My graduation goals

Wow. I can’t believe it’s that time of year again when students from all around have either just finished their studies, are bracing themselves for summer semester or those lucky ones who have found themselves at the conclusion of their journey. Congratulations, one and all! You made it, however far you have made it along your journey, you are at least part of the way. Studying at university can really take you places that at times feel out of this world.

krisi graduation journey

Which one of these kinds of students am I, do you ask? I am the kicking-on kind. I have just reached the end of a 3-year bachelor degree and I am launching straight into honours. Now that I am moving into a whole new era of study, I have been considering what my goals are for the future.

The challenge I have accepted is further study. The goal I have set myself is to achieve honours of the first class and, consequently, a better chance of being accepted into postgraduate study. Wait, let me actually seriously consider that for a moment. That is a lot of 7s. Before I blast-off at the beginning of the year continuing on as a full-time student, I am really going to have to consider how much rocket fuel I have at this point in my studying career. After all, I don’t want to let my personal needs nor, dare I say it, grades fall victim to outer space!

krisi - victim of outer space

The ultimate question then, is to study full-time or to study part-time. Achieving the best GPA that I have ever dreamed of setting my sights on is going to be no mean feat. It is certainly going to require a lot of my attention to stay on-course to achieve that first class honours. Should I take the longer route that gives me the most time to navigate the asteroids or should I start the count down from 10, shut my eyes and prepare to blast-off along the most direct path?

Lucky for me, I have a bit of time on my hands to think about this before I decide which trip I will take. There is always going to be something great about being a full-time student, studying the maximum course load in order to get to that number one goal of a dream career faster. At the same time, there is a-whole-‘nother world out there that I haven’t even experienced yet. The idea of studying part-time, giving me extra time to study for each course, achieve academic success and have the opportunity to  start crossing off some of my other goals, like traveling, is incredibly tempting.

I am interested to know, what were the goals you set yourself after you finished your bachelor degree? Did you choose to complete further study or decide on another course of action? Who knows, maybe you even experienced the same dilemma as me. I would love to hear about your experiences after graduating!

Why my degree was right for me

Once upon a time, when I was a wee lad, a huge storm broke over the horizon. Gusts of wind picked up and threw everything around in its path, including our family trampoline. We woke the next day to discover our trampoline had landed on the roof of a neighbouring house across the road. Some years later, that same neighbour greeted me on my first day at university as a lecturer.

Tom's trampoline after stormLooking back, that was probably just coincidence and not really fate. However, there were some key indicators over the years that reminded me I was studying the right degree for me. One of these was the style of learning. At school, I really struggled with maths because I couldn’t apply myself practically. Had Applied Media been a textbook-based course, I don’t know that I would have made it through. Luckily, my course was much more like physical education than maths, meaning you couldn’t really be marked on anything you couldn’t physically create. It is always different for everyone, but this was a huge plus for me.

One thing I never did at school was hand in an assignment early. Maybe it was the thrill of pushing the limits of deadlines, maybe it was just laziness. Something must have clicked at university, because I handed my first assignment in one week early. This unprecedented event was rewarded with a 7 (High Distinction) and an enlarged ego. I was so excited about handing in assignments I seemed to forget… I WAS EXCITED ABOUT HANDING IN ASSIGNMENTS! Who had I become? Was this maturity or had I been brainwashed? It couldn’t just be because I enjoyed the work I was doing, could it…?

If you’re anything like me, the first time you went to Dreamworld you refused to leave the gates at 5pm. I’m not going to lie, that’s exactly how I felt at the end of my degree. Not to say knowing I’d never have to hand in an assignment again wasn’t a great feeling, but I was left with an empty void. Having spent three years at USQ, I felt like I was leaving a massive part of myself behind on graduation day. The first thing I did after I graduated was search for post-graduate degrees and similar courses I could study just so I could stay.

But it wouldn’t have been the same. Much like watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you can try and recreate the magic of the first time you saw the films on the big screen, but it will never be the same. Frodo didn’t get to the top of Mount Doom and say ‘let’s do that again.’ Instead, he got on a boat with Gandalf and began a new adventure, cherishing the memory of his nine-hour, multi-million dollar, blockbuster quest.

End of LOTR trilogySo, I figure, if you cherish the memory of your university experience so much so that you consider going back just so you can relive it, you chose the right degree for you.

Until next time,
Tom.

