Sunday, 2 February 2014

Leave your smaller university: From UFV to SFU

Simon Fraser University, BC

Those of you who know me will know that I moved out this past summer from Langley to Burnaby to go to Simon Fraser University. Before I was accepted to SFU, I had been working on my Bachelor's degree at the University of the Fraser Vally out in Abbotsford while living at home and working part time. It's so funny now when people ask me where I transferred from and when I tell them "UFV," they have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. The University, while decent, just really isn't very well known outside the Fraser Valley. And this is part of the reason I applied to SFU.

After high school I took a year off of education in order to work (I did), travel (I didn't), and save money (I definitely didn't). I finally quit my first job at an overpriced grocery store and conveniently started working for my absolute favourite company in Canada. After a year of work and a slight obsession with World of Warcraft, I decided I needed to get back into school again and applied to UFV.

In Langley and Abbotsford, UFV is the school everyone goes to; I literally saw high school classmates a couple times a day when I was on campus. And while the familiarity aspect was a good thing, it also meant that a lot of students were there for the cheap tuition, small class sizes, and ability to commute to school. Therefore, school spirit, extra-curricular activities, and scholarly opportunities were next to non-existent. For me, this was a huge issue. I have always been an excellent student, I blame it on my over-organization of every aspect of my life, but I'm very proud of how well I do when I push myself. So after a year and a half at UFV with students who didn't really want to be there, professors who were underpaid and unhappy with their jobs, and basically just a total lack of support from the University administration, I sent in my application to SFU.

Funnily enough, SFU was never on my list of schools I was interested in. All throughout high school I was wooed by UBCO and UVIC with their sprawling campuses, city life, and beautiful surroundings. But after two years at the best bookstore job ever and 5 semester at UFV, I finally had a sense of the direction I wanted my education to take: Publishing. In British Columbia, there is only one school that has a credible publishing program with industry professionals for instructors, and that program is at SFU. So I applied to go to school on a dreary mountain.

My long-time boyfriend and I both applied to SFU at the same time, so the waiting game for the acceptance letters was a long one. We applied in October and didn't hear back until April, and when we finally did hear back, we opened our letters together and were both terrified and excited at the idea that we would have to look for apartments and buy furniture. I had to leave my favourite job with the best co-workers to move out to Burnaby where I now work at a larger store in my same favourite company. Now, I take the bus instead of drive, and I have to spend my money on rent and food first, and Starbucks and books second, but it's completely worth it because of the opportunities I've had just from where I work and where I go to school.

What started off as a decision to go to school on a mountain in the rainiest city in Canada actually turned into the best decision for my academic and professional careers. I have received more opportunities just from being at SFU in one semester than I did in my entire two years at UFV. I ended my first semester at SFU with an awesome GPA, and since then, multiple academic opportunities have been extended to me, and there are clubs at my University that teach you how to use social media professionally and network with industry professionals. The difference between a small university and a large one is exponential and is seen especially in the options for getting involved on campus. At UFV there was one student union; at SFU there is a student union for every faculty, with volunteer opportunities in each one. Here, every professor is like the best professors at UFV, and I can honestly say that I have taken at least one important thing away from every course so far.

I guess the point of this post is to reach out to those who I know are settling for the university or college they current attend. I knew I was a better student than to settle for UFV, and I know so many other people who are too. I just want to make sure others know that the hassle with transferring between universities is absolutely worth it. It was worth every dollar I spent and still spend on furniture, rent, and groceries. It is worth having to visit my family and give up driving my car as often. It's worth the stress and the larger class sizes; it's all worth it. I wish I had left my old university sooner, and I wish others would too. I realized that for students of SFU and UBC, the education isn't all about the name printed on the graduation certificate at the end, it's completely about the experience of the school, faculty, administration, campus, and community. I meet so many interesting people in my classes, and I love listening to (almost) every prof's two-hour lecture.

Leave your old university, trust me, it's so worth it.

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