Scott H Young

Thoughts on University


I apologize for my lack of posting during this past week. I usually try to get a full article in every day or two, but moving to University has eaten up all my time and energy to write a new post until now. Seeing as this has been a big transition for myself it has given me many thoughts to share for personal development which I will try to add in articles later on. In addition to that I have read a lot of different remarks on the current status of post-secondary education and I would like to add my experiences into the mix.

For those of you who have missed some of my recent writings, I recently moved into student residence to attend the University of Manitoba. Along with the notable transition from the highschool life to University there is the additional transition for myself of moving out of home and living on my own. Here are some of my observations of University life.

Drinking in University

Lately I have heard a lot of remarks from various bloggers, news programs and others about the state of drinking in universities. Many have argued that far from the intellectual paradise that many universities focus far too much on partying hard and drinking even more. I been exposed to the environment firsthand so I thought I could share some of my experiences with this issue.

First, let me state that the legal drinking age where I reside is eighteen. I am unsure about the effect that the illegality of alcohol consumption by college students has on the amount they consume. One would think that by being illegal less alcohol is consumed, but another effect is that by making it illegal you promote more dangerous ways for it to be used. I haven’t researched this issue to offer insights on that, all I can offer is my experiences in a setting where almost everyone can legally consume alcohol.

Contrary to popular media attention, universities aren’t all drinking and partying. Although there are many socials and parties along with people who drink all the time I have met many people that won’t drink at all even though they can legally. This is a refreshing change from highschool where there was a far greater pressure to consume alcohol.

Compared to highschool, I would even say that there is less drinking in university despite the fact that it is easier and more accepted to do so. Unlike highschool where there is less diversity and considerably less maturity, in highschool there was far more pressure to consume alcohol. As maturity increases students are also more responsible with their drinking, choosing to drink more in moderation and take responsibility for the consequences.

A New Environment

Of all the changes I have noticed from University, particularly from living in residence, was the drastic change in environment from living at home. I am fairly good at adapting to new situations so I was able to take advantage of the opportunities that this change provided, but it also explains why other students may have a harder time getting used to the environment. Here are a few of the major environment changes I noticed from university:

Total Responsibility – Unlike highschool where if you made mistakes or forgot things there were little consequences, the consequences here are very real. I have been living my life through a viewpoint of total responsibility for some time, so I haven’t had a lot of trouble adjusting to this new environment. Other students may have more difficulty adapting to a situation where they are in complete control of there fate and have to live with those consequences.

Introversion/Extroversion – I fancy myself an introverted extrovert in that I have many introverted tendencies and many extroverted tendencies. I dislike the labels of introvert and extrovert because I think they are arbitrary and often inaccurate measurements of human personality. Moving to a completely new environment shows how the differences between introvert and extrovert can create different problems. I would like to write an article about creating an ideal personality balance with introvert and extrovert characteristics because I believe it is incredibly important when adapting to a new environment.

Habit Changes – One of the odd things I realized when moving to University is that many of the habits I worked to install in the past year may not hold such advantages in this new environment. Television watching is a perfect example. In my old setting most of the television I watched was by myself and it was a huge time waster both to my productivity but also to my social life. In this new setting I don’t have cable in my room, so any television I watch is usually a social activity with the people in my residence. This brings up an important point that habit changes are not universally good or bad. Each habit change you make should be done to facilitate a better life for yourself but just because it does so for one person in one setting doesn’t mean it is always applicable to you.

Another change I noticed regarding habits is how quickly you can adapt to a new set of habits simply by changing your environment. Although it normally takes me about a month to consciously force a habit change, changing the environment to force that change can switch numerous habits in a few months. I’m not sure exactly how to use this skill at the moment, but it could be a powerful new way to take control over your behavior.

Relationships

One of the biggest changes from living in a small town at home in highschool to living in a student residence in a large city has been the opportunity for forming new relationships. Not only is there a much larger diversity of people that you can meet but the environment is designed to facilitate relationships.

Culturally there is a much greater diversity here than before. Many international students come to university from abroad so I have been privileged to have met such a diverse group of people in my stay. Even on my small floor of around thirty people, we have students from India, China, Mexico, Sweden, Finland, Japan as well as various places across North America. This blend of cultures forms a very unique and interesting environment.

In addition to the general relationships and friendships to be made on campus I have also been looking more into the opportunities of more intimate relationships. I definitely can’t call myself anything close to an expert in those matters, but the next few months should provide some very interesting thoughts and learning experiences on dating and relationships. Most of the personal development authors I know tend to approach relationships from the building and maintaining relationships standpoint. Those authors that do tackle dating tend to take a very shallow approach that is largely based on immature games and strategies. Seeing as this is an important issue that affects a lot of people, I might try to offer some personal development insights into this issue later on.

I have noticed a considerable amount of changes during my brief venture into university life that have created a lot of thoughts about personal development for myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to stop by and write about some of these ideas during the next few busy weeks. Until then good luck with your own efforts to get more out of your life.


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5 Responses to “Thoughts on University”

  1. Dave says:

    Interesting observations. I disagree with you however on the Introversion/Extroversion thing. I don’t think it at all is arbitrary. There may be different mixtures of each in different people, but as a measure of where we get our energy I’d say the concept is pretty spot-on, speaking as someone who is way on the introversion side of things.

  2. If you are interested in more scientific and empirical descriptions of personality types (including the ol’ introvert vs. extrovert), I suggest “Please Understand Me Now 2″ by David Keirsey. Great book, changed the way I look at people.

  3. Scott Young says:

    Thanks for the comments Dave and Michael.

    I’m against the introversion vs extroversion generalization for a number of reasons. Not only do I believe that testing for this personality type is generally far from scientific (personal questionaires should be left for magazines like Cosmopolitan rather than a scientific measurement), but I also think that in many times the introversion/extroversion bias tends to form a self-fulfilling prophecy (I know as someone who used to rate very high on the introvert scale). I’ll try to write more on this issue as it is one I feel very strongly about.

  4. I don’t think that any serious proponent of these theories is saying that you are only one or the other, but empirical data certainly seems to show that there are tendencies. It’s not about being shy or social, it’s more about being more comfortable in the world of ideas and “living inside your head” or not.

    Some people get downright uncomfortable when they are alone; you always see them talking on the phone, being with friends, loved ones, family, and when all else fails, watching TV, etc. Of course they can learn to be better at being alone, but it doesn’t change their tendency to be extroverted and for the need to externalize their thoughts and to have external input.

    I’m definitely an introvert, but I still won debating prizes in law school and am not particularly afraid of public speaking or of meeting new people. It’s not all one or the other, but there are dominant traits.

  5. Scott Young says:

    Michael,

    My argument isn’t that people don’t have tendencies it is simply that these tendencies aren’t fixed in stone. Most of the psychological research I have seen supports the viewpoint that introverts have a higher sensitivity to sensory inputs as opposed to extroverts. Based on my own personal experience I believe that this response to stimulation can be conditioned one way or another.

    Since it is presumed that introversion/extroversion biases are often genetically based, I think that makes the somewhat false assumption that it is out of the control of the person. Just because you were born in one country doesn’t mean you can’t move to another one. Similarly, I think that the amount you can change your personality isn’t fixed.

    Of course, if you are perfectly happy with your current introversion/extroversion bias then, by all means, go ahead. For myself, many of the things I wanted to experience would require a more neutral to extroverted bias. Trying to shift myself into a position where I can use the advantages of both traits was my goal.

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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