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Blink and It’s Over: Reminiscing on My University Education

Just like that, the end of my undergrad is in sight. Before I reflect on the range of emotions, thoughts and anxieties I feel, I should acknowledge the position of privilege I am in to have even had the opportunity to get a post-secondary education. 

Looking briefly at the history of women’s education in Canada, it was only 140 years ago that universities opened their doors to women (1880). To put this into perspective, it’s likely that most of our great-great-grandparents would have been born around this time. I lived to meet two of my great-grandparents; I only recently realized it would have been their parents who experienced this historic landmark of women’s education in Canada. It may feel like ages since women gained access to post-secondary education, but it really wasn’t that long ago. 

In 1990, 9 years before I was born, one quarter of women didn’t possess a high school diploma, and only 14% of Canadian women had a university degree. Two decades later, in 2009, the percentage of women aged 25-34 with a bachelor or post graduate university degree (34%) surpassed the percentage of men (28%). Since then, the proportion of women in post-secondary education has only increased. I hold these statistics close to my heart as I reminisce on my opportunity to attain a post-secondary education with appreciation and gratitude. 

That doesn’t mean I’m not still anxious about graduating in three months, though. 

As I leave my undergraduate degree and take on the next chapter, I’m nervous about what’s to come. After lots of thought, I think I’ve narrowed down why. It’s the fact that I won’t have my high school guidance counsellors holding my hand along the way, reminding me of application deadlines, encouraging me to take career aptitude tests and hinting in not-so-subtle ways that I should think about my future. 

I’m about to be in a similar situation as I was four years ago when I was graduating high school but now I don’t have anyone telling me what to do next except for my own mind… I’m finally starting to realize that I am going to miss being a student. I know I still have mountains more to learn about life, savings accounts, how to perfectly cook rice, whatever a mortgage is and so on, but I have reached the end of my formal education. And honestly, that’s kind of scary. 

While I was listening to my Gender Studies audio lecture today, I was genuinely overcome by emotion, taking in my Professor’s knowledge and perspective about white supremacy, systems of domination, politics of kindness, and more. It’s a bittersweet moment, listening to a lecture and knowing that – if you choose to “be done school” – this could be the last time you’ll ever take a course like this. Reflecting on these last few years, a quote from rupi kaur sticks with me: “what is the greatest lesson a woman should learn? – that since day one she had everything she needs within herself, it’s the world that convinced her she did not”. 

Here is my biggest take-away for students like me about to graduate, students just starting their university career, or anyone who misses being a student.

Use the appreciation you have for learning to motivate you to keep up with your education. Push yourself to learn about new perspectives, hobbies, histories, cultures, recipes – whatever it may be. Watch TedTalks on topics you’re interested in or borrow books from the library about the history of your favourite sports. Listen to stories from the people around you and widen your knowledge. The resources are endless and available to use even when you’re no longer a formal student – the only difference is that, now, it’s up to you to find the time. 

Recognizing my anxiety over the current decision on my plate to enroll in more school or move on to the next chapter came to a full circle when I remembered what education meant to me when I was younger. If I could tell my younger self anything, as she complained to her parents about 6th grade French or Math homework asking why she needed to know this “stuff”, I’d tell her that I’m hesitant to leave my university years and all the studying behind, and that she shouldn’t let her education go by too fast. 

Sources: Women & Education 

Stephanie is in her fourth and final year of studying Communication & Sociology. You'll most likely find her drinking a London Fog while playing Sudoku, watching "Little Women"(2019) or taking pictures of her 2 cats...
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