The education system nowadays has a high pressure on people to attend university -> get good grades -> get a good degree -> enabling us to get a great job. I’ve realised that the more people that are attending university are making the actual bit of paper you get to summarise your achievements, well, less valuable to some extent.

I’m not saying that going to university is bad. If you know that what you want to do later in life requires you to enrol in a certain degree to be able to gain the skills that you need. That’s amazing. You do you and continue on your path to what you want to achieve. However lots of people sadly, and understandably, go to university because they don’t know what the want to do at that stage in life. Some find their calling once they’re there, but others I’ve seen in my own university sometimes feel that they’re not getting anything out of their degree. Sadly they thought it was “the only route to take”.

More often than not know, it’s the people you meet and the connections you make along the way that help differentiate yourself from the crowd. Getting that much-needed experience, to then gain more experience cycle that we all know and love.  Whatever is on your bit of paper that you think defines you as a person. It doesn’t. You personal qualities and experiences in life and in work are what define you as a person. When you’re setting across from a less-scary-than-you-think potential employer of somewhere you’ve really wanted to work. Just do you. Don’t think about the paper, think about what you want to say honestly, that portrays you for who you are.

It’s now nearing the end of the exam season, and people are beginning the feel that relief of the hours (well hopefully) of hard work they’ve put into studying or to craft what they need to get the grade they want. But I’ll tell you this now, as something I’ve only realised over the past week.

One exam does not dictate what you do in the world. 

I understand people want to do well academically, to further their goals. But if on the day it doesn’t go as planned and you think your life is over. Make a new plan. Failing in one thing can lead to success in another where you learn more from your failures than your success. I’m not saying failing an exam is something you want, but sometimes when the hand you’re dealt on the day isn’t what you thought, maybe the nerves sink in, maybe you didn’t revise something that was on the exam and was a big part. Don’t let it phase you. Don’t dwell on it, as there is nothing you can do about it now – the best thing to do would be to learn from it.

People in Canada are all about the grade point average (GPA), I’ve never seen people obsess about getting that 4.0 GPA than when I was here in Toronto. People thrive to get it because they think it’s an automatic switch that will give them the exact career they want instantly after getting it. I can tell you now it doesn’t. I would rather get a worse GPA and gained experience that I would cherish for life than study all day, every day, to get a 4.0. There is much more to life than that. So much more.

For example, one thing that I had set from the beginning of university when I started was “I want to get a 1st, no matter what”, this is because I thought that only the best of people get 1sts. To some extent you could consider this to be true. But now I feel that this is how I picture my degree. I’m (currently) on track to get a 1st, but if I gained vital experience in the summers between years that propelled me into a possible career that I might not have even thought about and didn’t get a 1st, I would be perfectly happy with that. No, not just happy, ecstatic. If you get too caught up in the study and the grinding (where there ain’t nothing wrong with a little bit of) people sometimes lose track of what they really want to get out of life, and how to get where they want to go.

Next time you get a ‘bad grade’ or you didn’t do as well in an assignment as you wanted, keep in mind that that one thing isn’t going to define you for the rest of your life. Ever.