–Maria Angelica Cruz. OPENWIDE Volume 16 Issue 1
Four years ago, I was that student. I’m sure you’ve met someone like me before: high-strung, super focused on her future, caffeinated 90% of the time. Getting less than an 80 on anything used to freak me out, and on more than one occasion I would spend hours hitting refresh on OWL because a prof promised to post marks that night. And for what? All for a chance to have the future I thought I wanted.
You see once upon a time I was a frosh with AEO status, hoping to survive two years of FIMS, go onto Ivey, and have the perfect career. I wanted to be a lawyer or an investment banker (freshman year had me convinced that investment banking was cool), but I wasn’t sure. All I knew was Ivey needed to happen for me because if it didn’t I wouldn’t have that perfect career. So I spent two years being a ball of stress because that’s what I thought I needed to do.
And somehow things did work out for me. I ended up going to Ivey, and as of last June, I get to wear the alumni label proudly.
So as a recent graduate, let me take a small moment to impart a little advice to anyone who might be in a similar situation: There is more to life than Ivey.
I’m saying all of this to force you to think. Your entire university experience is what you make of it, and that includes the two years before Ivey. My years at FIMS taught me to think critically and write eloquently. HBA1 forced me to experience life outside my comfort zone (daily contribution and Excel were difficult adjustments). HBA2 reminded me of how much I can accomplish when I focus on things I’m passionate about (corporate communications, marketing, and business strategy).
Ivey was the right decision for me, and given the opportunity, I would never change that decision. What I would change is how I went about getting there. I’d tell myself to calm down, breathe, and cut back on the coffee. I’d say “I know you really want to go to Ivey, and I know it means a lot, but nothing is worth letting yourself fall apart mentally or physically. Stop comparing yourself to HBAs and other AEOs. Just be you.”
There is no model of who the perfect Ivey student should be. Not everyone leaves as an investment banker or a consultant. A lot of us make choices to pursue careers related to what we spent our first two years studying. Some of my Ivey friends have gone onto to law school, others are accountants, and one particularly incredible friend decided to pursue a Masters in Philosophy. They’re all doing really well, but it’s important to know that their postgraduate decisions came down to an understanding of who they are as individuals. If those same friends had made the decision to not attend Ivey, I still believe that their determination and perseverance would have led them to a bright future. There isn’t just one right path that leads to whatever future we want.
I went to Ivey with one set of plans, and I graduated with a whole new plan to pursue communications and marketing.
FIMS gave me a great background for that. I look back on my first two years grateful that I made decision to stay in my faculty despite being told there were easier programs and easier classes.
So before you go and rush through the next two years worrying about the FIMS grading curve and whether or not your extracurriculars are good enough, take a moment to breathe. Ask as many questions as you can about both FIMS and Ivey. Talk to upper year students and alumni because they’re the ones who know what these programs are really like. Consider things like mandatory classes, interesting electives, and the differences between lecture-based and case-based learning. Don’t make such an important decision using preconceived notions, and don’t stop doing the things you love because you think you need to be someone else. Think of who you want to be in the future and how that future fits with your education. Don’t rush past good opportunities. Keep your mind open. Let your decisions be informed and reflective of you and your goals. And most importantly, enjoy Western because it really is a wonderful place filled with intelligent young people.