I applied to MUN in a post-high school panic. Running through my mind were the following sentiments: my friends are losers, I’m becoming a loser, I need to make something of myself and I don’t feel cut out for a trade. I knew some people who were studying Engineering and I figured it would be a good enough choice.

I picked my speciality by poring over course descriptions and eliminating options, according to the courses I knew I would never want to take. I chose electrical, but swapped to computer when I realised I was good with software.

My experiences with the program were more or less fine—barring the following: dealing with the misconception that engineers are illiterate, being exploited by a local company during a work term and having to rock the academic boat to get a professor to resign. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I dropped out because I needed to support myself. Missing a mandatory sociology course and an elective, I was short of graduation but had learned all the practical things my undergrad was going to teach me.

I still want the expensive piece of paper, but not having it has taught me that it’s more important to have the knowledge than the degree. Work in my field hasn’t been hard to find and I tend to rise quickly when I go to a new employer—skill comes first.

Retrospect tells me that I fought with administrators and the co-op department because the classes and the programs are overcrowded. My support system was more tough love and adversaries than genuine support, especially when I really needed the help. In effect, five years at MUN turned me 180 degrees from the perspective that led me to apply in the first place.

Being able to do something is more important than the paper that backs you; as long as you can demonstrate your abilities, you will be fine.