Yesterday I had the rather daunting privilege of going along to chat to a group of school-leavers about the impending doom of their University careers (JOKE! I PROMISE!). I knew they had questions to ask someone who was not an expert, but someone a little further along the path who survived and loved Uni, and I also wanted to draw on the experience and infinite wisdom of some of my friends who had been through Uni as well. This all made for great conversation and I ended up learning things, too. Some of the friends’ advice was just too good to go unpublished, so I thought I’d share the top 7 golden nuggets with you:
1. University is a great challenge AND a great opportunity.
2. These are some of the most formative years of your life which will set patterns and lay foundations which last a lifetime.
3. A year (or 3, 4) is a blink of an eye and such an opportunity to broaden horizons if one is not certain of their course (also – is anyone ever certain about their course choice?!). (NB: controversial advice? I think he means that it is OK if you don’t decide to go into a career directly linked with your degree course – enjoy broadening your horizons and trying out new things anyway!)
4. You may never have more free time in your life so invest it well!
5. If you are still deciding on a course, make sure you choose something you enjoy to lead to a career that you will love.
6. Connect with people on Facebook before going.
7. Embrace uni to the full – join clubs, engage with other students.
My 2 cents are:
You may feel like this is a preparatory stage, but actually – you are changing the world through how you live NOW. Yes, you are learning a trade or deepening your knowledge of a particular subject, but you are not living in an incubator. Life does NOT begin after these 3 or 4 years at uni. It has already begun, and you are living it. You have choices to make and the person you want to be needs to be the person you are BEING now.
Remember that you are privileged – every country has a different percentage of people who attend university, but in the UK, you are amongst 36% of young people. Make the most of that. Get out of bed. Go to your lectures. Study hard. Do well on your assignments. Honour the privilege.
And lastly, one that makes people laugh: relationships at uni! When you get to uni, you realise that there are, indeed, many fish in the sea. You don’t need to date/”go for coffee” with every good-looking, similarly-interested, quite bright, fairly humorous fish you encounter on your swim. Set standards and stick to them. It’ll make for less bubbles (which aren’t great for fish, or you).