As I’ve officially graduated from University I can definitely say I’ve learnt a fair few things about how to survive this interesting stage of life. I think the number one thing to remember about being at University is that you are a student which means studying is the most important thing along with understanding yourself and what your passion is so that you can work towards it in your future career. Here are 10 things I’ve learnt based my personal experience as a University student over the past 4 years.
NUMBER ONE: Choose good project groups or make the most of average ones.
There will be many assessments in your degree that will probably need something to be completed by a group whom you wouldn’t have known beforehand (even though you personally think the assessment shouldn’t be done in a group anyway, but the subject coordinators think otherwise). You’re all basically strangers that rely on each other to give each other a chance at getting good marks. It’s very hard to choose a good one because you can’t tell a persons work ethic just by looking at them but a good measure is to check if they are alert in class listening to the lecturer and taking notes as well as even researching on the internet further about the material being talked about. Be observant but don’t be snobby and judgemental. If that’s not possible to choose a good group then do the best you can at your individual work as well as encouraging your group members in an average one.
It’s also important to note that communication is a key factor to the group’s success as everyone needs to be on the same page and be updated on what needs to be completed.
NUMBER TWO: Wear comfortable clothing, backpack and shoes to class.
As a fellow female, I know that once you’ve graduated from high school you cannot deny that you are excited wear something other than a uniform to class. However, you can look good without straining yourself by wearing uncomfortable clothing on a long and tiring day. In relation to this point I’d like to share a good story on my personal mistake with this as I’m not embarrassed about it anymore because well…who cares now?!
In my first year at University I wore a pair of high heels to class because I was stupid. After a few hours of walking about I ended up with horrible bleeding blisters, tripped up some stairs in the middle of a lecture while trying to get to the bathroom and crashed into the doors making a big ruckus of sound. When I came back from the bathroom I even had someone ask me if I was okay. It was incredibly embarrassing at the time but it was a lesson. DON’T WEAR HEELS TO CLASS.
I also noticed that due to wearing handbags to class which held my textbooks, notebooks and/or laptop my shoulders began to show signs of being lopsided. Solution? Buy a backpack and wear both straps evenly. Problem solved. Remember people, comfort and health!
NUMBER THREE: Keep your eyes on the prize – your GPA.
After your first year at University I can guarantee you, your excitement for attending all your classes, completing all your readings and putting 100% of your effort into completing assessments will be thoroughly worn out. But you must keep your eyes on your grade levels! I had a rough start to my degree however keeping an eye on a tangible number that showed the improvement in my studies helped keep me motivated semester after semester.
You’ll be thinking “Just a little more work on this assessment until I can bump up my grade for this subject and then my GPA will go up by 0.XX this semester.” and then you’ll be inclined to put a bit more effort into your work. It is possible and you can do it.
NUMBER FOUR: Choose to spend your time appropriately between sleeping, your social life and your study and work.
If you’ve been juggling all these thing in your life from high school, juggling them all in University will be much easier for you to handle. Due to the many changes in your schedule such as the different and irregular timetables for classes, heavier study load and also different friend circles (high school friends and University friends) it will be quite hard to prioritise them all. What you do to keep a balance between all aspects of your life is entirely up to what you feel is important to you. If your schedule gets too much for yourself, don’t force it because you’re in it for the long run. You can’t burn out within 1 year when your course goes for 4 and better yet your life goes on for many more.
In my first year at University there was an incident where a student had too much stress into his life with his internship, study and possibly many more things in his life that he took his own life as he couldn’t handle them all. I still remember that day in my lecture where the lecturer gave us a talk on stepping back from stress and seeking help. Guys, we’re all in life for the long run.
NUMBER FIVE: Take opportunities in building your CV/Resume.
