Making the most of your university experience

An international student in Canada shares her tips on balancing academic, social and career aspirations at university

February 3 2016

People go to university for a variety of reasons: it might be for a degree, or it is simply the next step in life, or your parents expect it of you, or you want to make the most out of life. Whatever the reason, the university experience is different for everyone.

Professors, friends and parents are important parts of having the best university experience. Professors are crucial in challenging you to do better and to bring out your best in class. Friends are your supportive base, the ones who understand what you are going through – because they are probably going through the same – and root for you. Parents are the ones who love you unconditionally, believe in you and encourage you when you are at the brink of giving up.

First and foremost, you have to think about how to do well in your academic studies. Regardless of the different reasons people go to university, these are very important. The basic things we hear every day are very true:

You need sleep! I cannot emphasise that enough. Once you get at least eight hours of sleep, everything falls into place. You start your day energised and refreshed.

Also, breakfast is such an important meal and the easiest meal to skip, but do not skip it!

It is also important to attend classes and talk to your professors. It challenges you to do better.

Now that we have discussed the vital academic aspect of university, let us move on to the other aspects. Believe it or not, your social life is also another important way of making the most out of university. We hear all the time, “Oh, you can make it as long as you have the connections”. Guess what? University allows you make those connections because everyone knows everyone in one way or another. Putting your head in your books all day, every day fulfils only one part of your university experience.

Trust me, your social life in university puts your life in balance. You are making your connections as well as focusing on your degree. Go out! Make friends! Socialise! Have stories for your kids in future! In my first year, I was all about my books and books and books. Especially thinking about how much your parents are paying, you just want to be buried in your books. Then first year was over and summer came and I wanted a job, but because I did not make enough “connections”, if I may say, my job search was limited to what I could find online. I did not have the luxury of someone saying “Oh, MJ! There’s an opening at the firm I work at” or “MJ! I told my boss that you would be great for this position and you have a meeting with him on Monday.” So you see, your social life is as important as studying hard. You have to learn how to balance it all. That’s the key to success.

Last but not the least, work while you are in school. It can be an internship; it can be joining a club as an active member such as treasurer or vice-president, or a part-time job. Whatever it is, build your résumé because when you graduate and you venture into the job field they ask for your experience as well as your degree. They go hand in hand. Get experience in your field while you are still in school, volunteer, be an intern. Whatever it is, get the work experience so that when you graduate you are well-rounded. You can look back at your university experience knowing that you made the most out of it. You know how to balance academic study, social life and work; you will realise that your time-management skills have improved. Look at that, a plus for you! 

University makes you grow, and you learn more about yourself every day. You can have it all with the university experience. Believe that anything you want, you can make it yours and you will get the most out of life in general. Create an experience of a lifetime at university and be you!

Mobolaji (MJ) Edun is based in Toronto, Canada. She is a student at the University of Toronto, the Class of 2016. She aims to be successful in all she does.

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