I’ve lived in Calgary my entire life. I always looked up to my dad career-wise, and he instilled in me a passion for electronics. I felt sure that I’d end up going to SAIT just like him. I would end up at SAIT eventually, but my path there was wildly different than how I envisioned it.
I was an average student in French immersion until the end of grade 8. I enjoyed the idea of learning a different language, but never applied myself and struggled as a result. In the ninth grade I switched to English, and I made the Honour Roll.
While I’ve always loved sports, the outdoors, hanging out with friends or gaming and listening to some tunes. You might say I was a little nerdy, but I had a blast in high school and managed to keep my grades up to par, I found a new passion in biology and physics.
Cue graduation, but I wasn’t sure what to do with my interest in the sciences. I decided I might as well go back to school. The only problem was that I hadn’t done any research, so I fell back on my childhood plan (be like dad). I enrolled in SAIT’s Electronics Engineering Technology program. It was very math intensive. I could do the work, but I didn’t love it. I left after 4 months.
I re-evaluated my life and decided I wanted to study biology, but I didn’t take high school Chemistry, so I needed to upgrade. I spent 4 months at Chinook Learning Services doing Chemistry 20 and 30. Then, I applied to the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. It took me some time but 2 years after graduating high school I was finally enrolled in the Bachelor of Health Science degree at Mount Royal.
I finished my degree then headed to SAIT for Medical Laboratory Technology. I hope that I can soon begin a career I will love. High school was a good time, but university was by far one of the greatest times of my life. Who knows what the future holds, but hopefully it has something to do with a lab!
Alberta ran this peer-developed program from 2007 until 2019. Ambassadors blogged and visited classrooms to inspire students to plan their post-secondary journey. These ambassadors are now in the workforce but their stories can still inspire continuous education.
Building your network start with your teachers
Building positive relationships with your teachers in high school can be the start of your network. I’m not saying you must be best friends, but if you’re on good terms with your teachers they can let you know about opportunities, supporting your future. You can build these positive relationships by being a good student, sharing your interests and goals. Teachers can offer for guidance, advice, support, and references when you need it. This is how you begin to build your network, the web of personal connections that might point you towards a job, scholarship, or open other opportunities. Networks support your learning and career advancement, start early.
Networking is a huge part of your post secondary experience and will be an important factor when you get out into the working world. While you’re a post-secondary student, your instructors may be able to offer you jobs as research assistants or summer student positions, so you can make some extra cash and gain work experience in your field.
If you’re working on your bachelor’s degree at a university, your favourite professor might be willing to take you on as a graduate student after you finish your bachelor’s degree to start working on your master’s degree.
Additionally, instructors might be able to snag you an interview or hook you up with a job opportunity after you graduate by putting in a good word for you with industry associates or writing you a glowing reference letter.
Building positive relationships with your instructors can also help you in ways you might not expect. For example, my lab instructor for Organic Chemistry at Mount Royal University moved to teach at SAIT, so when I applied to study at SAIT, he was able to put in a good word for me and I got into my program of choice.
It’s often debated whether it’s better to be smart or lucky. I’d say the answer is a bit of both, but I find that the harder I work and the more people I reach out to, the smarter and luckier I get.
You need to be self-motivated in post-secondary no one checks if you are attending classes or doing your homework, but if you’re interested in what you’re studying you will want to do the work. Choose a program that engages your attention and challenges you. Don’t waste your time studying something you don’t care about, take the time to reflect on your interests, skills, and ambitions, and do some research to figure out which programs are best suited to you.
Remember that school costs money, you’re paying to be there, that should be enough to motivate you to go to class. There are all kinds of ways to help pay for school (scholarships, loans, grants, etc.) but if you don’t attend class, you’re wasting your time and money.
Maturity means taking ownership and caring about your education and your schoolwork (especially when it comes to group work, others are counting on you!). Your instructors and your classmates assume that you want to be there and that you want to learn. You need to work on becoming an independent person and a successful post-secondary student, enjoy your journey.
Joining a club is a great way to make new friends in post-secondary. Some clubs are related to academics, like the Society of Biological and Chemical Studies (at Mount Royal University). But many make a point to be non-academic to take a break from studying. There are all sorts of clubs you can join: games, sports, dance, almost every program has their own club too and often you don’t even need to be enrolled in the program to join. Clubs can also increase your motivation; you can meet like-minded people who share your interests and to broaden your post-secondary experience. It’s nice to have other people to do homework with, share books, or just a familiar face to sit with in a class. I hope to maintain my club friendships for life.
Another part of student life is exam stress. In junior high and high school unit exams test your knowledge about 4 or 5 times a year, but in post-secondary there are more assignments and fewer tests. Usually, the fewer tests you write, the more they’re worth for your final grade. Midterm or final exams can be a large percentage of your final mark, so they can be stressful.
Know your midterm schedule so you can get enough quality study time in to reduce your stress. Plan for study time, midterms are scheduled after Reading Week and the midterm blues can set in. For the past three years or so, I’ve always made a point to do something fun, attend a game or take a trip. You can usually find a weekend or 2 to get away between the start of term and midterm madness to recharge.
Learn from other ambassadors or watch these videos:
Alberta Learning Information System (ALIS) resources:
Also visit your learning path to post-secondary.
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