You’ve spent at least the last twelve years of your life preparing for this moment. It finally dawns upon you that you will be embarking on one of your final stages in formal education. Before you begin, there are bound to be questions on what college life is like, or even what to expect after university. These are genuine concerns, and there are articles on Digital Senior that address them.
This article, however, is not meant to directly address such concerns.
Instead, this article is meant to help you reflect on your past experiences prior to university. These may be things that you’ve picked up during your secondary school, JC and Polytechnic days. It is important to be mindful of these experiences as they will definitely aid you in adapting to college life.
To illustrate this, I will be reflecting on 3 of my own personal lessons. Perhaps some of you may find these lessons useful. Otherwise, I hope it helps you to think of the lessons that you wish to carry to university.
1. Embrace Your Strengths, Accept Your Weaknesses
Before entering NUS FASS, I spent my time as a Science student. I had different aspirations back then and believed that studying STEM was the right path for me.
I soon began realizing what a challenge my intended path was. It was no longer a question of working hard, because I did work hard indeed. Certain challenges were just too difficult to overcome.
Eventually, I came to accept that my strength was in certain subjects and not others. Therefore, I decided to pursue the Arts, which was both something I was passionate about and was stronger in.
Knowing my strengths and weaknesses benefitted me, especially when deciding on modules to take. Though my choices were based on interest, I made sure they were within the means of my workload and personal ability. Doing so allowed me to minimize unnecessary stress and truly enjoy studying.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to shy away from the challenges you face in school. What I am telling you, though, is to work within your own means. There are challenges no matter which course you enrol in, but it is your choice to decide which ones are worth overcoming.
2. Know What Works for You
I believe most of us have experimented with different study techniques throughout secondary school and JC/ Poly. These study techniques can include a variety of things – from finding an effective note-taking method, to knowing which time of day is best for you to study.
Some of these techniques worked, and others didn’t. As for myself, it took me a while before realizing that I studied best at night, and that visual aids such as mind maps were effective for me.
Given that university largely revolves around independent learning, you have to figure a lot of things out on your own. Know which methods work for you so that you can practice them in university. Good study techniques allow you to process and internalize content efficiently, while also helping you to plan your study schedule.
And also, don’t force yourself to follow what others are doing! Some people may be doing well in school on top of multiple CCA commitments. However, if you feel that you would be unable to cope with so many responsibilities, don’t be afraid to miss out (or ‘FOMO’).
Just do what you believe is best for you, because at the end of the day, only you are in charge of your own outcomes from university.
3. Be Brave in Making Mistakes
University is a whole new ball game. There will be things you are unfamiliar with, and you are bound to err once in a while. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Instead, be kind and be brave when facing your mistakes.
I remember consistently failing for certain subjects in secondary school and JC. Initially it was demoralizing, seeing repeated failure despite working so hard.
However, I eventually taught myself to see failures as learning opportunities. Rather than focusing on the grades I got, I paid more attention to individual questions and concepts. For those that I got right, I made sure I reinforced my understanding. For those that I got wrong, I learnt and made notes to ensure I did not repeat my mistakes.
I’ve translated this approach into university, and I must say it has really helped me to focus more on my learning. This is in light of the tougher and more complex content taught in university. And although the bell curve seems daunting at times, I continuously remind myself to focus on the learning opportunities instead.
In conclusion, these are just some of the lessons from my past that I’ve applied onto my university life today. I urge you to reflect on your own personal lessons prior to university as it can help make this new journey easier.
And of course, there’s no denying that you’ll pick up more lessons while you’re in university. It’s good to continuously reflect over how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learnt. Embrace these lessons and use them to achieve your goals and shape you into the individual that you want to be.