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‘What if…?’ Concerns about University

There are many things to think about when picking the course you are going to study for the next three or so years, from the course itself to the university you’ll study it at, to where you’ll live, and what you’ll do afterwards. A lot of these questions are hard to answer, especially when feeling like you have to make sure it is the right decision and plan out the perfect path, and you may even be left wondering, ‘what if it’s the wrong decision?’ 

Over the past year and a term, I have had conversations with fellow students across many walks, and stages of life. Whilst this is one of the best parts of what makes LIS LIS – people from a wide range of backgrounds coming together to talk about important and pressing topics – it can also be very daunting. The comparison between piers can be intimidating, particularly when we are all at different points in our lives, with varying accomplishments prior to joining. Unease about the future, or academic and well-being worries, are often magnified in these environments, forming an even more apprehensive reaction when making the commitment to starting this journey. 

In this time, I have encountered and worked through (or currently am) my fair share of these concerns, all of which seemed to start with ‘what if…’ 

What if I made the wrong decision? What if I am not suited to this degree? What if I don’t ‘fit in’? What if I do it wrong? What if other people are more capable than me? 

These are all understandable and normal questions for university students, but because of the incredible support system offered by LIS I get the chance to think through these thoughts and questions, to get the most from my time at university, and to not feel like I’ve been left alone to figure it all out myself. 

Before starting at LIS, I was confused and unsure about my next steps after university, and I wasn’t sure how to pick a direction that would suit my passions when there were so many possibilities making it hard to narrow it down. However, with help from our careers advisor, I have enjoyed considering what to do next after university and how to take on internships (as early as the summer of first year!) that excite me and would benefit these ideas whilst also allowing me to explore new areas. 

I have received advice on how to work through personal and academic concerns from our student support, which I will not only take with me through my time at LIS, but afterwards, too. By speaking with student support or simply attending of a number of events set up – from hot chocolate conversations to short meditations – I have been guided through finding ways to balance the ups and downs of university life, manage time more effectively, and face the idea of being an ‘imposter’ or the feeling of unease in my decisions. 

Thanks to the student experience team at LIS, there have been plentiful opportunities to interact with students who are like-minded but with their own individual ideas. This has provided a new way to learn, forming environments for varied wealths of knowledge and mindsets to be creative and contribute. This team have also established events to speak to people from numerous industries, who have opened my eyes to new interests, and widened my perception about life after graduation, alleviating stresses that build with these questions and worries. 

Joining a new university, particularly a new university, is a process of a mix of emotions, thoughts, and questions. For many, picking LIS may have felt like more of a risk; without previous graduates, there are no example career trajectories or alumni to confide in about what comes next. Yet, that has made it even more exciting. The unknowns may feel like they encouraged uncertainly, but instead, it gave us a unique chance to shape our university experience so that we can explore, action, succeed and debate in as many ways as imaginable. In doing so, forming a community, one of thinkers with varied insights and opinion. My journey at LIS has opened my eyes to subject disciplines, jobs industries, and career pathways I had never heard of before, let alone considered as an option for my future – I’m glad I asked, ‘What if I took the step onto this course?’.

By Jasmine Bowley 

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