With so much freedom and a total change of lifestyle, university offers a student a mindblowing array of benefits. You can shape everything to suit yourself.
Of course, there’s a huge danger in that. The gifts are only positive if you’re able to use them to your advantage. Abuse your gifts and you risk taking a step backwards. Be aware of the following 10 gifts and what to be aware of when handling them:
1. You can choose when you want to do your work
BUT…You risk never doing it. And if you do get on with it, you may not have a focus on how much work is needed.
SO…Start as early as you can and get writing your todo lists. It’s no good giving 24 hours to random work. Have a plan that focuses your mind and break it down so you don’t have to do everything in one go.
2. You can choose how much time to spend on a project
BUT…You may try to rush it, or underestimate the amount of time needed to complete the task.
SO…Use some of your free time to keep things ticking over. And take account of any wasted time in between lectures and seminars…it’s perfect for getting another bit of that task completed. Always make the most of your entire day.
3. You aren’t fixed to a particular study area like your were in school
BUT…You could end up having no study area to speak of. Instead of sitting down somewhere and starting on something, you risk having no sense of working surroundings.
SO…Highlight certain places that you consider possible study areas. For instance, if you use a part of the library as a recreation/leisure area, seek out a different part of the library that can act as your study area.
4. You aren’t pushed by tutors in the same way teachers pushed you
BUT…It’s what many of us are used to. When the pushing stops, it no longer feels important. It’s like a switch has turned off. You either don’t know how to crack on, or you can’t be bothered to try so hard.
SO…Look forward to adapting. You probably didn’t like having a teacher breathing down your neck…so now you don’t have it, why be unhappy? Imagine your favourite teacher giving you that moral support and guiding you to where you need to be. Keep an eye on yourself for procrastination and don’t be afraid to see your tutors when you do need some help and advice. Finally, remember to set effective goals to help you focus.
5. You can concentrate on what interests you
BUT…It might be to the detriment of some of the less savoury topics/modules that you’re required to complete.
SO…By all means enjoy yourself, but give a thought to the overall effect and importance of the work. You’ll be far from happy if your grades don’t reflect how much fun you had. Take the rough with the smooth…explore the less interesting avenues and you might just find yourself developing a liking. Some topics may simply be an acquired taste. Think about Point 4 above and push yourself.
6. You have the freedom to have as much fun as you want
BUT…Taking it for granted is too easy. Fun may be ALL you end up having. When things go wrong further down the line, you’ll be having no fun at all.
SO…Do you studying and reward yourself later. Don’t spend weeks dreading the start of that essay…as soon as you’re given the task, give 20-30 minutes of your time each day to building up a fantastic start. Later down the line, you’ll have less to dread, and more time for fun. This article in Zen Habits will help you make the most of work and play at the same time for 2008.
7. You have the scope to develop through clubs, societies, campaigning, sports, the list goes on
BUT…Too many hobbies and you risk losing focus on your main interests. And too much extra-curricular involvement could impact upon your study.
SO…Keep it to a manageable level. Fresher’s Fair is designed to get you joining up to all sorts of weird and wonderful societies. You may think it’s good to join half of them, but it’s a wasted economy and it dilutes your time until you have no more time at all. Keep it under control and stay dedicated to a select few interests. Make a timetable of what you’re doing and keep track of how much time is needed for everything you do.
8. You’re given the tools for independent thought and encouraged to let those ideas flow
BUT…You may prefer to be told what to do. You may be expecting to be given the answers. Unless you have the passion and interest, you may begrudge the independent thought.
SO…It’s time to realise that university doesn’t work that way. It’s up to you to do the research and it’s up to you to decide how you feel about your subject. Both arts and sciences require you to use what’s there and make something wonderful from it. The power is yours. Grasp it in both hands and enjoy the freedom!
9. You have enormous scope to network
BUT…If you network too much, you’ll soon be weighed down with hundreds of social webs, thousands of invitations and millions of e-mails. And not always from people you even know.
SO…Be selective; there’s plenty time for branching out further when you know where things are going. Before that, do your research. Network with a purpose, not just so you’ve got the most ‘friends’ (I use the term loosely in this respect, because nobody has more than a select group of very close friends). Unless you’re looking to win a high-profile Student Union election, it’s not worth trying to be all things to all people. If you are trying to win that election, you can try to be all things, so long as you remember you aren’t really that!
10. You are given full independence from Day One
BUT…That means you’re entirely responsible for your mistakes! There isn’t as much scope to find other things to blame. Surely that’s not fair!?
SO…Be wise in your independence. You don’t need telling twice that you’re an adult now. In fact, you don’t need telling once. While the temptation may be there to use your independence as a chance of total liberation, don’t go too mad. There’s a good kid…erm, I mean adult! 😉
Independence is about responsibility. If you’re not responsible, you’ll soon be more dependent than you ever were.