Take a job or two (for general customer service experience). Apply for some internships (for more detailed industry experience). Join a club at Uni or volunteer at non-profit charities (to give back to the community and show you have a good character). Enter competitions in your subjects as many organisations approach University students to resolve problems or think up new and innovative ideas for them (although I do see it as exploitation because these ideas can become their property afterwards). For example in my second year of University my marketing group was selected to present our project idea for Microsoft Kinect. This is a prime example of what employees would see as desirable – good project ideas and big name companies acknowledging them.
NUMBER SIX: Read your subject/course outlines and assessment criteria.
The concept of reading the instructions before you do a task seems simple enough to understand but in actuality, students can at times forget to read thoroughly through the marking criteria before they complete and hand in an assessment. Those blocks of words aren’t for fun, in fact they’re not fun to read at all however they will make your life easier when you’re racking your brains out. Imagine writing a 5000 word report only to realise you only read the general instructions given to you but not the marking criteria which specifically tells you the points you need to cover. Or imagine studying a whole subject not understanding what the subject coordinators wanted you to know at the end of the course. It would pointless. So read through the requirements, highlight the main points and further clarify the requirements with the person who’s going to mark your work so you know what to give in.
NUMBER SEVEN: Know the help that is given to students by the student centre and at the library.
As my University career progressed I realised I was disadvantaged by the fact that I didn’t understand what tools were available for me to use. I didn’t know how to work the journal databases until a tutor who didn’t collate the articles on our subject resources website (like the previous tutors of mine had done) mentioned that they were available through different databases. Ask a Librarian about how to utilise the library resources to research including how to read an article properly as well as how to referencing it too because it will be essential for the completion of your degree.
Also, life has it ways of giving you surprises when you least expect it but that doesn’t mean the University doesn’t acknowledge your hardships and their effect on studies. If you do experience difficulties such as a family member passing away or other traumatising situations, you are able to seek counselling on campus as well as applying for special consideration to be taken into account by those grading you. I personally could have applied for consideration for about 3 separate times in my career as a student but only ended up applying once. In retrospect I probably should have applied those other 3 times as well because I was just forcing myself to suck it up and just study through it all – I knew I could have done better.
NUMBER EIGHT: Eat better. Fast food and unhealthy snacks aren’t the only type of food available.
So you’re rushing to class right after your class at 12PM and haven’t got a chance to eat lunch yet. What can you do? Lucky you brought a bag of chips from home to sustain you. Bad choice buddy. I, for one, have been supremely guilty of these bad choices of choosing to skip lunches or eat quick unhealthy snacks just so my stomach wouldn’t protest anymore. With all the stress you may be under from relationships, study and part-time work on the side, the last thing you want to do is screw up your body even more. I broke out so much from hormonal changes due to this bad combination of stress and crappy foods.
Pack a banana (although don’t eat it in public and make eye contact), a muesli bar, some almonds or if you’re very bothered you can cut up some carrots, cucumber and celery sticks with some dip. And bring water, I found out the hard way what not drinking enough water can do the body (cue headaches and bad skin).
NUMBER NINE: Keep a diary/planner or calendar to regularly mark out your timetables and due dates.
With all the different due dates and things to do every day for class and group projects, a diary planner or calendar would be perfect to keep track of things. For me, writing down all the things I need to do in a diary is almost 50% of the work done because I know I will complete the task if I can plan for when it needs to be finished. And also, you can choose some cute planners to help brighten up your day when you see the list of things you need to do haha.
NUMBER TEN: Travel and experience the world because you won’t realise how much free time you have as a student than a full-time worker until it’s gone!
Last but not least, have some fun and make some memories at Uni and with your friends. Go on holidays (whether near or far) with your crew and catch up with them often because I’ve realised those who have full-time jobs barely have time to catch up with themselves. A holiday will require extensive planning and applying for leave from work. For a student it’s so much easier to be spontaneous and so it should be as I believe that at the end of your life it’s not so much the material things you think about but the fun memories you created with those important to you.
Be young, free and have at it! 😀
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