Student Voices: Seeing the trees, and the forest too | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Seeing the trees, and the forest too | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Seeing the trees, and the forest too

Why uncertainty in your academic plans can be a good thing

As we get into a new term, the academic stress that faded away during the winter break is slowly starting to become a reality again. For many students, this stress is compounded by second-guessing the decisions they have made and asking themselves if they are on the right path.

When these thoughts first start to cross our minds, or if we are forced by our situations to consider other options, this can be scary. We could feel as if we are wasting time and money on our educations, only to get nothing out of it. However, from my own experience, this state of uncertainty should not be feared, but welcomed. In fact, this time of uncertainty offers great possibilities that students often do not realize until they have a chance to reflect later on.

This state of uncertainty should not be feared, but welcomed.

I have experienced these doubts myself at certain points in my education. However, I believe this allowed me to seek out far more interesting opportunities and to explore my options in ways that otherwise would not have been possible.

When I first started university, I would have never considered extending my degree by a year to do an internship. It seemed as if everyone around me knew exactly what they wanted to do and were rushing through their education to reach that goal. I thought I should be the same way, until I neared the end of my degree and realized that I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do after I graduated. I also didn’t have very much practical experience to help me make a decision. At this time, I had the chance to stop, look around, and realize that there is much more to be gained than just what can be passively absorbed in classes. Rushing to graduate would mean missing out on these valuable opportunities.

There is much more to be gained than just what can be passively absorbed in classes.

Now, when students come into my office and explain that they are forced by their circumstances to change their plans or reconsider their options, I will try my best to comfort them by sharing what I have learned. I try to show them that they can still pursue the same goals if they want to, but it will just require that they take a slightly more roundabout path than they had originally planned. This new path will allow them the chance to question their choices and make sure they are pursuing the right goals for the right reasons, and they will ultimately find themselves better off for this. They are rarely able to accept this right away since it is not part of their safe and comfortable plan, but hopefully it has some impact on them after it sinks in.

If anyone reading this is currently experiencing uncertainty about their future, please know there is a certain freedom in this. And since you will have plenty of time to build a career and a life after you find direction, you should make the most of this time to take chances and make mistakes while you still can.


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About Joshua Hillaby

Joshua Hillaby

Josh Hillaby is a fourth-year Arts student majoring in English. He is currently extending his degree and helping his fellow students by interning at the University’s Office of the Student Ombuds through the Arts Work Experience Program (AWE).