When you start university, it feels like the three years ahead of you will last forever, and when older students, faculty members or parents tell you that you'll be done before you know it, you are there thinking that they can't possibly be right. However, whether we want it or not, student years do go by really fast, so here are four ways to make them as worthwhile as possible.
Choose modules that interest you
While in first year you may mostly have compulsory classes, the number of optional classes you can take will increase as you progress through your undergraduate degree, and even though you may be initially drawn to classes that seem the easiest, be that because there is no final exam, the amount of reading is lighter, or because you want to sleep in on Monday morning, this may not be beneficial in the long-term.
The best thing about leaving high school and going to university is the freedom of choosing what you want to study and picking the classes you want to take (or at least some of them). Therefore, don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover what fields and subjects you are most interested in by going for the ‘easy’ classes rather than the more challenging but interesting ones
Take your studying seriously…
Higher education is very much based on the concepts of independent study and independent learning, that is, a relatively limited amount of classes that should however be complemented with a significant amount of reading at home. Even the best students are guilty of falling behind on readings once in a while but, as a general rule, make sure you attend your classes and tutorials (not just the compulsory ones).
Doing more than just the bare minimum will not only expand your knowledge and perspectives, it will also enable you to build more personal relationships with your professors and tutors. Professors will be more likely to engage and pay attention to someone who is genuinely interested in their subject and is interested in growing intellectually, compared to someone who simply needs a class approved or wants a good grade. In turn, this will come in handy if, when you are graduating, you need reference letters to apply for jobs or graduate school, or even if you simply want to keep in touch because you are interested in their fields.
…but be involved on campus as well!
If you don’t find your classes stimulating, or if you feel like university is just ‘something you need to get through’ in order to get a degree, then you might want to consider becoming more active in campus life by joining clubs and societies. This should help you feel more integrated and in turn, improve your experience.
You’re now probably thinking about that time when you attended your university’s Freshers’ Fair and signed up to a million different societies, and promised you’d show up to a bunch of different meetings, but then ended up losing interest and dropping a few activities in the process. And that’s okay! It takes time to figure out how many extracurriculars you can fit into your schedule. Plus, university is the perfect place to try out new things, dropping the activities you realise aren’t right for you but sticking to the ones that you see some potential in.
However, it is important that you think about this process carefully, and you make sure to stick to two or three activities or clubs that you really care about. Why? Here are the three main reasons:
- Having extracurricular activities on your CV immediately makes your profile more attractive to employers. Involvement on campus means two things: Commitment and proactivity, two qualities that any sensible employer would want in his or her employee.
- By being involved in clubs and societies you will develop incredible soft skills such as teamwork, planning, and compromise, which are transferable to any job or career path.
- Last but not least, by being part of a team, you will meet new amazing people from different courses and faculties, build new friendships, and have fun!
Consider studying abroad
There isn’t a more perfect time to get out of your comfort zone, travel, and get to know a new country and culture than at university. A great way to do this is by spending a semester (or a year) abroad. Most universities offer a wide range of partner institutions in different countries across the world where you can study as part of your degree. This will give you not only the opportunity to learn about a different education system and maybe learn a new language (which is a huge bonus when applying for jobs and internships!), but also to meet people and make friends from all over the world.
Your years as a student are a fantastic experience, which you can make even better by following some of our tips! All in all, by focusing on studying but also getting involved in different activities, expanding your interests, experiencing different cultures and seeing new places, you'll be sure to make memories that last a lifetime.