out that since I hadn’t paid much attention in my high school science classes I ended up failing to meet the requirements to be accepted into the program. Fortunately an academic advisor was there to explain my options, and she encouraged me to consider enrolling in open studies instead.

The advisor explained that open studies is a great way to try out classes in a program even if you don’t meet all of the requirements. I’d be able to upgrade while also taking courses towards my degree. I was in!

Fast forward to about two weeks into classes: I came to realize that I wasn’t actually interested in commerce at all... it just wasn’t a good fit for me. Economics was a daily struggle, and I had trouble staying awake in my Introduction to Management class. Coming out of high school I was so scared of making a decision about my next step that I just picked a program I thought would be easy—boy was I wrong! I decided to finish the semester and earn my credits, but I needed to pick a new direction.

At the end of that semester I was feeling really stressed and anxious, so much so that I ended up failing a class: Introduction to Sociology had an F beside it on my transcript. At first, I was devastated. I’d never failed before. Looking back now, I realize that failing taught me almost as much as passing my other classes. I learned a lot about myself. I know now that I have great difficulty putting time into something I don’t enjoy, and that realization pushed me to find something I absolutely love to do. So I left school and went back to working full-time while I figured out my next step.

How about an English degree?

A few years passed and I found myself itching to try something new. Life had grown stale and I missed the thrill of learning and testing myself. I’d been writing since I was a kid, and I loved to read, so it seemed like an obvious choice to pursue a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English. I jumped quickly into that, without really thinking about my end goals or desires.

The classes were great, and I flew through them easily, but I became bored. I stopped wanting to go to class. A few months into the first semester, my mom asked me why I was taking the Bachelor of Arts degree. My mind went blank. I didn’t really know why.

I didn’t have any real ideas of what to do once I graduated with my degree. That sent me into panic mode again, so I sat and thought hard about my life.

What I’ve learned at college

It took some time and some soul-searching, but I’ve finally identified costume design as a path I’d like to pursue. Unfortunately none of the courses I’ve taken will transfer to my new degree, but I don’t consider my early college days a waste of time. Every course I’ve taken has taught me something in its own way, and the time I spent at college figuring out my path was totally worth it.

My commerce classes taught me to pursue what really interests me, not just what seems easy. My failed sociology class taught me a lot about myself, and that failure isn’t a big deal as long as you learn from it. My English classes gave me confidence in my writing and my creativity, and introduced me to a professor who has taught me so much about chasing my dreams. Even though I chose not to pursue a degree in English, she’s been an immense guiding force helping me to prepare for my new venture.

If I find out that my newest post-secondary choice isn’t for me, I won’t consider it a failure either. There’s always something to be learned from new experiences.

Alison

Open Studies
Grande Prairie Regional College

Next year I’m planning to study costume design at a university in England; my dream is to create costumes for BBC productions!

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