This week I’ll be heading into my last ever semester at university while others will head into their first. I still remember my first day at Uni like it were yesterday; there are so many things I know now that I wish I’d known then that would have made life so much easier for a shy, anxious freshman like myself. I often reflect on that time now that I’m a senior, and if I could go back to that first day:
I’d tell myself that it’s okay to let go of those high school friendships that I valued so much. None of my close friends attended the same university as me; they all went to another university together. It was really hard to adjust to the idea that while they could all take classes together, share dorm rooms, and hang out during breaks, I had no-one. During my breaks I would go to their university to see them as it was within walking distance from mine. I wanted so badly for things not to change. But I eventually stopped visiting and this only benefitted me because if I had been stuck with my high school friends throughout university I would’ve never had the chance to build new lifelong friendships. Not all high school friendships are meant to last; things change and you eventually grow apart and that’s all right because some of those friendships were based solely on convenience i.e. the fact that you were together 5 days a week for 5 years.
I’d tell myself to be more active and join a university sport team or student club. I waited till my junior year to do this and have regretted it since. It’s a great way to put yourself out there and meet people who share the same interests as you. Not to mention you’ll be doing something useful with your time and engaging in activities you love.
I’d tell myself to work harder on my GPA. During the first year of Uni you should look to acquire the highest possible GPA because you’ll be taking basic courses that are essentially a recap of those you took in high school. The course load will only get harder and denser over the years and it won’t be easy to keep your GPA up. Grades do matter, as I would later find out when applying for internships and many companies requested a copy of my transcript.
I’d tell myself to choose better elective courses. A lot of people choose electives for the sake of grades and I don’t blame them. But if there’s something you’re passionate about besides the major you’re already pursuing, then why not choose your elective courses based on that and get a minor or diploma out of it? I took an interest to journalism later on in my university life; I was majoring in Finance and decided to do a minor in Media Studies after hearing about the program through a friend. However, this meant I had to stay an extra semester and couldn’t graduate on time. I don’t regret my decision because I’ve loved each of my Media courses till now, but if I had taken media courses as electives earlier on instead of the other random courses I chose then I wouldn’t have been behind.
I’d tell myself to make friends with professors. Forget about looking like the teacher’s pet, these are the people you’re going to want to keep in contact with after graduation. Networking is an essential step in landing your dream job and you shouldn’t wait till after graduation to do it. Besides, it won’t hurt to have a few friends in the industry that you can reach out to for advice or a recommendation.
I’d tell myself to get out of my comfort zone and do a semester abroad. My university offers many semester abroad programs around the world. A friend of mine did a semester abroad in the U.S and another friend went to Paris, France. Not only is it an amazing experience but a great opportunity to travel and discover different parts of the world. I guess I was too scared to make a big life change at the time and didn’t want to be away from my family & friends for 6 months. If the opportunity were to present itself again though, I’d definitely take it.
To all those about to embark on their university journey, I hope this was helpful. The thought that in a few months I will be an alumnus makes me cringe. I grew to love university life and all that comes with it. It’s one of those wonderful life experiences you can never get back so make the most of it and good luck!