In honor of school-time and growth, here is a list of twelve things students in university, pursuing any type of degree, should be doing. Side-note, this is going to be a long post. Get your cup of tea, coffee, crumpets and reading eyes handing. Leggo.
1. Use the Library resources to borrow books
We all use the library to study and get away from the community noise. But, do we use it to borrow books? I mean...you know, for class. Before buying the books you need, peek-and-poke around your university library to see if they carry the book(s). And if you attend a school in a large city, visit your public library. This can save you a ton of money and expose you to a world of undiscovered novels....that you should read after you've finished school responsibilities, ofcourse. it's pretty easy to forget what is around you. BUT, if you are limited on funds (like moi), yet need to get your readings in check for class (like moi....again), you are gently hit with the reminder of "oh....yeah, the library...let me check that out".
2. Speak up
You have a voice! Use it! And make no mistake of it, I am also speaking to myself when I write this. I too am a very very very shy person and I tend to gravitate towards writing out my ideas rather than verbalizing them. And while writing is great, and having your thoughts on paper is great, there will come a time...well, there will come a couple of instances where you will have to speak up- ie. class presentations, standing up for yourself (this is when your voice is crucial), etc. It's important to do and something I personally believe everyone, regardless of university attendance or not, should acquire. No one is going to speak what's on your mind. That's your responsibility. Own it.
3. Ask questions
It is said that 'no question is a stupid question'. And if you are serious about asking your question, the saying is very true. Sure, a professor or two could just say that to warm-up the class a bit, and sometimes they mean it, and, well...sometimes they don't. #truth. Bottom line is, you don't know everything, so just ask! I've had my fare share of this lesson as an undergrad and as a graduate student, I'm still learning. That's why asking is something I do on the regular. For example- I am the type of person who needs to be early for x amount of reasons. So, for my first class this week, I saw I was the only person standing in the hallway five minutes before class was to begin. I was a tad....confused. Quickly I ran up to my department's main office and asked them about the setting of said-class. Turns out, I was in the correct space and that five minutes before class is sometimes too early. Noted. Now I know better...because I asked.
4. Meal Prep
Meal prepping should become your one-day-a-week to-do ritual in university. When I started this task as an undergrad in my last year, I knew it was a ritual I could never abandon. This action will have you do three things- save money (one), build your kitchen skills (two) and save a ton of time you can now use for your studies! (three). Get yourself some tupperware then portion and record your meals. It's perfect. You don't have to think about what you plan to eat every other day and there'd be no reason to spend your precious coins on an expensive lunch down the road from classes (I know, the temptation is real). One day per week. Just one day! The other six days of your week, and your pocket, will thank you.
5. Frugal > Opulent
Let's be honest, university is expensive. You can start off with one-hundred dollars the first of September, and by the seventh of that month you are left with two quarters and a nickel. And there are reasons for this depletion- food, bedding, new converses.... it happens. But... the best habit to adopt in university is penny-pinching and budgeting. No, I'm not saying do not go out, do not have a great time, do not buy that necklace you've been eyeing for the past three months- that's not what I'm saying. Be smart about your purchases and be aware of the prices you confront. Maybe the eggs and honey at Trader Joes are cheaper than the ones at Whole Foods (listen...I'm not throwing shade, just typing the #truth. I still love my Whole foods though). Make smarter purchases, plan for bigger purchases, and if you want to invest in something typically pricy, invest well.
I'll be the first to say that this one is my least favorite. Again....I am a pretty-shy-invrotert who enjoys meeting new people organically. But, I am glad to say I've come to adopt the one technique successful to networking. You can say this takes us three steps back to number three...asking questions. Specifically, asking questions about the other person. It's no secret everyone loves to talk about themselves...the good parts anyway. So, get on the person's good side and ask follow-up, after follow-up, after follow-up. Sometimes you wouldn't even have to follow-up three times because the chain-of-glory will just flow from the person speaking. Also, do not ask, just-to-ask. Be genuine about it. Try and decipher your interests within their accomplishments and dig deep on that. What is this person saying that grabs your interest? Be subtle yet strategic about it. The person gets to talk about themselves, and you get to listen to what interests you!
7. Stay. In. Your. Lane.
First off, this is a life lesson. The destruction of happiness is comparison. This saying is saturated with so much truth. Staying in your lane and going at your own pace without comparison and jealously is honestly hard for a number of people. It is imperative to understand that everyone has his or her own path. You may not be the best test taker and you may not be the greatest essay writer, but If you want to get better at the two actions, you're going to have to practice. Don't sit and pout and frown upon those who are in their own lanes. It will steal the joy and good times of your university years, along with the years to come. If staying-in-your-lane hasn't been a practice for you in the earlier years, let it be a practice-turned-habit now.
8. Plan Weekly
There are two material things that should ultimately become your best friends in university. A planner and a calendar. Stay ahead of your tasks, be it for school, work, hang-outs or vacation. Take a day of the week and plan out your tasks. This is slightly easier to do while in school because there are set due dates for your studies- essays, finals, midterms, the whole bit. Annotate important tasks in your planner and set reminders in your calendar. Yes, your life will be more structured but you'll have so much less to worry about!
9. Join & Practice
There is something we all love to do. Some may find that love in university and some may find it years after. Dabble in a few areas of hobbies. Yoga, ice-skating, drawing, writing, the list continues. The best way to do this is to join a club and practice it's activity. It's a great way to meet new people, make amazing friends, and hone a new hobby.
10. Grow your vocabulary and pick your language
No, you won't be a snob but it will enhance your way of communication to professors and expand your audiences. The easiest way to do this is to read. Read read READ! It's inevitable and with the amount of books you need for class, it's definitely doable. Broadening your way of speech is beneficial to students and staff alike. When this happens, you will begin to see where and how words derive and from this, you are able to choose which growth fits with your way of speech. You will soon find as a university student, where people stand through the way they speak and their choice of words. Plus, now you can understand the type of language professors are speaking these days!
11. Take good care of yourself
This has to be the most important advice for all the students out there. You, your sanity and your health, all in one, come first. Everything else is secondary. Too many a time students feel they are not up to the challenge and in effect make permanent decisions they can not turn back to. Make sure you are doing well. Call a friend or family if you are a student out of your city feeling homesick, or take a walk to clear your mind! Check-in with yourself on a month-to-month basis and understand your goals and drive in pursuing your degree. Relax and have yourself the 'me-time' you deserve. Spend it however you please- read a novel, write in your journal, paint...your time is for you and your wellbeing. Always remember that.
12. Enjoy these years
This should go without say. These years of university can be great or it can be not-so-great. Choose the first! Be active in making your university experience a great one. Sure, there will be bumps on the road and yes, not every moment will be glamorous. But that all contributes to the beauty of your experience! Learn from your mistakes, make a lesson out of the good and bad events, and take each day one step at a time. You are going to do great!
Let us know if there are any other tips you adhere to while attending university!