First Year, Third Time

What do you want to go to school for? This is a question I know all too well. One that I was asked repeatedly not only during my time in high school, but to my dismay, for the three following years as well.

Many people are probably quite familiar with the stressful decision of choosing a post-secondary path. If you’re anything like me you probably once wanted to be a princess, then singer and then veterinarian! It can be a complex and trying journey to figure out where you want to end up, and unfortunately it usually takes much more than a high school careers class or some online quizzes. In my case, it took three years, dropping out of two universities and a whole lot of anxiety, to finally find a school and program, which is right for me.

University of Ottawa

Fresh out of high school, it was early September and I was about to embark on the great journey, which is first year. At the time, I thought I’d chosen the perfect program, a business degree in french. Business, because it seemed like the most common choice for people who didn’t really know what they wanted to do, and french, because I’d already done French Immersion in school for 12 years so I figured why not keep going. Unfortunately I would soon learn that neither of these reasons was strong enough to keep me in school for more than two weeks.

In week number one, I attended many frosh events, and got used to the city and the campus. All seemed to be going relatively well until week number two (when the school work actually began). It turns out that I’m not so good at core business program courses, like calculus or microeconomics. The entire time that I sat through the first class for each of these courses, I just kept thinking what the hell have I gotten myself into? I couldn’t even tell you the name of the third class I attended that week, because it seems that although I spent 12 years listening to teachers speak to me in french, I was not able to understand a word of “french with a heavy Russian accent”. One week was all it took to realize that this was not the program for me. At this point you’re probably thinking, how could you possibly know that after only one week? I had to take many things into consideration; most importantly my happiness, but also the harsh reality that I couldn’t see myself succeeding in this program. Although it was one of the toughest decisions of my life at that point, I knew that the University of Ottawa was not for me.

Ryerson University

So here I was a year later, at a different university, enrolled in a different program (second time’s the charm?). I decided to take what they called Business Technology Management. It was my understanding that this was similar to your basic business program, but more specifically geared towards the use of computer programs like Adobe Photoshop. Somehow I managed to think that the program, in a way, incorporated aspects of graphic design? Despite all my research that went into choosing the program, man oh man was I wrong. By the end of first semester I had a much more thorough understanding of what Business Technology Management entailed. Unfortunately what it entailed, I had zero interest in. From learning computer coding, to the technological functions of an organization, I was beginning to feel like this was not my calling in life. Due to the fact that I’d already once had the lovely experiencing of being a university dropout, I wasn’t too eager to give up on Ryerson quite yet. I stuck it out for the full first year, and not only was I miserable, but I was also unsuccessful. I passed all of my courses (but not very well), and I didn’t feel like I really grasped any of the material. How could I justify spending another $9000 per year learning about something I didn’t enjoy, nor did I understand. Despite my hope that eventually I would’ve grown to like the program, I knew it was time to say goodbye to Ryerson University.

Humber College

About three years post high school graduation, I honestly didn’t think I’d ever go back to school, and I’d lost all hope in obtaining a post-secondary education. I had tried job shadowing in a different field and I’d talked to so many people about their careers and how they had decided what they wanted to pursue.

When it came time again to apply for programs for the following year, I figured why not apply and see what I get into. After slowly learning what I did and did not like about the other two programs, I was able to narrow it down to a couple of options. One of which was the bachelor of public relations program at Humber College, which a friend who is currently in her third year had suggested to me. I went ahead with the application and I received my admission in the spring.

At this point in my life, going back to school seemed to be a bit risky for me, but I reminded myself of my goals in life and what I’d always hoped to achieve, so I decided that the risk was worth it.

I began the bachelor of public relations program this fall, and Hallelujah. I have finally found something that not only am I interested in, but I’m able to succeed in. I can see myself four years down the line pursuing a career in this field and that’s something I’ve never experienced. It took attending two other schools to realize that the style of teaching at universities played a huge role in why I was unable to learn what was being taught. This program fits my every need when it comes to my education, which is something I never thought I would find. I’ve only completed two months so far, but I have much faith in the fact that I’ve made the right choice and this id the program for me.


This is a message to all of the high school students out there or anyone who has not yet figured out what to pursue as a career. I understand the stress that you’ll endure trying to figure out what you want to do with your life and sometimes it seems like you’ll never find a program or career path which is right for you, but you should never settle for something that doesn’t give you what you’re looking for. Coming from someone who has now been to three different schools, I know it’s hard. No one wants to drop out of university or spend an abundant amount of money, year after year. But I guarantee that it’s worth it. Follow your gut instincts and through the struggle, you will realize where you’re meant to be.

By Nicole Dunford

Nicole is a student in the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Humber college.


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