For this exercise, I wanted to learn more about how to succeed at university from a person who had already been through the experience and graduated.
This topic is important to me, as having only recently finished high school; I find it difficult to study at the university level. Indeed, I find university life to be far different from my experience in high school, as it focuses on preparing students for independence and their future professional lives. For example, as reported in an article by Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post, George Washington University Provost, Steven Lerman says you "have to take a greater degree of controlYou need to become more proactive than you have been" (Johnson, 2011).
For this interview, I have chosen a graduate of McGill University, who finished her undergraduate work with limited difficulty. Cynthia came to Canada from China eight years ago as a student. At first, she was not able to attend her top choice for university studies, McGill University. Instead, she spent her first two years at Ottawa University. After proving herself in Ottawa, she was given the chance to fulfill her dream and transferred to McGill. Despite the challenges of her undergraduate courses, she was able to succeed at McGill and graduate.
Preparing for the interview, I thought about many questions that I wanted to ask her about university life and about how she managed to graduate despite the challenges of study and course work. Having prepared all of the questions about university subjects and mastering the challenging university environment, I approached Cynthia and found out a different perspective on university life. Because I find university to be challenging and overwhelming, it was encouraging to find out from Cynthia that her experiences were significantly different from what I was anticipating. My assumption was that the majority of students would find it difficult to adapt—in particular during their first year. The formidable amount of information to absorb from course work and the newness of the university environment appeared too much for me to handle. Cynthia proved me wrong when she explained her success in not only mastering university and her studies, but also how well the experience prepared her for her subsequent professional life. I discovered that the university life is not as hard as I imagined it would be. It depends on the person and his ability to keep up. The main thing a student needs to do right from the start is to adapt his habits from those developed in high school, because he is now more responsible for his own success and thus must learn to succeed independently. The second most important thing I learned from my interview with Cynthia is that the person has to choose what he wants from the beginning and work single mindedly to achieve that goal. For example, before one begins their studies, they must carefully research and select to which universities applications are sent. More important than reputation, not only must the entering student be qualified to meet entry requirements to the selected universities, these institutions must be suited to meet the student's goals.
This interview also made me understand that whatever I want to do in this life is possible, as long as I never give up. Even when things look bad and life appears to be going against me, I should keep trying until I get what I want.
The experience of interviewing a person who had successfully graduated from university was exciting. Although it was hard to keep up with Cynthia at times, I am happy because it was the first time for me to interview a person on a topic of my choosing and it provided me with useful information on succeeding at university.
In the end, thanks to Cynthia, I learned many things from this interview and I discovered much that opened my eyes to some previously hidden and important facts about the university life.
Johnson, J. (2011, August 4). Washington Post Lifestyle [Tips for surviving your first year in college]. Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/tips-for-surviving-your-first-year-in-college/2011/07/11/giqa1zejui_story.html