How I Survived and Thrived My First Year Back at College

Last week I finished my fourth term in the Bachelor of Public Relations program. In all honesty, going back to college was something I knew I wanted to do before I even graduated from journalism, but actually doing it was terrifying! So terrifying, in fact, that I was going to go back last year but decided against it. This time around not only did I survive, I totally thrived!

This was probably the most difficult school term as of yet! Having earned a journalism diploma, I was confident in my ability to do well in school. I quickly learned that this program is vastly different and as a result, much more difficult! Part of that is because I have been pushing myself to do better, and part of it might be because this is a degree program versus a diploma program, but truthfully, it’s probably just the content.

I haven’t received my grades for each course yet, but I know I’ve done a lot better than previous terms based on my grades from individual assignments and tests.

How I Survived and Thrived My First Year Back at College

So, what did this term looklike?

PR Courses

Well, I learned project management, I created a kick-ass campaign for a local not-for-profit, I helped plan and execute a large professional communications conference, I improved my vocabulary and learned about art history, and I learned how to create a creative brief for advertisements as well as effective techniques. It was a lot of work juggling all of these courses, especially between campaigns and events, but I loved doing it and I learned a lot!

Public Relations Campaigns

Creating a campaign for a local not-for-profit organization was probably one of the most exciting projects I did. My project partner and I did a really amazing job, according to our grades and professor’s comments, and I would love for this campaign to come to life! Creating a campaign was definitely more work than I expected, but I loved the creativity behind it and I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned to my own business.

Event Planning and Promotions

How I Survived and Thrived My First Year Back at College

The most difficult project was probably planning the conference. I was on the sponsorship and guest speaker committees. My group was the only group to do two committees, but I loved learning the various aspects of each one. I knew going into this course that planning events is never as easy or quite as fun as you think it will be. There are so many details to consider, and things that can go wrong. But, we did it and it turned out really well!

History of Art and Its Objects

My favourite course was my elective: History of Art and Its Objects. A weird course name, for sure. In this course we learned about the various art movements throughout history and explored the different eras from when they took place. My classmate and I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario with our professors design class, because we could, and it was a great way to spend the day! There is a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition on now and I’m pretty sure I’m going to take Sidney with me to see her artwork.

I’ve always loved art but never took the time to learn much about it. I now feel like I understand it a lot more and have an even deeper appreciation.

Project Management

My project management class was probably one of the most challenging courses for me this term, grade wise. Mostly because we had to learn the Microsoft Office Project Management program, which I didn’t care for. But, I know how to use it now and who knows, maybe I’ll actually have to use it one day. But, even though I found it challenging, I really enjoyed it! I learned a lot about how to plan a project and I’m now applying the textbook phases and steps to planning out my new business, and I’m sure I’ll use it for future projects, too.

Summer Co-op

Because this is a co-op program with two required co-op placements, I’ll be starting my first one in May! I’ll be doing social media management and graphic design for a national not-for-profit organization, which is so exciting! I’ve been wanting to offer social media services for a while, so it worked out really great that my first co-op happened to be just that! I’m trying to figure out a good system for tracking my work and progress so I can apply it to my co-op and future projects. If you know of any good social media management resources, I’d really appreciate it if you sent them my way!


Tips for Next Year

  • Make school a priority! For this term I took a leave of absence from work and quit drinking entirely. I wanted to focus all of my attention on school and family, and it really helped! I ended up drinking at the beard competition and it took me a week to feel like myself again, which just really proved to me that drinking has a bigger impact than just a hangover; it lingers.
  • Schedule in homework and study time! I spent a lot of evenings working on assignments instead of hanging out with friends or even Nick. I scheduled time into my planner just for studying or working on big assignments, and I made sure that I stuck to it.
  • Do not procrastinate! It’s easy to leave things to the last minute, and sometimes things had to get pushed to the last minute to focus on more pressing tasks, but aiming to get things done sooner than later definitely helped.
  • Attend all classes (or at least as many as possible)! I made sure to attend every class that I could, with the exception of a few due to illness. This term I refused to miss class, even if I though it wouldn’t be important or boring or I was too tired to get up. Even if I was late, I went, and because of that I was able to do a lot better.
  • Participate in discussions! I’m not usually the person to raise their hand, but this term I made myself and it definitely helps to get yourself noticed by your professors and peers.
  • Ask for help! I usually hate going to ask for help, but I actually met with professors a few times to get help or guidance and it totally paid off.
  • Make friends! To be honest, I’m a bit of a loner. I kind of enjoy it too much, you know, as an introvert. But this term I made an effort to talk to my classmates and make friends, and it made this entire experience a lot more enjoyable. I’ve always said that your work is only as fun as the people you work with, so its definitely worth the effort to acquaintance yourself with your classmates.
  • Do things that scare you! AKA trying new things.Β School is the opportune time to try new things, and often those new things can be terrifying! For my events class, I was asked to introduce the guest speaker I had been working with at the conference to a room of about 100 people. It was scary as all hell, but I did it! This is the best time to really grow as a person and learn new things.

And now that this term is done I have just two more years left and then I will have a degree! I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years and learning as much as possible! At the same time, I’m going to be growing my business and maybe by the time I graduate I’ll be earning a full-time income for myself. That’s the plan, anyway.

Anyone else in school right now? What are some highlights from this past year for you?

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  1. Dave Barrett Reply

    Excellent summary and learning. Good luck on your coop and next school term!

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