School · Stress · Student

Program Uncertainty

Being a first year student can bring lots of stress and uncertainty as you adapt to your new life at university. Everything is different and new to you. New people, new classes, new professors, new ways of learning. It’s hard at first to take everything in, trying to adapt to the new and exciting life that university has to offer. First semester begins and the school work can add up quickly as you try to juggle friends, sports, clubs, activities, family and any other functions.

My first year of university I was in health sciences. I thought that this would be the right program for me as I am very into sports and being active, so my original plan was to become a physio therapist. My first week of classes was quite easy as it was review from high school and I figured that I would actually do pretty decent in my classes. However the third week of school was quite a shock to me. Suddenly I couldn’t keep up in classes and was so unsure of the concepts being taught. I tried so hard in class to focus and take notes but it didn’t seem to help. I dreaded going to class and hated the material that was being taught. However, I figured it was just because I was a first year student and wasn’t used to the work load that university has to bring along with the content. I toughed through it and continued to hate school. Midterm season came around and I did everything I could to try and grasp the tricky concepts that were taught. I went to PASS sessions, office hours for the profs, got a tutor and spent a lot of my time studying and doing homework. I wouldn’t sleep much as I stayed up studying every night and wouldn’t be able to sleep because I was so nervous for midterms. I was the most stressed I have ever been in my life. After I did everything possible to understand and prepare for midterms, the week of midterms began. I wrote 5 midterms and felt confident coming out of them. However, once I received my marks I was so devastated. I failed 3 midterms and barley passed the other 2. I wasn’t as devastated about the marks but at the fact that I spent so much time working towards something that was not working for me and that I hated. No matter how hard I studied and went to additional help, I couldn’t understand what I was learning. I hated every class and hated being there. I decided it was time to call my parents and have a conversation about changing programs.

I originally was looking at school for business when I was in grade 12 as I was always good at it and enjoyed it. However I was unsure of what I wanted to do when I applied to university in grade 12 as most people are, so I applied to a variety of programs. Even though I was best in business and enjoyed it, I figured that the health sciences route was the way I wanted to go. Looking back now I wish I would have stuck to my gut and went the business route, but everything is a learning experience. So when I called my parents just after my first set of midterms I told them how much I hated the classes I was in, was doing terrible and was not interested in the subjects at all. I could not see myself in that program for the next four years. I told them how stressed I was because I was doing so bad academically in school and felt stupid for not understanding how to do anything that was being taught. I didn’t want to say anything at first about my stress and how upset I was because I assumed most first year students felt the same and it was just because of the adjustment. As soon as I told them though I felt so much better and was glad that they offered me help.

I knew that health sciences was not the best option for me and wanted to change programs. I was embarrassed to tell people that I wanted to change programs because I felt like it made me sound stupid and insecure. I didn’t want people to think that I changed programs because I wasn’t smart enough to be in the program or think that I failed out. I hated the program, the classes, and could never understand the concepts. It was definitely something that I could not spend the next four years studying so I knew that I was making the right choice. I ended up dropping two classes and kept the three that would transfer over to my new program. Come January I started in business and it was so much better for me. I loved the classes, understood the concepts and just really enjoyed what I was learning. It’s not that business is easier than health sciences, it’s just different and something that I enjoy way more. I am so thankful that I switched programs when I did and didn’t try to stick with it in a program I hated.

The moral of the story is, lots of people go to school and decide that the program they are in is not the right choice for them. It is nothing to be embarrassed or insecure about. If you’re not in a program that you enjoy and cannot see yourself in it in the future, then switching programs could be in your best interest. There are so many different career choices and programs to go into so it’s hard to know which you would like best. Sometimes once you get into the program you realize that it isn’t right you and need to change, that’s okay! It’s better to change programs than to be in one that you hate and that causes you a lot of stress. Looking back at my experience now, I realize how glad I am that I changed programs, as I am much happier and like my program so much better! Everything is a learning experience however, so don’t regret switching programs as it shows you which field is not the best for you and which is!

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7 thoughts on “Program Uncertainty

    1. It’s hard to know sometimes what program is best for you and it is very common among students. Maybe talk to the academic advisory and see if there are other options for you. If you look down the road and can’t see yourself in that program for the next four years then look into other options that may interest you more! Typically all your classes will transfer over so that should not be a concern when debating switching!
      Follow your heart!

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  1. I felt the same way! However I went to career services and they were honestly so amazing and helpful! I realized where I wanted to be which ironically was in the program I am in! I believe in you!

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. And I bet there are a lot of other students in your position right now. Either staying in their program because of their parents, for their friends, and/or the fear of feeling or looking stupid. Not everyone can have the courage to make a change after they have felt they have put so much effort/time into something. However, that is when it might be most necessary. And I am so happy that you are actually enjoying your program now as well as learning!

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    1. My folks believe that I’ll make a good engineer. I don’t get math, struggled in high school, but my dad and two brothers are engineers and so will I. Or not, because I feel that I’m already way behind. I want to work with kids not machines

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