My dear Undergraduate,
Firstly, let me congratulate you on taking the next step in your education. I myself am pursuing my Masters in my alma mater, and I have not regretted my decision at all. Now, in my second semester, I can’t help but to share my experiences as an undergraduate to you. Postgraduate life is different from yours, but that story is for another day.
Let me give you some pointers I wished someone else had given me 15 years ago.
You are here to learn.
Please note that I did not use the word “study”. Unlike your school days, where everything is spoonfed to you, university life is about freedom. You will get to choose your timetable, what classes to take for each semester, how and when to do your revision. But don’t limit yourself to learning only in the lecture halls or tutorial rooms. Be involved in your surroundings. Live with an open heart and mind.
Diversify your friends.
Though it’s great if you get along well with your fellow classmates, try to make friends beyond your faculty. You will discover a different point of views, find various ways to do things and interact with people who will enrich your life experience. You can do this by joining university activities, enroll in clubs that interest you and participate in programmes that expose you to surrounding communities. There is so much you can learn in class, but for me, the experience is always the best teacher.
Explore your campus.
During your first year, you will have the opportunity to stay on campus, which you can continue to do so if you are actively participating in college activities. Remember that places are limited, and competition is high, so make use of the time given to you. Find out from your seniors the best place to study, where to get the cheapest yet tasty food, and facilities your university has to offer. Live your campus life to the fullest, because you may not have the chance to so next time.
Manage your time.
There is a time to study, and there is a time to play. The art of balance is one of the key skills you need in order to survive university life. This skill will also come in handy when you leave. Have a proper timetable, a planner or an organiser, and a system. Right down important dates, deadlines, and discussions. Remember the mantra, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
You are your own disciplinarian.
Don’t worry, there won’t be a discipline teacher that will whack you if you’re late to class. But don’t be tardy. Resist the urge to sleep in and skip your morning class. Missing class means missing a chance for a face-to-face interaction with your lecturer, who may reveal tips or hints on the exam, which you won’t find in your notes.
Strive for good grades.
At the end of it all, you will be awarded a piece of paper that will determine the next course of your life. Make sure your education transcript reflects your great effort, with a multitude of A’s which proves you are an excellent student, disciplined and driven to success. Never aim for mediocracy. You were born to stand out.
After years in school, being dictated on how you should act and behave, take this opportunity to discover about yourself. Find your interests, the activities that ignite your passion for life and be among friends who are like-minded. Don’t be afraid to try new things, venture into the uncomfortable and discover what university life has to offer.
So, my dear Undergraduate. I wish you all the luck in the world, only to tell you that your life is not about luck. It is about a series of decisions and actions. You will make mistakes, but remember these setbacks will not break you. It will only make you stronger and shape the person you will become. The person you were born to be.