Studies

3 things I wish I knew before starting university

by Gabriel Ong // July 16, 2018, 8:08 pm

Uni

It’s that time of the year again – university term is starting. Some of you are beginning a 3 to 4 year journey of college education, for the rest, it’s a brand new semester.

Well, whether you’re a freshman or a senior, one thing remains true: The time will be up sooner than you think. As someone whose 4 years could have been better spent,  this is written with one hope only – that you don’t waste that time.

So in the spirit of the article, I’m not about to waste more of your time. Maybe those who’ve gone before me have even more advice to give, but here are my 3 tips to save time.

3 TIPS TO SAVE TIME

1. YOU CAN’T ATTEND EVERY SINGLE CAMP

I’m gonna be honest with you: Not every camp will be worth your time. Many will offer to teach you things like how to bid for modules, or where stuff is, but really … You can learn that online. Another thing you can do online – do some research on what various camps are like.

This is a personal peeve, but camps somehow have the potential to devolve into poorly-disguised mini-games simulating kissing or other suggestive activities. Forced mingling is awkward as it is, but if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with people you’ve just met – I’ve seen how difficult it is to just walk away.

I did a quick poll with a few friends, and more often than not, we know now that O-Week friends don’t last. When it’s time to pick modules you’ll have to make new ones anyway — only this time without the pretend-kissing and/or influence of alcohol.

So pick wisely. Know why you’re signing up for a camp – and don’t feel pressured to either!

2. WORK ON YOUR WORK ETHIC

I had the worst work ethic throughout most of my university life. The freedom of picking arts courses compounded the problem of my indiscipline. Didn’t like a class? Skip it. Prof boring? Skip! Too early? Skip!

My ala carte attitude towards modules and lessons made for an awful attitude towards courses — which made for an awful attitude towards life in general. Things became about me. Did I like doing it? Was it convenient for me?

I took the general sense of entitlement and pick-and-choose spirit into my work outside of school and my friendships, and I paid high prices for that sort of attitude. It took a lot of time to unlearn, and a lot of painful days in the working world before I saw how damaging my laissez-faire university lifestyle had been.

What if you took university as practice for work? What if you worked on making your skills excellent, and your work ethic impeccable? Stepping into the working world might be easier by virtue of hard work in an internship or attachment. Either way, you’ll thank yourself for developing the right attitude and skill-sets to take into the workforce.

3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK “SO WHAT”

I think it’s largely fair to say that by the time I reached Year 4, most of my batch-mates were either just waiting to get out or enjoying life before work. By midway through most of us had read hundreds of works and written dozens of papers. The sheer volume of literature we were wading through week after week left me disillusioned.

What was the point of it all? Who really cares about this stuff? Does it really matter?

Some works change you, leave a lasting and profound impact on the way you think and read. Those are great. But for every 1 of those pieces you get maybe 9 more meh ones that just leave you feeling kinda scared. Scared that you’ll spend your life on something that ultimately doesn’t matter. Like reading or writing fluff.

Often the mundanity of my schoolwork in university awakened me to the idea that there must be more than this. And that was the best lesson I took from the dozens of modules I chalked up: Don’t waste your life.

Maybe, you’re thinking that I just didn’t have a good experience — that’s why I’m so salty. Well, you might be right, I’m certainly open to the idea that I got my university experience wrong.
But the one thing I got right was to question what I really wanted out of all of it. Was I just chasing a scroll? Was it just for a job? Was entering a local university just a matter of fact, or the logical next thing to do?

The points of pointlessness in my journey got me asking the hard questions, but the hard questions led to solid places for why I do what I do. If university is a place where one quests for knowledge, then let your quest lead you to a grand purpose in life.

Die well. There’s infinitely more to all of it.

About the author

Gabriel Ong

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.