University: A brave new world
‘Don’t worry about your Project Work and the stuff. Once you survive your JC, university will be a breeze.’ You may have heard this from your seniors or even your JC teachers. That statement has some merit. University life, at least on the surface, looks really a lot easier than JC life. You don’t have teachers who chase after you for tutorial assignments. You don’t have to go for school as early as 7:30. In fact, you can even choose not to go for classes at all but watch lecture recording at home. But is university really a paradise? Are you aware of the challenges ahead? Digital Senior would like to offer you a peek into your future university life by highlighting three aspects that are different from your current JC life.
You have entered serious adulthood
Firstly, you have the autonomy to charter your own course in your university life. You can select your own modules and design your own timetable. Basically you are treated as a full adult. There are no more ‘teachers’. Instead you will have busy professors who will attend to you only if you take the initiative to approach them personally. Great freedom comes with great responsibility. Unfortunately, Digital Senior observes that some students are not up to the challenge. We see students skipping classes for no legitimate reasons. We also see students who only start to study one week before exams. They may be doing well in JC because they face the discipline from teachers. However, once that discipline and guidance disappear in university, they find themselves incapable of managing their own studies. So think about this: to what extent are you relying on the discipline of your JC teachers to study? You need to be mentally prepared that once the rein of your teachers goes loose, you still know how to control your horse that may otherwise run off track.
Not everything can be erased
Secondly, everything that you do in university carries greater consequences. In your JC, not doing well in one exam means very little in the long run, since the only exams that matter are your final A-levels. But you should not carry this mentality to university where each exam counts. In fact, if you know how your university GPA is calculated, you should know that exams in your year 1 and 2 carry greater weight in calculating your final GPA. Hence you need to consistently work hard, as failure in university is permanently recorded in your transcript. Of course, university life is more than study. The decisions you make in other area of your life also carry greater consequences. In your JC, you can join all kinds of clubs and activities just for fun. While you can still pursue fun and passion, it is perhaps more mature to add one more dimension of consideration: your career plan. Once you enter university, you will realize that what you do outside studies will be looked into by your employers. If you are interested in working for, say fashion design, but you have not done anything related to that area, that will raise a red flag in the mind of employers who may have the concern about the seriousness of your commitment. Hence take extra-curriculum activities in university as a platform for you to explore interests and display commitment and competency.
You are more than a student
The diversity of student populations and other resources are much greater than your JC. If your JC is still considered a school, your university is really a community. Don’t still think of yourself as a student in the sense that you are here only to attend classes and make sure you do well for exams. That’s the bare minimum. You are a citizen of the community, so be more proactive in university. For example, great exchange programs are being offered by NUS, SMU, NTU and SUTD. They are opportunities for you to go overseas for one semester and be fully immersed in the local culture. Conversely, universities here also take in exchange students from overseas whom you can make friends with if you take the initiative. Moreover, summer internship is a good place to kick-start your career well ahead of your peers. Many companies and organizations reach out to university students by holding talks, company visits or competitions. Make sure you go for such things to gain more exposures to the world beyond campus. There are many exciting new things for you to try. Go out and get them!
University is fundamentally different from JC. It is more than just an educational institution in a narrow sense. It is more like a transition area between your schooling life and your working life. But it has its own fun as well. You can do a lot of things that you are not allowed to do in JC and that you won’t have the time to do when you start working. So if you follow the advice given by Digital Senior, we promise you that your university life is going to be fulfilling and unforgettable.
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