Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

These girls are still hitting the books

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Dec 02/05) - It's a big jump from high school to university.

Sara Simons and Maggie O'Neill have come to that realization.

Both Thomas Simpson school graduates earned the Governor General bronze academic medal. Both are also adjusting to life at esteemed post-secondary institutions.

Simons is in her second year at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where she is pursuing a degree in physical education. Some of her classes have upwards of 300 students, which is more people than the entire student body at Thomas Simpson school. It's definitely not as personal an atmosphere as it was in Fort Simpson, she noted.

"You don't have anyone riding on you to tell you 'Finish this and do that.' They really don't care if you do or not," she said, adding that university professors generally don't even know most students by name.

Over on the east coast, O'Neill, who is enroled at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, often retreats to the library for silence and solitude so she can concentrate on her studies. She is living in residence with three roommates.

"There's always so much going on," she said. "You get distracted easily."

Simons and O'Neill devote many hours of their time to their course material, much of which comes from dense text books and lectures.

"You have to do a lot of reading and a lot of notes," said O'Neill, who is striving to attain a forensics diploma. "The workload is big."

Neither O'Neill nor Simons is working part-time, nor have they signed up for any extra-curricular activities. They are finding some time to get some exercise in the gym at least.

"So I don't go nuts," O'Neill said, chuckling. "I had a little problem balancing it out at first but I think I've got it pretty down-pat now."

These are some of the hurdles they must overcome to have a chance in their chosen fields. Their programs both entail four years of study, although Simons is planning to get her masters degree, which would require another two and a half years of sacrifice.

On the upside, university students can choose interesting elective courses, said Simons.

"It's fun too. Next year I get to go into cadavers and actually look at the human body. I'm very, very excited," she said. "It makes it so much easier to learn material when you're interested in it."