Couples Therapy: Rekindling the Bond Between Student and Program

Concept: you’re sitting in an old local coffee shop. It was quaint, warm, and especially endearing when you first fell in love with your post-secondary program—whether that be only a matter of months prior to this very moment, or many years before—but your outlook has, quite frankly, become rather bleak; and you’re slowly coming to the realization that this isn’t the love affair you imagined it would be. The once fond memories you harbored have begun to fade, and you find yourself whispering the cliché and all too dreaded broken promise: “it’s not you, it’s me.” Your tone is apologetic; though the enticing, lingering memories of your brief love affair with an elective course betray you. You know that you shouldn’t say goodbye like this, after all, you made a commitment. And still you cannot help but wonder whether this is it… Was it never meant to be?

I will always believe that the bond between a student and their program is unlike anything that I will ever have the privilege of experiencing. There is a certain beauty within the wide-eyed wonder of a first-year student as they walk into a lecture hall for the very first time—embraced by their program with a childlike glee.

This is the bond I wish upon every student. This is the bond that sometimes doesn’t last.

From a young age, the post-secondary students of today (yesterday, and tomorrow) have been groomed to commit ourselves to a dream; which could then be transferred into a program, and later, a marriage-worthy career. Oftentimes these commitments are based upon the social foundation that fostered us. There is an expectation that certain career paths are more valuable, and that the ideal student shouldn’t concern themselves with a love affair that wouldn’t conventionally prosper.

This mindset has greatly tarnished the relationships a student might have with their program of choice, and often we’re left wondering whether we’ve truly made the right choice.

So… Is this the end?

My best advice is that you make an appointment with Academic Advising, and understand that this feeling isn’t limited only to you. Talk about your strengths, weaknesses, and the ways in which you might be able to improve the relationship you have with your program. Understand the future you wanted, and the future you’ve grown to want—are they the same dream? Understand that, sometimes, dreams don’t work out; though always know that it is completely worth the risk. Never doubt that this is worth every risk. What are you afraid of?

Talk to your professors, your parents, and friends.

Remember also that a poor grade is a hurdle meant to be overcome. Consider tutoring or student success; ask for help, and always be sure to exhaust the plethora of resources available to you.

Still, sometimes, you cannot rekindle a lost love. I’ve learned through the loss of my own wide-eyed wonder that university is a bit of a journey—the beaten path one might travel when they’re on the cusp of self discovery… Even if they aren’t quite sure what this means yet. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that nothing is inherently meant to be, and that there is absolutely no shame in discovering a program that compliments you better than the one you began your journey with (even if you never meant to). I’ve learned that sometimes university isn’t the love affair you imagined it would be, but this doesn’t mean it cannot be all the better for it.

Dare to choose the bond that compliments you—whatever that might be—and dare to work for it. This is, after all, your love affair.

– Amber W.