Feb. 6, 2003, Gazette
"In an image-bound culture where midriffs
sell cola, everyone wants to portray the right image. Mass media and its
portrayal of the appropriate actions for each stage of life lead people
to believe that they must embody these stereotypes in order to fit in
to societys framework. From when we should have our first kiss to
when we should retire, there is a set age and a list of social norms to
For a university student, the amount of pressure to fit societys
expectations can be overwhelming. There are just 14 weeks in which to
cram material into your brain, material that cannot be taken lightly,
as it may be imperative to your future career. Then there is the pressure
to gain volunteer and work experience to build and round out your resumé,
not to mention the temptation to socialize every night of the week. This
results in a harsh truth that some people thrive during university, while
others shy away.
Everyone has a different philosophy surrounding why theyre on campus.
For some its purely to prepare them for their future job, others
want to learn and see where it takes them while more still are here simply
to find themselves. Some students opt to do one semester a
year, and then work for the rest of the year in plans of avoiding huge
student loans debt upon graduation. Others plow away, doing three semesters
a year and graduate early. The majority of us will take four or five years
to finish our undergraduate degree and will then contemplate graduate
In this three-tier system is there really a right level to occupy? Do
you need to graduate as quickly as possible? Or is university best complemented
with a summer backpacking in Europe and a few internships along the way?
The logical thing would be to strike a balance -- apply for that internship
at Parliament Hill, take a summer semester just to get the feel of working
all year around.
Yet realistically it is a choice which is different for every student.
For those pursuing a career in law or medicine, the mandatory years in
grad school motivate students to complete their program in a timely fashion.
Other programs such as Engineering and Business are fairly rigid and do
not permit students to be casual about their studies. Yet Arts and Science
students have flexibility and this makes the decision that much harder
If youre pursuing an Arts degree, an internship at a national newspaper
or a semester at another university adds an edge to your credentials and
diversifies your skill sets. While science students may find field schools
equally as important to their degree program.
In a world where more and more people are obtaining a post-secondary education,
it is important to gain a workable advantage. Consider all the posters
all over campus; there are opportunities for summer schools, work abroad
programs, research internships and jobs in the public sector. It is such
programs that give todays student an advantage.
If there seems to be nothing around campus posted about your particular
area talk to your professors. Chances are they know of internships and
summer schools that you can apply for to complement your studies.
So take the summer to try out a work project in the Caribbean or to backpack
through the Alps, apply for internships and bursaries in your field of
interest. It is these opportunities that you take advantage of that will
give you the edge to succeed in a turbulent economy.