From Ridley to First Year of University

Throughout the summer we will be featuring blog posts from our summer student Liz. Liz graduated from Ridley in 2014 and has just completed her first year of University. She is also our summer tour guide, so if you come to campus for a visit you will meet her! Liz is happy to answer any questions you might have, you can follow her on twitter @RidleyTourGuide.

Moving from high school to university can be a big adjustment for most students. It’s exciting to graduate, but also a little nerve-wracking to consider transitioning to a new community and leaving some important support networks behind.

Everyone’s post-Ridley plans are a little different. Some of the graduates from my class took a year to travel or gain some work experience. Most of us chose to attend college or university, heading to different schools across the country and around the world. Having studied here for eight years, I did most of my growing up at Ridley. With this in mind, I was especially anxious about some of the challenges I might face at university. Though I was a little unsure of what to expect, it didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable balancing classes, extracurricular endeavours, and social life.
14088218909_b3f6548a4f_bOne of the hardest decisions I had to make toward the end of high school was deciding what I wanted to do after I graduated. From grade nine to grade twelve, guidance meetings helped me to pinpoint some of the goals I might have for the future and the best ways to go about achieving them. When it came to applying to universities, I knew that I wanted to experience a bigger city and have lots of options in selecting individual courses and programmes of study. I went to lots of university admissions presentations hosted at Ridley and to a number of fairs in the province on trips arranged by the guidance department. Soon after, I applied to universities across Canada and the United Kingdom, and my guidance counselor sourced a ton of great scholarship information. In the end, I was confident that the University of Toronto would be the best fit for me and, so far, I’m thrilled with my choice.

In terms of academics, I always loved the humanities and social sciences at Ridley. Everything from the Harkness table debates to seminar presentations to Ridley archives visits helped prepare me for high-level discussion and research. In my two first-year seminar courses in university (Canadian policy history and public policy ethics), I was able to jump right into the conversation, listen effectively and make thoughtful contributions – skills that I think really helped me to take advantage of my university experience. Although writing a solid essay is always a challenge, I started university confident that I had the ability to research and structure my ideas effectively so that I could produce papers I felt proud of.

It’s strange to say, but one of the most unexpected parts of university life for me was having more free time. At Ridley, I spent from around 8:30am to 3:45pm most days in classes, and had sports practices or musical rehearsals immediately after until about 5:30pm. After dinner, I was either in study or at an evening activity like choir practice or cadet officer/NCO training. Being involved in extracurriculars was such an important part of my Ridley experience that I knew I wanted the same thing in university.

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On the social side of things, the residence experience was very familiar to me right from the start even as a day student. Having had five different boarding roommates from grade nine to twelve, I knew that I had to communicate well in order to build a solid relationship in close confines. This past year, I was lucky enough to have a great roommate. We quickly learned each other’s routines and found that shared a number of interests. Even though we did lots together as friends, we also gave each other space when we needed it.

The thing I’m probably most grateful to have learned before coming to university is the importance of balance. My academic progress is always high on my list of priorities, but so is being healthy and feeling good. I think that some of the habits I developed at Ridley really helped me stay on the right track in my first year. Though there were definitely times when a two-hour rowing practice or field hockey game seemed overwhelming after a busy school day, I’m thankful that I was able to learn how to plan exercise and the sports I love into my schedule. I always felt best after working out in the university gyms, playing in an intramural field hockey game, or finishing a Zumba class with my roommate.

At the end of the day, no two people will have the same experience after high school. That said, I’m grateful to have graduated with the skills and experience necessary to pursue my academic and career goals and make the most of my time as a student.