I am starting my final semester of university today. I’m a little older than the typical senior, but due to circumstances in my life, it has taken me 8 years instead of 4 to get to this point. I’ve learned a lot these past eight years, especially about myself, what I want in life, and how to be successful in a post secondary environment. Today I am sharing five tips for surviving your university (or college) years, and how to be successful too. And if you’re not in school anymore (lucky!) I think that these tips can also apply to your career or anything you set out do in life.
Be prepared. Does anyone else have the song from The Lion King stuck in their head now? One of the most important things you can to survive your university years is to be prepared. You will always know exactly when your tests are, when your papers are due, and what you need to read before each class. Unless it’s a pop quiz (which I’ve never had), your professors will never surprise you with a new assignment. I cannot stress how important it is to do your required reading, especially if you are an English major like me. It may sound like a no brainer, but I used to be a pretty lazy student, and my grades definitely reflected it. I think it’s also important to be prepared for your day in general. Try getting up a little earlier, have a good breakfast, and leave earlier than you need to so you’re not rushing to class. Having extra time in the mornings will help you to be calm and ready for your day.
Avoid distractions. As much fun as it can be to spend more time with your new friends, catching up with your favourite Instagram accounts or binge watching your new obsession on Netflix they will not help you when it comes to studying. After you’ve set aside specific time to study, whether it’s going over notes for Bio or reading chapters for your English Lit class, distractions will not help you be your best. If you make time for your studies, whether it’s to read the crazy amounts required as an English major, or to study for your Chemistry midterms, you will be much more successful than if you let every single distraction take up your attention. Trust me, I am the queen of procrastination and will usually jump at any distraction.
Take a break. I know I just said to avoid distractions, but sometimes you need to embrace it. Don’t spend all your time at school, or thinking about classes or studying for that super important midterm. Make sure you make time to go out, to spend time with friends, or catch up with Mindy Lahiri and the rest of the gang at Shulman & Associates. Having time away from your studies will help you to be refreshed and ready to tackle that essay or lab report.
Be realistic. When you first start university, it can be easy to think that five classes a semester will be no problem. For a lot of people it isn’t, but for me it was. I realized quickly that I couldn’t handle it, and I had to go to four classes, then three, and then none for a year and a half (I’ll talk more about that next week). Don’t focus on what you need to do to graduate in your first few semesters. Though it’s important to be aware of that future goal, you should focus on what you can do to be successful in the courses you are taking, and if that means you take fewer classes, then that’s okay.
Enjoy it. Above all, if you are going to survive university or college, whether you finish in two years or eight, you should enjoy it. You will likely not enjoy every class, or every professor, or every assignment, but you can focus on the things you do enjoy. When scheduling my courses, I would always try to pick one class I knew I would love so I had something to look forward to, especially when I had to take Theory and hated every second of it. And this probably goes without saying, but don’t pick a major that you hate. I will never understand why people choose to do something that they don’t enjoy just because it will make them money. Don’t listen to people who tell you that having an Arts degree will get you nowhere in life. Lauren Graham has a Bachelor’s degree in English, so not all of us will be working at McD’s.
I will definitely be taking my advice this semester, as I definitely want it to be my last, but I don’t want to suffer through it either.
What things did you do that helped? Do you find that these tips help you outside of a school environment too?