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A Letter to Myself: What I Wish I Knew When I Got Into University

Dear 17-year-old Dahra, 

I know you’re freaking out while applying to universities. I know you have no idea what you’re doing, but you don’t need to be so panicked. Everything will work out, trust me… I am older than you.

I need to tell you something extremely important as you’re applying. I need you to do something for me: trust yourself and your abilities, and believe in yourself. I know that’s super hard for you, but you need to do this because I want you to apply to every program you think you won’t get into and try anyway. See what happens –– you might be surprised!

But, what are you going to do after applying? Here’s would you need to do (don’t argue with me, even though I know you’re going to try): 

First, when you get your acceptance notification on the OUAC website, don’t just look at it on OUAC –– go to each individual university’s website and actually look at the acceptance letter and read it. I cannot stress enough the reading part of your acceptance letter. It’s important, trust me!

Second, when universities send you invitations to virtual open houses and informational events and ask you to join social media accounts for the class of 2025 –– do it. Don’t do what you usually do and procrastinate… go to them. Why? Why would you go if you already got into your dream school? Because you want to make sure the decision you’re making is the right one. You don’t want to start second-guessing it the week before you have to accept and realize you’ve missed all of those “un-important events.” 

Third, don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions, even if the profs seem to find them annoying or odd. I know you like to be liked and enjoy being independent and finding out information on your own, but trust me –– you’ll want to just go out and ask them. Why? Because it’ll take you less time and you won’t get frustrated sifting through the information on the school website you have no idea how to navigate yet. Just ask and don’t be afraid!

Fourth, don’t let others’ opinions play into your decisions. This degree you’re going to get is going to help you further your career and your life –– it’s not your parents’ life, it’s not your extended family’s life, it’s not your friends’ life. This is your life, your future. What this means is that if you want to be a biochemist –– go for it and don’t let anyone stop you! If you want to be a photographer, go for it! If you want to be a journalist, go for it. 

Fifth, and I’m not going to sugarcoat this because I know you don’t like that, your first year is going to be hard. It’s going to be super hard but we’ve gone through way worse and you’ll be okay. Just hold tight and make a good schedule in your calendar and budget your time correctly. You’ll make it. 

Everything is going to be okay!

Love,

Eighteen-year-old Dahra 

Dahra Gillen

Carleton '25

Dahra is a 18-year old freshman at Carleton University majoring in Journalism. She has ten food allergies: dairy, peanuts, tree-nuts, eggs, oats, mustard, kiwi, pineapple, chia and penicillin. She loves anything creative. She loves writing, reading, film and music. She’s a very amateur skateboarder but loves to go out and practice during the summer when she can! Also, probably couldn’t survive without smoothies.
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