On the 10th of August this year, at approximately 11:20 AM, I graduated.
It took me four and a half years to do it — when it probably should have taken just three — but it’s done, and honestly, I’m kind of glad it’s over.
When people asked me how uni was going, I almost always said “OK”, or “alright”. Never “fantastic”, “great”, or even “good”, but just “fine”, or “not bad”. I told others that I didn’t mind uni, but the truth is that I just liked the uni lifestyle; being able to do basically nothing for weeks on end was pretty great, right up until the point where I hadn’t started an assignment that was due in the next 72 hours.
Back in high school I was pretty adamant I wanted to go to uni after finishing year 12. Others in my grade weren’t so sure: some wanted to do apprenticeships, and others still wanted to do TAFE, or have a gap year before getting back into study. Of course, there were people like me who wanted to go to uni straight after finishing year 12, but those that wanted to jump straight into uni without taking a break were in the minority, I feel.
Looking back at my time at uni, there’s a bunch of stuff I would rather forget. I’m ashamed to admit I failed more than a few classes due to sheer laziness on my part, and repeated multiple classes because I pulled stunts like not going to to the final exam. Mostly when I knew I wasn’t passing internally, but still. I’m keenly aware of the fact that if I was just a little motivated, or procrastinated just a little less, then I might have been able to complete my degree in maybe three and a half years, instead of the four and a half it took me.
It was around the end of my forth year when one particular individual asked me what I was doing at uni and how it was all going. This one time, I didn’t say that it was fine or good, but I said something along the lines of “it’s different to what I expected”, or “I’m not enjoying it as much as I thought I would”. It wasn’t intended to be a negative comment, but it just kind of came out that way. He seemed to sympathise, and said a degree was something that was good to have “under your belt”, so I should soldier on and keep at it.
I must have taken those words to heart, because that’s what I did.
That’s not to say I enjoyed uni immensely from that point on. I contemplated calling it quits a few times. More than a few times, actually. I never actually did (obviously), but there were times when I couldn’t be bothered going through another semester, another unit of whatever content was being offered up. But every time I thought about quitting I was always reminded that I had come this far, why throw it all away now? Quitting was never really an option when I thought about it — it might have been after the first year (at that stage I had no reason to quit), but it definitely wasn’t during the third or fourth years. No, there was nothing to do but grin and bear it.
And what do I have to show for it now? A degree, sure, but also a massive HECS debt. That’s not saying it wasn’t all bad (I would have made a good Arts student, I think), but there were certainly parts which could have gone better. Maybe I was to blame for that: it could easily be argued that by not putting in any effort than the bare minimum, I made things harder for myself. I’d probably agree with that statement.
The real question is: would I have fared any better if I had gotten into something I wanted to do, instead of my second or third choice? Hard to say.
Computing wasn’t my first choice; it was always the fall back option. Something I knew I could get into pretty easily, and something I might actually do reasonably well at. I remember the first time I posted exam results on Facebook, along with the comment of “not bad for all the effort I put in”. From memory it was all high distinctions and distinctions, and someone commented that “being gifted must be such a burden” — I found that amusing later on, when I was looking at exam results that weren’t all that crash-hot, i.e. failures. Needless to say, I stopped posted exam results after a few years.
Going back to the original question: would I have done better if I had gotten into my first choice (not that I didn’t try — twice — mind you)? I wouldn’t say I would have, but I wouldn’t say it was outside the realm of possibility, either. I might have found a great study group and been exceptionally studious, all because it was my first choice was actually something I wanted to do instead of something I did on the side, something I was interested in as a hobby.
At the end of the day, though, what’s done is done. I shrug it off like it ain’t no thang (sic), but I guess having a degree is an achievement, in and of itself.
Now all I have to do is make something of it. Find a job, or something.
Alternatively, I could always go back to uni, maybe even apply for what I wanted to study originally. But like that’s going to happen, right?