As a 21 year old university student pursuing a degree in commerce, eight months of the year are filled with classes, midterms, assignments and exams. From accounting to marketing, finance and statistics, your mind quickly becomes inundated with layers upon layers of information. At times this can be a lot to handle, and I will often see fellow students struggle with class material, become overwhelmed, and unfortunately, lose interest. In contrast, I have enjoyed my university experience thus far and have a genuine interest in the material I am learning. It’s this contrast, the difference between losing interest and maintaining it, that I believe contributes the most to a student’s success. The tutoring, endless hours of studying, countless hours in class, your IQ, all are pointless unless you have a genuine interest in the material. With that said, if I am to reflect upon where I developed my interest for finance and investing, I am often drawn back to a specific moment, a moment that I believe has allowed me to be the student I am today. Although applicable to anyone, I wanted to specifically write this post in hopes of inspiring students who have yet to enter postsecondary education to pursue their interests and find a university or college program they are genuinely passionate about. This post will demonstrate how doing so is beneficial in more ways than one.
The aforementioned moment occurred when I was 16 years old. I was about to finish grade 10, summer was about to begin, and I realized I was going to have a lot of spare time on my hands. Over the past year I had begun to develop an interest in investing and decided to Google the top 10 investing books in hopes of using some of my newfound spare time to read. After clicking through several different lists, I headed over to Amazon and ordered the 10 I thought were best. It is this moment, the moment I decided to order these books, that has benefited me the most at university. Why?
I made the decision on my own. I wasn’t forced into a classroom to learn about things I wasn’t interested in, but rather pursued an interest to see if there truly was a related passion. Sometimes, the hardest part can be taking that first step and committing the time and money to explore an interest. Perhaps you’ll find out it was just a phase and your interest will slowly fade away, but when your interest turns into a passion, you receive a lifetime of reward for a one-time commitment. For me, finance and investing has become a passion, a passion that is luckily available as a university program. Truly having a passion for your program makes those endless hours of studying just a little more enjoyable, and your chances of succeeding just a little more probable. Without taking that hour to research those books, I may have been an engineering or arts student, searching for a career I actually enjoyed, while doing poorly at school. Take those steps and explore your interests, you might just find something you are truly passionate about.
The information in the books, and the university courses to follow, is that much richer. What do I mean by this? When I say richer, I mean it is more valuable, and contributes that much more to your knowledge. Again, when you are forced into classrooms to learn content you have no interest in it’s in one ear, into in your brain for a semester, and then out the other - gone for eternity. But when you are learning content you are interested in, it’s in one ear and into your brain, stuck there for the rest of time. It’s amazing the information you will recall from ‘Chapter 12 of Book X’ or from ‘Lecture 5 of Class A’ when you are actually interested in what you are learning. In university, just remembering the information is half the battle.
You gain an inside edge. By taking that next step and committing the time to read about things you are interested in, you will amass a large amount of knowledge, knowledge that the majority of the population does not possess. When the majority of people receive information from the same source, in the same way (i.e., the education system), it’s as though the knowledge they receive is conformed to a box. It’s good information, but it’s one-dimensional. By reading alternative information from brilliant minds, brilliant minds that at times may have conflicting views, you will begin to approach your learning in a different way. By seeing multiple dimensions, you are now inside, outside, and on top of the box. Your ability to analyze information and develop an understanding of what you are interested in has increased drastically, and so have your chances at being successful.
So these are the three reasons why I believe this moment was monumental in contributing to my success at university. Not only did it allow me to find a passion I would pursue as a degree, but it provided with me with unique and priceless information that remains with me to this day. For any students with interests in certain subjects or topics, I can’t stress this point enough: take that first step, research books, and find information. It will validate whether you are truly passionate about that interest. If you are, you will be provided with the opportunity to pursue a career you actually enjoy. If you are not, it will steer you away from a career you may absolutely hate. Don’t enter post-secondary education hoping to find something you are interested in, only to be unsuccessful and waste thousands of dollars. Instead, commit the time beforehand, discover something you are passionate about, and be rewarded with a fulfilling and successful post-secondary career.
I am currently enrolled in my third year of study at the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management. I am pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Commerce with a Specialization in Finance.