You’ve come so far, and for all the awesomeness that you are, you deserve to get the most out of your higher education years. So be sure to squeeze every last drop of magic juice from university life before stepping out into the adult working world.
Seek Out Seniors to Be Your Advisors
Seniors can play a significant role in helping you adjust to university life, from helping you navigate graduation requirements to giving you tips on organising your timetable. Most seniors will be eager to share their experiences and offer advice because they’ve been in your shoes and know that you can use some help.
If you don’t know anyone before entering university, start connecting! You can get to know seniors from as early as junior college or polytechnic, and it is worth keeping in touch with them. Otherwise, you can start your search at orientation camps or by joining co-curricular activities at your university.
Make An Ally Out of Your Professor
A professor is one of the strongest cohorts you can have on campus. Some may become friends, while some you may never speak to again once the course is over. But all professors are interested in one thing: that is to help you succeed—as a student, as a future professional, and as a person.
You do not need to become best buds with every professor you have. If you are interested in a specific area of study, reaching out to the person who knows it best is a great place to start. Introduce yourself and show your professors that you care about your learning by asking questions and staying engaged during your lectures. Your professors can’t be your strongest ally if they don’t know what you are trying to achieve, so you may want to share your course goals and ask them how they can help.
If you see your professor outside of class, say hi. Ask how they are doing or take it further by enquiring about their research and academic projects. Be sure to assume professionalism in all your interactions. You’ll be surprised by how these relationships can bode you well in the future if you are ever in need of career advice, mentorship, or a letter of recommendation.
There’s No Need to Plan Everything. But Plan Your Me-Time.
If anything, the pandemic times would have taught you to take a step back, relax, and not worry if things will go as planned. Overplanning your university life may just wind you up in a panic frenzy, taking you nowhere but backwards. So please go easy on organising calendars, scheduling tasks, and ticking checklists. Change things up occasionally and be quick to adapt when circumstances change.
However, if there is one thing that you must plan, it is to plan for time to unwind. It also includes unplugging your phone and detoxifying yourself from social media once in a while. You may find prioritising me-time the hardest thing to do right now. But if you do not learn how to take care of yourself now, it will be even harder to start later when you have the weight of adulthood and piling commitments on your shoulders.
Understand Your Finances
You may be a student, but that doesn’t mean you can be ignorant or irresponsible with your finances. Educate yourself about the details of your tuition bill. Know what you and your parents are paying. If you need to fund your own education, utilise your research skills to find resources available to you as a student, such as mid-term scholarships or part-time jobs. Keep track of your spending and make wise adjustments. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for student discounts everywhere.
You Don’t Have to Be Involved in Everything
There is a lot of advice out there to students highlighting the importance of participating in co-curricular activities and community service. Such experiences can indeed help students develop essential life skills and build their character, potentially also making their CVs look good.
But just because everyone else is joining a club or taking part in a trending activity does not mean that you must follow suit. Do it only because you want to, and because you care deeply about it. Otherwise, it would be a waste of your time and no fun. If you do not find an interest group you like, why not create your own? In universities like the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), the smaller cohort size allows students to have plenty of opportunities to initiate ideas, lead projects, and network.
Open Your Eyes to The People Around You
It is the people who will make your university experience complete. Starting with those closest to you: your family and friends, keep your good old support network close and never neglect them. Just because you are making new friends does not mean there is no room in your life for the old ones.
And as you study and play hard in university, don’t forget to look out for one another. Many students suffer from mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. They may act or look fine outwardly but are struggling on the inside. So keep an eye on your peers and ask searching questions. If they say they’re fine and you think they’re not, you may want to ask twice.