I have read too many articles concerning the survival guides for first year students in uni, but none for second or third year students. Because I have just finished my second year, I can now declare that I have the authority to write the second year survival guide, and hopefully, will be having the authority to write the third year survival guide next year.
These are the things that I have done and wish I didn’t, and some that I haven’t done and wish I had.
Here it goes.
In first year, the students are generally categorised into two categories: the nerdies who are so scared of failing and the happy-go-luckies who don’t care about uni at all. Because I am better categorised to the first group (I wish!), for you grade-conscious people out there, listen carefully.
You need to have more fun this second year.
Not that I studied too much in my first year, heck, I don’t even know if I can ever study too much (I love my sofa, my TV, and my coffee too much to do so), but seriously, second year is the best time to have fun.
Why not first year, you may ask?
Because in the first year you are in the transition.
Odds are that you are too nervous about uni that you go to every lecture and tutorial, and buy every possible prescribed textbook (no, you don’t need to buy those prescribed textbooks to pass). During first year, you learned how to cook, how to do dishes and laundries, how to make friends, and basically you learned how to adapt to a new environment.
Plus, in second year, you have more friends. In fact, you may have found friends for life. And seriously, now you have the time.
So congratulations, and now it is time to enjoy!
For you nerdies, skipping classes once in a while is ok. (This statement is strictly for those who ‘study too much’).
I have a friend who really likes to study, but rarely has a time to socialise. It’s good that you love to study, and you listen to every single lectopia on weekends. But uni life is not merely about studying, it’s also about networking. Friendship, is the best way to build your network.
Considering that uni has more than 10,000 students, and for the fact that only five of them are my close friends, I’m pretty sure I haven’t really implemented this myself. Of course, I have terrific times with those five, from going to brunch, movies, skipping class together, going to Luna Park, had buffet dinner at Crown, cooking together, and all other stuffs, but I really wish I have spent much more time with them. This year is my last year, who knows what will happen next? I might not be able to spend time with them after the end of 2012.
And from my observations, second year is not that hard (my friends also tell me the same). Somehow being a first year student, coupled with the anxiety and the expectation that freaked us more, made first year more difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t recommend slacking; do your assignments, hand them in on time, study for your exams.
But seriously, missing a lecture at 10am for having brunch with your friend who just broke up with her boyfriend might be worth doing. Your lecturer won’t really appreciate that you come to her lecture 20 years from now. Your friend might.
For you invisible people, please take off your invisibility cloak.
Simply put, speak up in classes. Make yourself known to your lecturers and tutors. Be visible.
I have never done this (gee, I’m a faithful international student trying not to drown in the sea of Westerners), so this is the one thing I wish I did last year. I wish I have been a good student towards my lecturer, and a good friend towards my tutor.
Of course, there is (maybe) almost zero effect on speaking up towards your grades, but getting yourself to be known in tutorials is a good way to do networking as well. Besides, your tutors might want to be your referees in your resume, if you’re considering to do some internships. Not only that, you’re training your confidence, which is critical when you go into workforce. In a couple of years, you need to be able to approach the employees; why don’t you practice now?
Well, I didn’t do this. I vow to do better this year, but I wish I did it last year. My media writing tutor is a freelance writer whose work has been published everywhere (including co-authoring one Lonely Planet book), my psych tutor is a child psychologist, and my lecturers are the top ones in their fields across Australia. Imagine how much will I learn if I have just taken the time to be visible.
Do not wait till third year to do an internship, please, don’t.
Only 33% of you will go into post grad (how do I know that it’s 33%? I’m a psychologist-wanna-be, and it is psychologically correct to say that people believe a statement more if there’s a percentage of some sorts in it, so I like to use numbers, even though I don’t know where it comes from), leaving more than two thirds of you to get a job after uni.
So consider the majority of you, who wants to find work after graduation.
If you’re in third year, of course you’ve known this: what could possibly be worse than a blank resume? It’s good if you’ve worked part-time beforehand (you know, McDonalds, Starbucks, or anywhere), but part-time jobs are not enough to amaze your future employees.
Plus, if you want a secured job before you graduate, you will need to apply for a graduate position, and the job application is closed in late March. So, any interns that you do after March will not be considered.
If you only have 12 contact hours per week for uni, apply for that stupid internship, get a job at Starbucks, or join a club and become a committee! Yes, you need to have fun along the way, but I can not stress enough the importance of having that professional experience of a life outside uni. Guess I’m lucky, I have become a journalist in Meld since first year, and I have some part-time jobs in second year (at least, my resume is not that dull!).
And now in my third year, I have another two on-going internships. Yet some of my friends already know this principle by heart, and implemented this years earlier; some have five different internships in three different countries. That’s what important. Employees will get 1,000 applications and what makes you stand out from the others is your experience. Getting good grades doesn’t mean that you’ll have a decent job. Some companies want interactive human beings rather than genius robots.
Time flies fast, so buckle up!
Expect the unexpected. Dream the unimaginable. Love more, take up those pranks and wear pajamas to school. Bring daffodils home on Daffodil’s day. Volunteer on World Wish Day, you might meet some interesting people. Join a club, or two. Attend the club events. Organise a trip to a neighbouring city with your friends. Learn how to ski. Meet someone, fall in love. Make a three-course-meal once in a blue moon. Learn how to bake. Do spring cleaning and winter cleaning regularly. Smile to strangers. Decorate your apartment.
People say that we regret more of the things we haven’t done and wish we had, instead of the things we have done and wish we hadn’t. I think it’s true.