Tips for University students
Do you ever look back on your time at University and think
“I could have done that so differently”.
My time was a bit of a rollercoaster, no doubt, yours was something similar. While I did finish my degree and achieve a decent 2:1 grade (Damn that last year!) if I could re-do it, I would do things very differently. Hindsight is something we all want, and if you are reading this article, then you are most likely a person that will benefit because you care about your life.
80/20 gets the job done ✅
The 80/20 rule, aka the Pareto principle, states 80% of the outcomes result from 20% of the inputs. For instance, 80% of an exam is based on 20% of the course content. Now don’t take this as gospel and start living life by the 80/20 principle it’s more of a useful rule to keep in mind when revising for tests or writing essays. I wouldn’t recommend using it to calculate how much alcohol you’ll have to drink to reach the perfect level of intoxication, that might take some trial and error.
Don’t fall into the deadline trap ❌
Parkinson’s law, the idea that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. It is a weird one to get your head around initially. For example, if you have a piece of coursework that should only take a couple of hours even though it has a two-week deadline, it is likely to become more unnecessarily complicated. Which, combined with the stress of thinking about the task at hand, will end up taking the two weeks allocated to complete. The idea is to set yourself strict deadlines instead of allowing a buffer period; however, you have to remember not to sacrifice quality. I recall my dad once saying that if you want to get something done fast, give it to the busiest person, today I look back and hate to admit it, he was right.
Find new and innovative ways to be more productive 📈
Lastly, I’ve recently discovered the power of touch-typing and keyboard shortcuts on my Mac. It’s a game-changer! The idea here is that every interaction you have with your laptop is faster, meaning that in the long run, you will complete tasks more efficiently. Imagine if you finished writing your notes 15 mins quicker each day. Over a week, you would have 1h 45 minutes extra time!
Get engaged — Be interested, not interesting 💭
Sitting front and centre in a lecture hall is daunting; there are hundreds of minds around you that are just as clever, if not more. However, looking back, they are all as afraid as you are to ask questions. Everyone wants to sound like an intellectual, but you’re better off with asking something simple. The likelihood is that you are not the only person in the room who wants to know the answer. Maybe start with asking one question per lecture and then increase as you get more confident, also I recommend jotting down any problems that pop into your mind, then follow them up with your lecturers. Use that tuition fee to its full extent!
If you struggle to find the right question, look ahead in the syllabus, and pull the topic of interest and make a forward connection, this will set you up in the right way.
University is a bubble so utilise the extra time ⏰
While you may be doing all-nighters in the library, and then partying until 3 am the next day, this type of lifestyle is not sustainable in the ‘real world’. There is a sense of invincibility at University. It feels like a gigantic playground, and as a result, lulls you into a false sense of reality. I would recommend finding a method of grounding yourself while you are there, i.e. remember the bigger picture and the value it is providing you so not to get caught up in the bubble.
There is a phrase that a friend of our family used, and it always resonates with me, “Don’t buy your happiness today at the expense of tomorrow. I would recommend investing in your self-development and bolstering your CV and Linked-in presence. You can do this by taking online courses on an area you are passionate about via Linkedin Learning, Coursera or Google’s Digital Garage. All the while, maintaining an up-to-date and active LinkedIn profile, will set you in good stead to get a job as a postgraduate. The proactive nature will allow you to stand out from the crowd with potential employers. While completing your degree is the main focus at University, building out your skill base and gaining knowledge in other fields means that you’re more likely to start discovering new passions. It’s not about the value it adds right away but rather the long term investment for the future that is essential
Learning never stops, so you have to play the long game!
Remember it’s a Bubble 💬, so set yourself up for success!