Quest is one of the most unique universities in Canada. We do things a little differently here. We put an emphasis on interdisciplinary education and collaboration, and providing every student with the tools they need to be able to think outside of the box. This is wonderful and breeds intense creativity and incredibly interesting “majors”, but it can also be a little difficult.
Because of our unique learning platform we get presented with crazy cool classes like “The Hive and the Honeybee”, “Evolution”, “The Art of the Book”, “What is Life?”, and “Poets and Philosophers”, just to name a few, and the challenge becomes this; how do you take advantage of all these cool classes and still maintain some sort of “focus” for your Question?
Now I’m sure there are many different ways of going about this, and I can only speak from my experience, but I hope I can still offer some insights.
For reference, my question (the equivalent of my “major”) is “What is the nature of Olive Oil?”. I love my question, and I think that is my first piece of advice—try and design a question that you really truly love from all possible angles and that you can see yourself exploring for the next two years of your degree.
I love my question because it has allowed me to take classes that range from Organic Chemistry; Tectonics of Western North America (where we actually spent a day at an olive grove and mill in Hopland California); Classics in the Aegean ( I get to travel to Athens for school!); and Triumph and Tragedy (a class I designed myself that focused on the Greek tragedies and Virgils Aeneid). Quest gives you all the freedom you can handle, and you just have to take decide what to do with that freedom. And that would be my second word of advice—take advantage of our interdisciplinary education! I can almost guarantee that most people that come here do not know what they want to do when they first show up, and the only way you will find out is by getting out of your comfort zone a little and trying new things.
Lots of people ask me, “well thats all super cool and all, and it seems like you are enjoying yourself, but olive oil? What are you going to do with a degree where your undergraduate thesis is about olive oil and you have taken a super eclectic bundle of classes?” This is a fair question—what I am going to do once I graduate? Well, anything really. Because of the way I have designed my undergrad, I have tons of possibilities in front of me. For example, I am going to have all the prerequisites I need if I wanted to go into naturopathic medicine, something I am super interested in. I will also have most of the prerequisites to get into a Classic program, although I will need to touch up my ancient Greek and Latin. I could also go into geology and mineralogy, because believe it or not, I have most of what I need for those degrees, or get a job at a laboratory, or really anything I want to make fit. Maybe I won’t want to head straight into a Masters, maybe I will get a full time position at the olive mill I hope to work at from my “experiential learning”, or maybe I will travel and WWOOF at an olive grove in Greece or Italy.
That is the beauty of Quest. We don’t come out with just a degree, we come out with experiences and drive and connections. We come out of here with the knowledge that if you work hard enough and apply yourself, you can get stuff done. We know how to handle stress (hello stats class with 12+ hours of group work and homework and reading every single night for 3.5 weeks straight). We know how to collaborate (my official mentor is a geologist but you can frequently find me chatting and taking advice from a philosopher and an art historian). We know how to be curious and how to go about finding answers to our own questions. Heck, we can even give you the latin name for that weird coastal BC plant.
I am so happy with my decision to come to this wonderful little school in the mountains. Quest is really what you make it. You can try and build yourself into a little box and just take courses so that you can come out of here with a set of prerequisites for a Masters, but that really isn’t what this place is about. That being said, many students come out of Quest with the necessary skills to excel at a Masters or PhD program. 40% of our grads have already done or are in a Masters or PhD program, and we have a 96.4% employment rate, with 51.7% of those alumni are employed in an area related to their Question.
So I guess my final word of advice is this—take that weird sounding class you are super interested in even if you don’t think it will relate to your question. You never know—it could become the class that helps define your experience here.