Things I wish I knew…
University is an amazing journey, filled with twists, turns, discoveries, laughs, adventure… And the odd night out with your friends.
But, while university can undoubtedly be an amazing experience, it isn’t without its challenges and not-so-great times.
These are some tips to make those difficult times not as difficult, and some of the things I wish I knew while at university. They have been grouped into ‘Life’ and ‘Course’. The ‘Course’ category is aimed at helping with your degree/masters/doctorate/whatever qualification you are undertaking, while the ‘Life’ category is aimed at helping with everything in between.
So here goes.
1. At the start of each year and term, write out when all your coursework/exams are due, ideally on something like a wall calendar (I didn’t have one so made one on Word and stuck it on my wardrobe door). It meant that I could plan my revision a little ahead of time and I avoided the meltdown my friends were having when it came to deadlines.
2. Find out what works for you as early as possible. Some people do better by focusing solely on one project for a short length of time, while others do better by focusing on a few things, but for a much longer length of time. Some people like listening to the information, while others prefer reading it, doing something with it, or a combination. There will be so many people giving you their advice (myself included), but it is important to realise that no one is the same and to do things YOUR way!
3. Do the hardest thing first! Bite the bullet and just get it done – you’ll feel so much better afterwards. And set yourself a time-restricted deadline (e.g. ‘I will get X done by 11am’, or ‘I will spend 2 hours on Y’), this will keep you more motivated because you know it won’t last forever. I don’t recommend doing this for more than 2 hours though – this is meant to be the hardest part of your day – not the whole day.
4. Establish a fun and healthy habit. This may be meditating every morning; going out for a walk at lunchtime; doing yoga in the evening; eating a healthy dinner; going to a gym class… You’ll thank me later. The rules are:
a) It must be enjoyable.
b) Start small. For example, if you’ve never meditated before, then sitting for 20 minutes might be a bit difficult, and you risk not sticking with this new habit. Whereas if you start by meditating for 3 minutes for 2 weeks, then 5 minutes, then 10, you’re much more likely to succeed.
c) Try and do it as often as you can. For example, meditating can be a daily habit, whereas going to a gym class is more physically exhausting, so you’ll want to make it a weekly habit (start with 1 or 2 times a week, then go up from there).
5. Beware of your thoughts. This is a huge topic that might be better explained if I show you. Let’s say you have an exam coming up for a module you’re struggling on, so you start to think ‘This is so hard, I’m never going to get this, I’m going to fail, this is awful, this is awful, this is awful’. The more you try and work at it the harder it gets, so eventually you give up and go home having not completed the work you’d set yourself that day. You can’t always control what thoughts pop into your head, but once you are aware of them, you have the choice to change them.
“First you make your beliefs, and then your beliefs make you.” Marisa Peer
“It is not so much what happens to you as how you think about what happens." Epictetus
6. Take chances. Simple as that.
“You gotta treat your life like you're jumping off a rope swing maybe 'cause the whole thing is really just a shot in the dark.” Old Dominion
If you’ve read this far, thank you, and I hope you have found these tips helpful! From all of us at School Smart, we wish you luck with everything that accompanies going to university!
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