Things I Wish I Knew Before University
University is the last leg of our long education journey. It is the beginning of adulthood for us, and the reality of an independent, working life awaits us beyond at the end of these 4 years.
It is important to make the best out of our University life, both academically and socially. It is hard to strike the right balance, especially in the highly competitive and kiasu society that we live by here in Singapore. From overcrowded libraries and Starbucks outlets, drunken nights and hungover morning lectures. The much dreaded bell-curve that could make or break you and it doesn’t seem like a pretty four years ahead.
Now that I’m coming to the end of my studies, here are 10 things I wish I knew before I entered university.
Photo Stream: Zai Muhd Navorski
1. Stay in School. Literally.
Enjoy the full University experience and stay in school! As many of us are so pampered in Singapore, start your adulthood by living independently on your own. Cleaning your room, buying your own groceries, going out for late night suppers and studying with your friends… These sum up to give you a life-changing and fulfilling experience.
You’ll meet lifelong friends, and perhaps even potential life-partners, if you know what I mean.
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2. Attend Orientation
As lame as it sounds, attending your faculty orientation camp is a must. For those who think this is a gathering for nerds and losers, you’re so terribly wrong. You’ll meet a bunch of friends and seniors who will help you (and save you) throughout the next few years of your life.
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3. Say No To 8am Lectures
You will have the freedom of planning and arranging your timetable according to your schedule and how you like it. This is something new for you so it is a massive tip. Planning 8am lectures and thinking to yourself “oh I think it’s great to start the day early anyway” is the biggest mistake you will ever make, even more so if you stay in school. Trust me, I learnt the hard way.
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4. Work and Save Money
It’s about time to be financially independent. Since you can plan your own timetable, try to slot in a few hours of work a week to earn that bit of extra cash and pocket money. It also doesn’t make sense to splurge hundreds of dollars on alcohol-laden nights, when you can save up and perhaps treat yourself to a year-end trip around Europe.
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5. Buy (and sell) 2nd-hand Textbooks
There’s no point in buying books that you’ll need for 6 months and puts you off about $300. Buy your books online on your school portal, you can get books in relatively good condition and perhaps even some important notes handwritten in it. You can sell your stuff the same way once you’re done and get a few bucks back.
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6. Plan Your Exam Schedule Wisely
Exam dates for every module are released at the beginning of each semester, so don’t be a Smart Alec and take modules where you have 2-3 exams a day. Try to space out your exam dates to one every two to three days ideally, unless you really don’t have a choice. Also, it’s damn sian to see your friends partying and enjoying while you’re still slugging it out two weeks after everyone has already finished.
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7. Get To Know Your Lecturers
As intimidating as they may seem, lecturers are actually really nice people, they are always willing to help, and they are also still humans after all. It’s good to make your presence known and for them to notice you, it shows that you actually care. They are the ones giving you the grades and the ones who can give you extra help and tips, so why not?
Photo Source: SMU
8. Plan For Exchange
Another fulfilling experience that University life offers is the opportunity to attend Overseas Exchange Programs! What could be better than to go to a foreign country, embrace and learn their culture, study and make friends, all with only a pass/fail grade? You may end up writing a blog about how you spent 6 months in USA and had the time of your life. Like Joshua.
Here’s a tip – plan your modules from the first semester, get a good GPA and apply early. Oh, and getting to know your lecturers and professors would help you a whole lot here as well.
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9. Manage Your Time
You will find that you are always pressed for time. This triangle speaks for itself.
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10. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Have fun while you still can.
Life proper starts after this, and you’ll feel a strong sense of nostalgia when it’s finally time to graduate. These are the last few years of your life when you can still make mistakes, mess around and still get away with shit, the last few summers where you can just bum around, do nothing or travel, and ultimately, the last time you’ll actually be in a school environment.
So, embrace it, love it, and be prepared for a life-changing roller-coaster ride ahead.
Photo Source: SMU