Editorial: Being an undergrad is a license to make mistakes

Filing my graduation application was a nightmare, and it was entirely my fault. I was in an honours program until I realized, last year, that I didn’t have the grades or desire to continue, and thought it best to enrol in a regular BA program. I had to submit a form to drop the classes I was in as part of the honours program, then re-enrol in those same classes under a regular BA.

I thought I had done everything right until I noticed, the day applications were due, that my degree program on BearTracks said that
I was still in the honours program. And I didn’t have the required courses to complete an honours program. And I’m 24 and should graduate already.

I went to the Arts undergrad office, and they told me I had to get the signatures of four different faculty higher-ups. It was a heart-pounding afternoon. I scrambled across campus, was told the Associate Dean of Native Studies couldn’t see me for a week, then ran into her in the hallway. I got the signatures, and the undergrad office said I was lucky. I’ll graduate this spring.

As the university experience turns to memory, I remember different things in different ways. The good, pleasant things are sort of vague impressions. In drama class we did yoga. Cramdunk and the Eurasian Bistro smelled good. And once I got used to it, scribbling essays in Cameron basement the night before they were due (and the McGriddles in the morning) was actually kind of alright.

I remember the stressful and especially embarrassing things in vivid detail. Running late once before a final, I inadvertently parked in front of someone else’s driveway and ran five blocks to class. After spending the day on campus, I returned to where I thought my car was parked and couldn’t find it after an hour of looking. Turns out my car was impounded, and once down at the lot, I found a big dent in its side. Some angry resident had, most likely, taken a hammer to my car. Another ridiculous moment was once in first year, I said something so obviously and gut-wrenchingly privileged in class that the instructor disregarded the lesson plan for the day and spent the whole class explaining, with evidence, why I was wrong. And of course the thinking of the time was (since the course price, $526.92, divided by 25 classes, equals $21.08) “that was a blown 21 bucks.”

At this point, my campus experience is trying to remember what happened in the past five years. The good times are worth keeping, but more importantly, the mistakes are worth cherishing. At the beginning of it all, I wish someone at orientation or in class or in the beer gardens had told me “this is the time in your life when the stakes are low, so just give ‘em hell.” Actually someone probably did, I just didn’t care enough to heed useful advice.

So there’s no reason to be ashamed of screwing up a grad application, one of the last things you can actually screw up before getting out of here. It’s actually a fitting end to the final months of being a student.

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