Tuesday, 1 October 2013

"So are you like, going to be a student forever?"

   With October finally making it's way here, and 31 for 21 starting, I figured what better time than now to start the blog that's been rushing in my head for what feels like forever.  For those of you who don't know, October is Down syndrome awareness month.  For the last six years, the Down syndrome community has blogged everyday for the month of October to show their support for one another.  The idea of it is to get you writing and to connect with others, not write about Down syndrome everyday.

So where did the idea for this blog come from?  Somewhere between the "you're doing five years of your undergrad?" and "why do you want to go to grad school?" I decided I needed to get my thoughts out about the whole slew of decisions that have come from it one place.  Let me start off by saying one thing: if you had asked me a year ago if I would be going to grad school, I would of told you to stop being an idiot.  Now I'm spending hours a day researching schools and reading the Princeton Review in an attempt to get into schools not only in Canada, but in America as well. 

And now comes the back story:
   I've been an overachiever my entire university career.  I'm not talking the "oh I raise my hand in class" overachiever, I'm talking president, vice president, and student government representative in the same year overachieving.  I made a name for myself.  Albeit, at times not a good name, but a name none the less.  I was known for being "the psychology student" a lot of the time.  I sat on panels for parents, prospective students and guidance counsellors.  I participated in curriculum committees and stated my honest opinions about courses and textbooks.  I ran events and fundraisers and started feuds with other student governments.  I worked an on campus job in some capacity since my second year and lived on campus my entire four years.  I was known. For good and for bad.  But needless to say my identity was strongly tied to Amanda Howlett - undergraduate psychology student at the University of Guelph-Humber.
   So March rolls around, and Easter comes around, and I end up in a meeting with my program head about some upcoming events our psych society was going to do.  He asked the question everyone had been asking me for weeks; "what are you going to do when you graduate?".  My work experience did not scream a career in psychology so I responded with my honest answer I'd been giving everyone of "I'm probably going to become an office secretary or something". He looked at me puzzled and said:

"Why don't you do a fifth year?"
I understand at some universities, this wouldn't be a big deal.  Many students take five years to complete a program.  But when your school has the motto of a "university degree and college diploma in four years" five years doesn't really pop into your mind.  To make a long story short, my program head and me discussed a plan about how I could come back, take courses and up my GPA, write my GREs, and apply to grad school.  I left to go home the Thursday for my long weekend, and by Easter Monday I had cancelled my university graduation.

There's more to the story about how I've come to the point of accepting that I'm "that fifth year student" but I'm sure that'll come later this month.  

But overall, through my months of uncertainty, and my moments where I want to throw in the towel and quit, I feel like this was the best choice of my life.  There's no better investment I could of made then to be working on improving my GPA in an environment that is encouraging and supportive of the grad school process.

So welcome to my journey.  Of being a fifth year undergrad student, a grad school hopeful, a dreamer, a believer, and an overachiever.  


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