You’ve finally made it. You were one of the chosen, you can finally claim the one thing you’ve fantasized about for most of your life. Your freedom. For most people, this translates roughly as, late nights, skimpy clothes, older men and a complete disdain for anything that has anything to do with any period time stretching beyond the next five seconds. Here are a few tips from someone who has gone through this process. Other than the things you’ll do to damage your chances, there are a lot of things you’ll confront. Cliques, wicked lecturers and most importantly, the new and often exciting possibility of truancy without immediate consequence.
Here are a few tips to navigating this new and often challenging phase of your life;
Find balanced friends: One of the most exciting things about being a new undergraduate is that everyone around you is actively trying to adjust to the new reality, social orders are being created and people are generally trying to find and create companionships and social partnerships that have value given the new context. You’ll meet a lot of new people, and in the process, you need to calibrate who you choose to hang out with based on two important variables;
- What they actively indulge (or ask you to indulge) in when you’re together.
- How long (and how often) they want to be with you.
The first will tell you what sort of influence they’ll be to you and the second tells how meaningful they believe you are to their new adventure. As a rule of thumb you want your friendships to incline to a fair degree towards the reason you’re in school and have loads of fun as well and so the solution to this is to actively seek out and spend time with individuals who manifest a healthy balance between social and academic junctures. Since most negative relationships are based on specific, repetitive shared actions, it’s a healthy idea to find people who party and still find the time to read their books as they are less likely to have a manic hold on your time and attention.
Spend time on your own: While you’re probably excited to explore all the new options to indulge in social behavior, it’s probably a good idea to retain some time for yourself. This is important because you do need some time to audit your mind space. As a rule of thumb, please be yourself. It can be tempting to adopt a façade that allows you blend into the new mix but it’ll also drain you down the line to lose your identity. Embrace your eccentricities and be content with your quirkiness. Be secure in the knowledge that everyone else is quirky too.
Stay close to the information: In this new mix of different personalities, it is easy to become blind to the true purpose of a university education. Stay close to official information channels and make sure to keep a few friends close who always know what’s up as being informed about school activities keeps you grounded in the reason why you’re in school and sets you right when you’re about to veer. Also, given all the new social bonding, it’s easy to become isolated. Staying in touch with the information gives you context about what other people are doing and helps to put you in the right place at the right time.
Know your lecturers: Although a lot of young people think otherwise, University success is extremely political. Who you know is important and things (especially in the social sciences) can be grey a lot and lecturers and their subjective calls can often define the difference between an A and a B. It also helps to understand what your lecturer panders to and the types of effort which he rewards. Some lecturers need you to give them exactly what they give you while others prefer a more expansive approach to answering assessment questions. Knowing what your lecturer likes is a significant aspect of navigating the politics of success in University. As a rule of thumb, understand how he/ she scores on a scale based on the amount of research you put in from little to a whole lot. Going through this process will help you understand exactly what you need to achieve the results you desire on a case by case basis. It also helps to find a friend who is adept at this and understands the different lecturers to a T as they’ll rub off on you and put you through at some point.
Learn a skill: Despite what your entirely well-meaning parents may have fed to you for years, most of the time, your entire training will turn out to be a commodity and in the absence of any real skills, you’re likely to end up on the wrong end of the job spectrum from unemployed to demotivated because you’ll find out very quickly that without a real skill, the job market can feel like a slave plantation that has you locked in for life. Whether you choose to be gainfully employed or not, a skill offers an important asset as it guarantees that you are always able to earn on your own terms and gives you a path to freedom should you make the choice to start afresh on your own.
Enjoy your time: Okay. So this is a little bit of regret from an old guy who may or may not have missed out on all the partying but please as much as possible, enjoy the privilege of your new adventure. Go to parties, drink beer wisely and when you don’t have to bench press school work, binge watch shows on Netflix. This is not a grim warning or a death call but you’re at the beginning of the process that you will look back upon as the last real holiday of your life so as much as possible, remember to fit meaningful and rationale leisure into your schedule.
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