I’ve just started my last semester of university here at UBC.
Well, not exactly. I still have a whole year to go before I graduate in May of 2017, but because of my scheduling, I’m finishing up all my required courses to graduate this term. So in that sense, I’m finishing my last semester of taking actual academic-based classes (except for the ones that I’m required to take in fourth year and only in fourth year), and it’s a bit crazy to think about. It seems like just yesterday that I was moving into Place Vanier, meeting all new friends in residence and at the school of music, that I was going to rehearsals for the first time, and especially that I was getting lost on the buses in Vancouver. I don’t want to write about everything that has changed in my life since then – there’s already a post I wrote about that. Instead, I just wanted to reflect on how it feels to be finishing up my university career.
It feels good.
I love being in school. I love learning, and I love being able to grow intellectually and as a scholar. In that sense, I have truly enjoyed my time at UBC. I’ve loved almost all of my classes, and I rarely feel like I finish a course without learning exponential amounts of data. But you know what? I’m ready to be done. I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things, to stop paying ridiculous amounts of rent in Vancouver, and to pursue other interests than music. God knows that UBC has made it hard to do so. This is because so much of my experience here has been sullied by the insane bureaucratic procedures in the school of music. For years, I have consistently been told that my wants and needs as a student are irrelevant, and that some specific professors only care about the needs of the music school as opposed to the needs of the individual students. I was constantly not accepted into my desired major because of the subjectivity of composition – that was unpleasant, but understandable. But when I tried to pursue music technology as an interest, it became a problem. Due to course scheduling conflicts, I couldn’t take laptop orchestra (which was required for my minor) because I was placed in an ensemble that rehearsed at the same time; even though playing in the ensemble was below my level of expertise and I was not learning, I couldn’t switch out because a certain professor cared more about his ensemble than my needs. Let me make this very clear – I was not pursuing music technology as a hobby. It was what I wanted to study in graduate school, and what I wanted to make a career with. Instead, I was kicked out of a course that I worked my ass off to get into, and I lost out on a trip to England with the orchestra, all because there was a course scheduling conflict that could have been sorted out with any bit of compromise.
You can say that I’m a little disheartened by that.
There is no moral of the story here. I just wanted to tell it in the hopes that someone will read it and understand that not everything in university will go your way. It doesn’t matter if you have crazy high marks and a burning desire to become someone better than you were before you started. More and more now, universities exist solely to make money off the students that they’re supposed to be teaching. Individual professors are usually less like this, and much more devoted to education, but my point still stands. And if universities get to the point where they discourage students to pursue any of their dreams because of the bureaucratic bullshit, then why go to them at all?
Myself? Because I love to learn, and I have faith in people, so even when I’m constantly disappointed, I always expect that it will get better.
I’m not writing this to put down UBC. Far from it. There are problems like this in universities and colleges all around the world, and they most definitely are not exclusive to UBC. I do think that this is a problem that should be addressed though. An older adult in my life, after I told them this story, said
“UBC works for you. You pay them. Why won’t they allow you to get the education you’re paying for?”
I wish I knew the answer to that question. I’m sure that if I did, I would have had a much better university experience. As it stands, I’m still not completely disheartened. I’m planning on pursuing some type of post-grad degree, although I’m not exactly decided on what it’s going to be. I’ll continue putting my faith in the education system of this country even when it keeps deserting me at every turn. I’ll do my best to keep learning and becoming the person I’ve always wanted to become, and I’ll do that while still remembering the lessons that UBC taught me: dreams and determinations are nothing in the face of bureaucracy, money can’t necessarily buy you the education you want, and years of education will go by in the blink of an eye and you will still have barely anything to show for it.
The motto of the University of British Columbia: “Tuum est”- it is yours. But is it really?