“So, what do you want to do with your life?” This is probably the scariest question you will ever be asked or ask yourself. No other question has a greater impact on the choices you will make regarding post-secondary education. However, I’m here to tell you that figuring out what you want to do with your life and what you want to be when you grow up is so much more than a one-sentence answer. It is a journey.
My journey started in high school. Of course, when I was younger I had my dreams about becoming a princess, but I had never seriously thought about what I wanted to do as a career. Then I had my first high school biology class, and fell in love with the subject! This was my starting point. Even though I didn’t know what job I wanted exactly, I knew that I really enjoyed biology and could study it in university.
Then at my school’s university fair, I heard a representative from Mount Saint Vincent University give a talk about the Science Communications Program. She described it as a unique degree that prepared you for a career working with scientific information, not just in a lab but with people; bridging the gap between scientists and the public. This sounded like a program that was literally made for me! I decided that if I got into MSVU, I would try the Bachelor of Science Communications, and if I didn’t, I would stick with a Bachelor of Science at a different school.
Before I could make that decision, I had a lot of preparation to do. At the beginning of my last year in high school, I spent a lot of my time researching the universities I wanted to apply to, and filling out scholarship applications. I look back and that semester is just a blur of forms, transcripts and deadlines! I also worked extra-hard in my courses that year, seeing as those marks would affect my acceptance into schools and my eligibility for scholarships.
If I were to do anything differently, it would be to pay more attention to application deadlines and do a better job of managing my time. There is nothing more stressful than finding out you have to hand in your application that day when you’ve only half-finished it! Some scholarships also ask you for letters from your teachers, or mentors, or even past employers. My advice would be to check for those things and ask for those letters as soon as you can. This will hopefully save some stress all around.
Fast-forward to next fall and one of the largest steps in my journey- actually starting university. I had been accepted into MSVU and I was going to give Science Communications a shot. I had few expectations going into it other than expecting the workload to be more challenging, which it was. I can’t say I enjoyed the challenges while going through them, but I certainly enjoyed overcoming them. I really liked my courses for the most part as well. Even in university there are courses you’ll be required to take, but not required to enjoy. I liked the small class sizes at the Mount too. I went to a small high school, so it made the transition easier class-wise.
There’s an independence that’s expected of you in university, and it’s a good thing because it forces you to grow and take more responsibility for yourself. This means you have to actively seek out all the information you can to keep on top of things like deadlines, required readings, and class rooms (sometimes those will get switched up at the beginning of term.) I didn’t know to expect all that, which resulted in a lot of learning by trial-and-error.
Now I’m in the final term of my second year at the Mount and I’m very happy with what I’ve chosen to study. I wouldn’t have expected to find a degree that combined two of my passions, so I’m very thankful that it found me! As far as the future goes, I’m hoping to finish my bachelor’s degree then either start working in my field or continue on in school to do my Master’s. My journey towards figuring out what I want to do with my life is far from complete, so I’m trying to find the balance between having a plan and remaining open to any opportunities that may come my way.
Meaghan Bartlett, Catapult 2011