That G-RAD-uation Feeling!

RESULTS ARE OUT!  Congratulations to everyone who will be graduating in September.  It’s a rewarding moment, receiving THAT email after years of slaving away behind a keyboard.  After enjoying the immediate obligatory celebrations, there’s a bit of a gap before your graduation ceremony.  I remember a friend asking me “why bother going to your graduation ceremony, isn’t it pointless if you can just get your degree mailed to you.”

Here’s why…

Firstly, you get to wear an awesome hat and gown.  You know, the ones you always see in those American college films and they toss their hat in the air and by some miracle all catch their own respective hats.  Now is a good time to mention you’re technically not allowed to throw the hats now.  Did I mention the gowns are basically Hogwarts robes?

ProTip:  Take a wand to graduation and duel members of other faculties for maximum enjoyment.

tom graduation

Another part worth going for is the chance to be snapped by the local paper.  Personally, I love every bit of limelight I can crawl my way into, so with local newspaper photographers doing the rounds, there was ample opportunity.

ProTip:  Being friends with the valedictorian goes a long way to increasing your photo chances.

I did worry that the ceremony itself was going to be a bit of drag, much like the old-school assemblies.  However, on the day, you feel an emotional investment with each part of the proceedings.  From marching through the middle of town, to the keynote speeches, and even the individual presentation of awards to each student.  Standing in the wings waiting for my turn to receive my award was the best part.  Watching each student before me push their chest out, lift their head and stride across the stage, you know that they are feeling the same pride that you are.  It was at this moment I realised what I was about to be awarded wasn’t just a piece of paper.

Achievement unlocked graduation

What you receive during that fleeting moment on stage is ultimate satisfaction.  Each all-nighter pulled, each early morning lecture, each overdue library book fine, each social event neglected all culminated into an abundance of achievement and self-gratification.  That’s a feeling I could never recreate opening my degree in the mail.

I’ve since had my degree framed and it is something I am proud to hang on display for everyone to see.  There’s no better feeling than graduating uni, and I’d love to do a postgraduate degree just to do it again.

tom graduate

Until next time,

Tom

What is your long-term goal?

I have one exam and one assignment to go. That is it. In one week, I will have finished my four year degree.

I was asked recently, ‘what is your long-term goal?’. For once in my life, I was actually speechless.

My ‘long-term’ (at least it had seemed long term) goal had consisted of working hard at uni, achieving the best GPA possible, finishing my degree and then passionately teaching maths and/ or art to high school kids somewhere.

However, when I was asked the question recently, I realised that the once seemingly massive task of completing my degree was almost complete. I had focused so much energy into doing well in exams, assignments, pracs and internships that somewhere along the way, I forgot that this was all leading somewhere.

I began thinking back to the reasons I began the degree in the first place. There are many reasons, but a few pivotal moments stand out.

When I was in middle primary school, I was truly over-excited about learning. I would come home, quickly open my homework sheet, complete it, parade around with it in front of my parents and then set about creating a ‘homework’ sheet for my younger sister to complete. I loved teaching her new things. Though I had waited a few years after high school to begin formal study, I think that becoming a teacher was predetermined.

This passion for teaching and sharing what I knew continued throughout my life. It was then extended through travel, where I realised my passion for teaching overseas as well as helping those who are less fortunate.

The passion still exists. The degree has almost been attained. So, where do I see myself in 2, 5, 10, 20 years? What will be in store for the Rickard’s, long-term?

I think the answer here is teaching internationally and participating in long-term volunteer/ charity projects within the country. Ideally, of course.

How has USQ assisted with this? I have attained (almost) an internationally recognised degree from a university which is highly regarded throughout the world for its Education program. It is because of USQ’s connections with partner-schools around the world that I was given the opportunity to teach in Thailand, as one of my pracs. I have been given great guidance from lecturers, have met a wonderful bunch of like-minded friends and have found my inner-confidence.

The journey has been challenging. This is felt most during exam block, the current time of this semester. However, I think it is important to be reminded that this is a road which is leading somewhere – to a realisation of your hopes and dreams, the achievement of a goal in which you have chosen.

For me, it is with an excited heart that I reveal the new chapter in which I am about to begin, thanks to my journey here…

I have secured a mathematics teaching position in Bangkok, Thailand!

Thank you for sharing the latter part of my journey with me through my blogs. All the best.