In your third year, you don’t know that you know…

This is something I once heard (in Chinese):

In your first year of university, you don’t know that you don’t know.
In your second year, you know that you don’t know.
In your third year, you don’t know that you know.
In your fourth year, you know that you know.

And that, my friends, would describe my university education perfectly.

Just entering university from high school, I was pretty confident in my abilities—and while I did well overall, I found out quite a few things about myself and how I envision my learning environment that I had to work hard to create.

In my second year, I’d managed to get into third-year English Honours, so I was pretty excited about embarking on a two-year journey of lotsandlotsandlots! of English. Knowing perfectly well that I didn’t really know much about anything, it was incredibly enjoyable to just launch myself into my learning. Over the last couple of years, I’ve taken at least one course in each century of English (which is how the courses are loosely divided) and then some. That’s a pretty great overview, if you ask me.

“In your third year, you don’t know that you know.”

I’m really hoping this above statement is true because, since I don’t know what I know, I generally feel like I still don’t know very much about anything at all. (And this statement will probably continue to be true for years to come, when faced with the great sea of knowledge.)

Which is very frustrating when your friends are graduating around you left, right and centre, and you still can’t clearly articulate what exactly it is you want to do with your life this summer.

The main problem being that there are many things I ought to do this summer in preparation for applying to graduate school and to explore possible careers, such as:

  • study for my long-distance ed course which began last September and will finally finish in August;
  • possibly take a few extra courses for interest’s sake and/or to add a Minor to my degree;
  • do research in preparation for my thesis next year;
  • study in preparation for the GRE which I ought to take at the end of summer too;
  • do extra readings to fill in the gaps in my brain (no matter how many classes I take, it seems there will always be some of those…);
  • research graduate schools and programs around the world;
  • consider and decide what it is exactly that I want to study in grad school;
  • possibly apply to direct a seminar next year;
  • in which case will need to research and prepare for that;
  • learn to drive;
  • maybe visit my parents for a month, and also stock up on materials for my research while I’m in Hong Kong;
  • find some kind of publishing internship;
  • and/or work full- or part-time to fund all these activities.

And these activities do not count the things I want to do for fun, like:

  • go exploring;
  • write;
  • do some art;
  • play my piano;
  • travel someplace new;
  • and hang out with friends before they leave Vancouver forever.

My one bit of advice? If you’re thinking of grad school, consider doing the GRE at the end of your second year. Depending on your program and how ready you are for it, it may take a lot off your plate in your third year—and at least it will allow you a chance to retake it if you need to, without any rush.

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