To school or not to school

Education is the only way to achieve success. That notion is ingrained into our heads from the moment we step into the education system as children and is perpetuated by our teachers, peers, family, and even ourselves. The importance of education is why we all go to this very university. Correction: why you all go to this very university.</p>

For the longest time, I believed that university education was the only way to find success in life and not be considered a failure. This problem thinking caused me to jump from program to program, never finding anything that made me happy. All it brought was more stress and anxiety. And when you suffer from depression, that stress and anxiety can be next to unbearable at times. 

No matter my state of mind, each term followed the same vicious cycle. Start the term a little timid, plan out the next three months based on each class’s syllabus, and repeat bouts of self-doubt, anger, sadness, and panic throughout. I tried seeking help through counselling, medication, and changing my outlook on life, but the depression never went away — it only subsided for a brief period of time. 

School quite literally took over my life, and not in a good way. Nothing was ever fine and if I said otherwise, it was a lie. I always had school on my mind, be it at work, on the bus ride home, in the car, or at Imprint. These negative feelings seeped into every facet of my life and I eventually grew sick of it.

On Sept. 25, 2015, I made the choice to withdraw from the University of Waterloo. It was hard and scary to go through with it, but it was what I needed to do. Though this may sound cliché, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders once I handed my withdrawal form to the registrar. While I am still nervous about the road ahead of me, I can honestly say this is the happiest I have been in a long time.

In no way am I trying to tell everybody to drop out of university when the going gets tough. I want to bring light to the fact that university is not the be-all and end-all, no matter what society has conditioned us to think. Do what is best for you before anybody else. If that means taking a year off to travel or going right into the workforce upon graduation, just do it! 

You may have heard this all before, but most of the time we don’t take these words to heart. I didn’t realize it for myself until my grandfather said, “Andrew, school will always be there, but EB [where I work currently] won’t be.” Unless the apocalypse happens or every university goes bankrupt, school will always be here for us to come back to. Sadly, the opportunities that are presented to us in the here and now won’t be on the table forever — best to take them before time runs out.

My path is only one way through life. While the path you take in life will differ tremendously from mine, I hope this article gets you to reflect on life and the true reason you study at UW. There is no need to be bounded by university. Come here for the right reasons, not just to get a $20,000+ piece of paper that says you’re smart. 

Andrew Silver


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Former UW Student


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