The tale of my 8 year tenor at the University of Calgary is somewhat of a unique animal, there was a lot of pain and a great deal of fun. As I look back after just completing that journey I am delighted to be through it and I’m keen to move on in to new areas of life. But I also know that these years were great and I’ll happily reflect upon them as I drift away from this phase.
How it Happened
In short, only with the support and encouragement of others. I certainly had a lot of drive to do both of these myself, but without some key people pushing at key moments, I don’t think I would haven’t taken it as far and I doubt I would have got going when I did either.
I started with Computer Science (feeling lucky to have been admitted at all from High School). I had wanted to apply to Engineering but decided I wouldn’t get in and thus I didn’t even try (by the way, always give things a chance). After LOVING Computer Science, by the end of my third year I found myself in a tough spot, I had done all the core courses, but still had to take a year’s worth of options. Back then I had recently joined the brand new Solar Car team and had been around quite a few Engineering students. This got me thinking that while I still figured I wouldn’t get in to Engineering, I could at least take some of their courses to satisfy my Computer Science requirements.
How it Went
As I took more and more courses I found myself irritated that, for example, “Operating Systems” wasn’t nearly as hardcore as I hoped for. I often expected to emerge from a class with a vastly improved understanding of that subject matter. I often found that not to be the case. Of course there were some serious gems that I loved. I found it hilarious that my grades tended to be worst in “easy” courses and best in “sadistic” ones.
How it ended
After many occasions of considering leaving and wishing it would move faster (while having no interesting in subjecting myself to a lifestyle demanding all my time was sitting in class or doing homework), I eventually settled in to a groove. I found that taking only 3 courses (some times 4) per semester allowed me enough extra time to work a little and do some of my own projects on the side. I needed that variety and that coupled with progressively thoughtful organization led to my ending the program sane, happy even with a GPA over a full grade point above my average of my earlier years.
If I could go back
If I could go back I don’t know if I’d do it again, I think I would. Definitely the Computer Science.. But overall, it all was a ton of work, but a ton of fun and a ton of learning. Eight years is probably going to amount to around 9% of my life span, which is a lot, but in the end I had a pretty awesome time and of course did more than just school in that time. My parents had told me NOT to enter university right out of high school and I think that was sage advice, but I think I lucked out in that I probably would have taken the same stuff eventually anyway.
…. So…. Now for a masters? I think so, but for now, I’m going to worry about paying off a mortgage first. 🙂