Skip to main content
SFU Student Undergraduate
Arts + Social Sciences › English, Education › Counseling + Human Development

An illustration of a bunny with text all around them, representing different life paths such as trade school, uni or college, and travel.
"You should start where you are." ― Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being

How did you decide to go to SFU?

I attended the sessions presented by the different universities and visited the campuses for their information sessions. In high school, I joined a summer film camp at the SFU downtown campus, where I was mentored by other SFU Film students. Because my experiences with the camp, that’s how I became interested in attending SFU.

What has your journey been like in university?

I started in the Art, Performance & Cinema Studies program at SFU’s School for Contemporary Arts. I learned in my first year that fine arts weren’t for me, so I took time off from school to work. During that year off, I was diagnosed with mental and chronic illnesses, which presented me with a new set of challenges. I came back to school part-time as a World Literature major. This program felt like it was a step in the right direction. Since then, I’ve transitioned over to the English program and taken on a minor in Counselling & Human Development.

What does an average week look like for you?

Since I take 1 to 2 courses per semester, I have a more flexible schedule. I’m then able to control my schedule so that I have more time to rest and take care of myself. I work, volunteer, and attend meetings for student groups and clubs. I’ve had a great time as part of the Disability and Neurodiversity Alliance.

Why should people consider university?

University isn’t for everyone, and there’s no shame in not wanting to pursue it. However, if you’re interested in attending university, you owe it to yourself to try. Attending university has introduced me to like-minded and diverse groups of people. It teaches you about yourself, about employment and volunteer options, and about your community.

How can I deal with feelings of uncertainty and being overwhelmed?

Remember your journey is just as valid as anyone else’s, no matter where you go or how long it takes. Sometimes it’s easier to figure out what doesn’t work for you before discovering where your interests lie. Try breaking down your large intimidating goals into a series of smaller, manageable checklists. Go as small as you need and take things day by day.

What if I’m not ‘smart’ enough for university?

Some of the most intelligent and insightful people I’ve met were the ones who didn’t follow a ‘conventional’ path. Universities have academic advisingprogramspeer tutors, and academic writing resources and services to help you achieve academic success. Failure can mean you have to re-evaluate your path and start again, but it never means your life is over. It’s also important to remember that there are multiple types of intelligence and all of them are important.

Postsecondary isn’t accessible for me -- what should I do?

You and your perspectives are valued and need to be heard. Admissions advisors and recruitment coordinators are valuable resources. Universities have a variety of financial aid and resources to help you thrive, such as Health & Counselling Servicesthe Centre for Accessible Learning, and BIPOC-specific supports and healing spaces.

What has been the biggest lesson from your post secondary experience?

Don’t let the stress of your plans consume you - they rarely work out (at least not in the way you expect). There’s no single/correct way to be a student, or a person for that matter.

What do you wish you had known before starting university?

The importance of prioritizing my wellbeing and avoiding comparison. Before getting diagnosed, I burnt myself out trying to keep up with able-bodied folks around me. Productivity culture is a major influence for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be a specific way. Your worth as a person is a complex and nuanced entity that cannot be dictated by any single trait such as your GPA or performance. Focus on enriching your life and learn from your mistakes.

Any last thoughts?

A useful tool has been my book of inspirational quotes that I refer to whenever I’m feeling down (there are a lot by Uncle Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender). Finally, allow yourself to get excited! You get to begin building a life that you love. Go forth and find what makes your heartbeat!

This blog was originally posted on the SFU Surrey-TD Community Engagement Centre website on October 20, 2021.

SFU Student Undergraduate
visibility  72
Oct 20, 2021

You Might Like These... Professional Development, Personal Development, Career Exploration, Life Experience

Marble statue of Socrates
Know Thyself

So you have graduated from university and are hanging your well-earned degree on your bedroom wall, and all of  a sudden, a tiny, yet unavoidable voice in the back of your head is quietly screaming “No time to celebrate, you need to find a job!” or “I’ve got my degree…what do I do with it?!’.

Mike, author
Indigenous Stories: Mike, SFU Alumni

"I have no solid plans for the future and I love it...I know that every experience that I have had, every failed plan, was really an excellent mistake that gave me the skills I need to handle any situation that gets thrown my way in the future."  Read Mike's story of career exploration, and how to handle constant change.

picture of glichelle pondering a though
Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.


You Might Like These... Community Engagement

Group of people with balloons in the sky
Accelerating Your Career Through Community Involvement

It may only be the start of the semester, but you’re probably already piled with work. However, there’s no better time to get involved within your community than now, especially with so many volunteer opportunities around with the new year. Find out how being involved can jumpstart your career.

coins spilled out of jar
Black Friday & Value(s)

Today is Black Friday - the frenzied "first day" of holiday shopping following Thanksgiving day in the States. So naturally, value is on a lot of people's minds, as stores are now known to drop prices so low that shoppers have literally killed each other in an effort to save money. But it's another kind of value that motivated this article.

Adam smiling with a fish in hand: picture on the right is of an inukshuk
Challenges and Benefits of an Out-of-town Co-op

Adam Keizer, an Environmental Science major, was one of the nominees for the 2006 SFU Co-op Student of the year.  In the following article, Adam provides a personal account of his experience on a Co-op term in the rocky tundra of the far north, housed in a camp with only thirty other people.