5 Things I wish I Did Differently in University
I have recently finished university after 6 long years. Yes, yes, 6 years is a long time. There is a whole new world waiting for me and it excited but scares the living daylights out of me too. How contradictory ae? Anyway more about that another day.
Today I want to write about what I wish I did differently in uni. I wasn’t wise enough to do all these. So hopefully, someone else can benefit from my mistakes. Just keep in mind that these are my sentiments alone and that it may not suit everyone.
1. Don’t sleep in lectures
Honestly, I slept my way through uni. I am still baffled as to how I passed. I would attend a lecture only to fall asleep within 10 minutes. Not the best idea. When exams drew closer, I would have to study as if I never attended the lecture. On hindsight, I was effectively wasting my time. I could have skipped the entire lecture, not be asleep for that duration and done something more productive. In the end, I would still have had put in the same effort to study.
Please don’t take have an epiphany from this and start skipping all your lectures. Instead, make sure you have enough sleep to stay awake during lectures. Those lectures that I did stay awake in, are the ones that I learned the most from. Alternatively, consider dropping the paper if you find yourself falling asleep in the first few lectures – if you have alternative papers to choose from.
2. Take part in more extracurricular activities
In my first year I didn’t think this was important. I had my own group of friends and lots of study to do. At the time I didn’t see the point in busying myself any further. I joined one club for the benefit of getting a mentor but got more than I bargained for; I met M.
I only started getting truly involved in extracurricular activities in my 5th year of uni. Better late than never I guess but it made me realize how much I had missed out on. It opened up a completely different side of uni. Suddenly uni was this great place to network and create experiences. It was more than a place to get educated. Taking part in extracurricular activities burst this little bubble I had created for myself. I gained new experiences, friends and confidence in myself. If I had gotten involved earlier, I think my university experience would have been more enriched and infinitely better.
3. Figure out your passion
This is probably my biggest mistake. When I enrolled for university, I picked up a double degree because:
1) I could not decide.
2) Peer pressure and family pressure.
3) The more the better right?
Looking back, when I could not decide what I was passionate about after high school, I should have taken a gap year. Taking that year to ‘find myself’ (yes, very cliche) would have changed a lot of things.
After the first year of uni I still wasn’t sure if I liked my choices. Instead of wising up I made the mistake of picking up another major. My rationale at the time was, at least I would have a range of jobs I could do after graduation. So yea, yours truly has a double degree and double major. If you would like to know my qualifications, it is Bachelor in Laws and Arts (majoring in Psychology and Media & Communication).
6 years on, I have successfully attained those qualifications and have a range of jobs to choose from. But in reality, I would like to – start my own F&B venture or work outside the legal field. I can’t say that doing the gap year would have made me realize my passion was cooking and that law was not for me. But I would like to think that it would have and allowed me to study towards the right direction. Instead of 6 years, I could have spent 3 years in uni. It is too late for the ‘what if’ for me but it isn’t for you. Meanwhile, I will find my way through this web I have weaved for myself.
4. Do crazy things with your friends
I am not crazy by nature nor are my friends. I’d like to think we are a fairly sensible bunch. Crazy for us might be, having a drink for no reason. Right, that sounds pretty lame . We have however done some pretty crazy things and sometimes, I wish we did more of it. What you do with your friends will stay with you for life. These are experiences that will forever be etched into your memory. 20 years from now, you will not think back to your uni days and reflect on those lectures you attended . You will be thinking of the time you went on that spontaneous road-trip (wish I did that) or that time your friend dared you to dance on the table at the bar and you got carried out by the bouncer.
So go out there and get crazy! Just don’t do something illegal and go to jail.
5. Get work experience
When I was in uni, grades mattered a lot to me and I figured if I had decent grades, jobs will follow. Wrong. Work experience is so important. Whether it is a part time job, internship or voluntary work – get one.
I got my first part-time job at the end of my 2nd year. I learned so much from it. Of course, an internship in your chosen field is invaluable. But really, having any amount of work experience will benefit you in so many ways. When you write up your CV, you will have something to talk about. When you score and interview, you can answer questions by relating your experience. It doesn’t matter if you were just a grocery packer, you were honing your people skills in that position!
Just a word of caution. If you think you cannot cope with work and study, then don’t. Perhaps opt for a summer job, summer internship or consider volunteering. Organizations who rely on volunteers tend to be more flexible but still allow you some useful experience.
Bottom line: You will gain invaluable experience no matter what you do.
Despite not knowing all these at the beginning, how was my uni experience? It was great! There are memories that I will always cherish and think back on fondly. You may ask, if it was great why wish I did things differently? Well, when you don’t know that something can be better, you will think that it is great; only after, can you reflect and know that it can be better. So, why not learn from my mistakes and start your uni experience with a bang.