During my first term at university, I was lucky enough to have enrolled in a brand new class called General Studies 101 – Introduction to University Studies. Looking back, this class was probably one of the best classes I took during my undergrad years. After all, entering university at 18 years old, I was kind of a confused. I had a lot of things I wanted to achieve like get straight As, land some fabulous co-op (work study) positions and find a hot nerdy girl to marry! The problem was I didn’t really know how to achieve all of this. Heck, I didn’t even know what I was going to major in as I came in undeclared!
But General Studies 101 really helped me through all that as the instructors showed me that university was more than just a ticket to a good paying job. In fact, one of the very first things they said was that there was no guarantees that your university degree will get you a good job. Instead, they encouraged me to focus on getting an education rather than just a degree. As I came to understand, university really does comes at a crucial time in your life and has a massive impact on your personal growth and development.
My success at university, as my instructors noted, will largely be determined by my attitude and understanding of why I was there. You can probably guess that this was a lot for most 18 year olds to truly understand. In fact, most of my classmates saw the class as a bit of joke, an easy three credits, which is why they enrolled. But, as I began listening to what the instructors had to say, the more I began to re-think the way I saw university and the reason why most people go to university. During the term, one of the assigned readings was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.)Psychological & Suspense Thrillers Books).
Upon first picking up this book at the bookstore, I really didn’t know what to make of it. I really thought it was going to be some sort of repair manual for motorcycles when I first glanced at it. It was only when I started reading it that I started to understand that it really was a book about how one should view your life. In a nutshell, the book’s author claims that there are two types of people in the world. First, there are those who are not really interested in doing things like learning to maintain their motorcycles and are more focused on just using the machine for what it is and not really questioning too many things. Then there are those who are really interested in maintaining their own machines, in learning how things work and understanding beauty and function of things that exist in the world… like motorcycles.
Irregardless of what kind of person you think you are, the most important thing this book does is make you think about yourself within that spectrum. It’s a powerful book that I think that many of you who are starting out at university should give a try. At the very least, it would make for some great summer reading.