Saturday, August 13, 2011

An antidote to my previous post!

I am sharing a link that my dear friend Trish sent me yesterday (thanks T!!!).  Her email included a comment that accompanyed the link, that stated,  "Here's an antidote to that lame article in the Globe... :-)"

I must say that I am very impressed with what the University of Western Ontario provides for its mature students.  I wish my university offered such a service, but that is no longer the case (I looked into it already).  There are several very inspirational stories, in (appropriately enough!) the "Inspiration" heading.

In particular, I found the results of a questionnaire they sent out, asking "What would you have wished to have known prior to beginning your university studies?"  The results are below.  The section did not indicate if this was the mature students' first attempt at university, or merely a career change with previous university degree(s) already completed.  A few of the answers seem to indicate that it was the respondents first attempt at university.  Nonetheless, some of the answers are interesting.

In particular, and what I can relate to the most, is the final answer in the list.  "Acknowledged the importance of studying what you are interested in." 

This is something I should have done way back when, but then again, I must admit that I've had an interesting, international career path that has taken me to places I wouldn't have otherwise gone, to UN meetings and conferences in NYC, Geneva and even New Delhi once, and working on huge files (like the Kosovo crisis) and many smaller files that I never dreamed I'd be working on.  In a way, it is a bit of a shame to be leaving all this behind, but that type of career is all-encompassing and is perfect for either a workaholic or single person with no kids.  (On the other hand, I have been granted a 'leave of absence' from my work, so if for some reason my attempt at a career change to nursing doesn't work out, back I go into my established career...  I honestly cannot see that scenario happening, but, especially at my stage in life, it is a huge comfort to know that this 'fall back' plan exists.)

My priorities have changed enormously since I entered the workforce, and honestly, even though my career has been very interesting at times, there remains an emotional disconnect, that has increased over time, that makes me question what real value there is in what I do, spending full days, weekends and even some statutory holidays at work.  Admittedly, the consular cases I worked on were rather interesting and somewhat satisfying, but they still lacked the direct, personal involvement I apparently crave in my job.

I'd so much rather spend my days with people rather than in front of a computer, doing hands-on work where I can see at least some small tangible result of the work I do.  Who knows, I might even get a sincere 'thank you' once in awhile and know that I truly did something helpful.  But I digress...

Back to the list of what mature students wished they'd known before their studies...results are as follows:

What would you have wished to have known prior to beginning your university studies?
During the summer of 2008, we asked mature students to tell us what they would have liked to have known prior to beginning university study. This is a summary of the 124 responses we received with the most mentioned on the top, and the least mentioned on the bottom.

I would have:
  • Sought out more guidance on program/course selection
  • Realized that university takes more time than I expected
  • Developed better reading skills
  • Developed better note taking skills
  • Realized the need for good computer skills
  • Attended workshops on essay writing and research
  • Found out where can I go for help
  • Recognized that I’d need to adapt to university life
  • Better understood the costs
  • Found out if there was a mature student association
  • Understood the teaching style of my Professor
  • Looked into daycare
  • Found out about scholarships and bursaries
  • Researched options for buying books
  • Looked into parking arrangements and costs
  • Found out about financial assistance such as the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)
  • Learned that courses are marked differently
  • Taken the Ready for University! modules
  • Learned about how spring/summer courses work
  • Recognized the importance of learning
  • Acknowledged the generation gap among students
  • Researched into the different services available
  • Acknowledged the support available from professors
  • Recognized the importance of balance between home and studies
  • Learned about the importance of having the correct prerequisites for courses
  • Looked up the course registration deadlines
  • Acknowledged the importance of studying what you are interested in
A very good antidote to the 'lame' G&M article indeed!!!

Onwards and upwards.

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