Your experiences in university

From the NY Times on student perception versus student reality in universities:

LIKE most large universities, the University of Arizona is a virtual city: 37,000 students and nearly 14,000 employees on a sprawling campus in Tucson of 174 buildings and 11,000 parking spots. Also like most of the country’s colleges and universities, it is not particularly selective. Arizona admits 83 percent of its applicants, although most graduated in the top half of their high school class. They sit in numbing lecture halls with 500 classmates; the only instructor they may know is a teaching assistant, and they are, for all intents and purposes, anonymous.

This is not exactly the popular image of ivy-covered higher education, but it’s the truth of it. Most students do not go to an Amherst or a Williams. They go to enormous public institutions like the Universities of Arizona, Iowa, Connecticut, Minnesota: more than five million undergraduates attend an institution with at least 15,000 students. The freshman class alone exceeds the population of a small town, and the course catalog is the size of a phone book. Mike Morefield, a junior at Arizona, remembers his first year: “It’s like somebody comes along with a pin right after high school, pops your bubble, picks you up, throws you naked into some college, and you’ve got to figure it out.”

Even though a university opens the door [by offering extensive advising and counselling], it can’t make an adolescent walk through it. However lost they may be, college students may never seek out an adviser. Intimidated, shy or alienated, they don’t drop in during faculty office hours. Parents out of sight, they struggle with their newfound independence, starting with the freedom not to wake up before midday or to eat pizza any hour of the night – and again for breakfast – or to put off reading assignments until cram time at finals.

McGill University isn’t as anonymous as large state universities. However, it can be very intimidating. So what have been your experiences in university? More important, what are your successful coping skills?

2 Responses to “Your experiences in university”

  1. Hannah says:

    I had a different experience with university. My mom passed away last year, and an advisor at McGill suggested
    I drop out of McGill and re-apply later. She said my marks would drop. I told her that I wanted to stay in university
    and that’s probably what my mom wanted me to do as well. Funny, my marks didn’t go down, they’ve gone up, and as
    for the work load, it’s stressful at times trying to juggle everything at once but I try to take one thing at a time,
    and make time for other things, like exercise, etc. The very first semester I think is difficult for everyone out of
    highschool, and it’s frightening to see how much your marks drop. But then you learn how to organize your time
    and how to study, and you learn to take more initiative (like finding an advisor). But I have to say, the advisors
    aren’t always good, so then you have to learn to make your own decisions which can be difficult too…but it is all
    part of growing up.

  2. jennifer says:

    Hannah, I am really so sorry about your mom. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to go through that.

    For me, the hardest part about university here at McGill was suffering through classes taught by professors who seem not to care the least bit about the quality of their teaching or what their students are learning. I had some great teachers in grade school and I expected the teaching to only get better, not worse, at McGill. To be honest, I haven’t figured any coping mechanisms out. I am still just getting through it all. I’ve learned that university is not everything, and that no matter how hard I try I’ll never become a genius. And so, I try to let the stress of work slide away as often as possible. I got a job and spent more time with my friends this year, exercised more too. I was a much happier person than in past years; my grades haven’t skyrocketed or anything, but oddly enough, they haven’t dropped either.

    My advice: go to a better school (seems ironic to say that about “MCGILL”).