Top Tips To Thriving Through Tough Tertiary Times
That title is a little bit much; I had a ‘thrive during’ in there but the alliteration was more fun. It’s more the standard of a person who thinks they are good enough to post tips about uni life on an internet forum, as if any one gives a crap. Nonetheless; now at the end of my first semester of my third year at university, I’ve been thinking about some things that have helped me survive.
1. Actually go to your fucking classes
It sounds like a given, but then again it is also a cliché that university students never actually go to class. If you’re taking external units or whatever; cool. But if not, not only are you paying serious cash not to be there, but you are missing out on a lot. Most classes tend to involve conversation or more interactive time with your tutor. Lectures are just annoying, but your tutorials are the time where you are actually engaging with your units. If you don’t go to these, you tend to find yourself disengaged with the ideas present and kind of lost for thoughts or answers when it comes to assignments, tests and exams.
2. Make at least one friend in each unit
I have been at Curtin for three years now and have made on average about one friend per semester really; I’m not very good at it. However, what I have managed to do is get to know at least one person in every class and have added them on Facebook. If there is ever a fuck around with tutorials or the unit more generally, it is always good to have someone to talk to and see if they know anything else. Also, it is good to have someone who can send you notes if they do the readings and you don’t, and vice versa. It makes it a little more comfortable and generally easier. You don’t have to grow old together; you just have to get through the unit. Everyone there is probably after someone to help them through as well so it’s never hard.
3. Take notes on all your readings (but don’t read all of it)
It’s so time consuming to read the entire chapter of some book of dense theory, most of which is not actually relevant to the topic of discussion. The point of these readings is to get you to identify what is important; and you can normally find it in the conclusion and the first two paragraphs (or the abstract if there is one). Once you do that, skim through the rest of the article for key words, spend no more than twenty minutes on one reading. Also, highlighting is fucking useless. You’re not actually thinking and everyone highlights way too much. Best thing to do is to type out exactly what it says and place the page number at the end. This way you are forced to reread it, think about what you are reading while typing and you have a full quote to use as a reference later on. It also improves your typing speed and efficiency.
(Also, keep all of your notes in a file somewhere, most degrees have a large amount of overlap within each unit and you will always be able to use old references in new units)
4. Eat Bananas for Breakfast
Fuck Apples, I see so many dicks walking around with apples. I don’t know how much of an apple is water but I think it is a lot and they always leave you feeling empty. Bananas are a slow releasing energy food and if you have two or three you are pretty good to get through your morning classes without feeling like ass. That, and they don’t take long to prepare or eat so you’re not so rushed in the morning.
5. Take showers and wander about or exercise
Often you will find yourself sitting at your desk asking why the computer or pen is not writing your assignment and being an asshole. Spending too much time trying to get some thought out is useless, generally if you have nothing after twenty minutes of nothing, nothing is going to happen. Showers are great because no one thinks in the shower about what they are doing; your mind is free to wander as your body essentially goes on autopilot. Don’t get in all “blergh I need to think about things”, just enjoy the shower and let thoughts come to you, if you know your shit, it will just happen. Beyond this, general movement promotes blood flow and will alter your mood and thought so yeah, do that too.
6. If you do not like your degree, get the fuck out of it
There are far too many people that I know who are doing their undergrads and every time I ask them how it is going, they look and sound like they are on the brink of suicide. University can be, and often is very stressful; you have a lot to do in a fairly small amount of time. However, what the people who I often find to be most unhappy (and they are truly unhappy) are the ones who are in their second year or so and always say “I just can’t fucking wait for my degree to be done, I hate it so much”. I understand that university life on top of being a stressful one, is a very poor one financially (normally), but I don’t think it should be a horrible experience. The people who complain so much about uni often have some misguided notion that once they leave their undergrads they are going to go into a job that will be so much simpler, but most of the time it is to the contrary. Your job, if you are employed out of and in the area of your bachelor’s will often be a more demanding extension and practice of all the skills you spent the last three or four years learning. In short, if you really hate your degree, odds are you are going to hate the career path that it will take you on. I never understood why so many people do not follow their area of interest in tertiary education…If you don’t have any natural curiosity or passion for what you are doing, your work will be pretty crap and your life will always be you doing things you don’t want to do.
7. Change your way of thinking.
Not so much a tip as it as an idea on how to approach university and your work and time there. If you go into your university degree and finish it as the same person, you did it wrong.
Universities function as institutions to exchange, challenge and create new ways of thinking. There is far too much weight put on knowledge as commodity that is there to be gained and sold. There is a thought that we should go to university in order to gain a degree so we can sell our skills for a lifelong career. There is nothing wrong with doing that; in fact, it is ideal if you can put your degrees to good use. There is no reason you shouldn’t. But it’s often seen as the primary objective and it leads a lot of people to do that thing stated above, where they study something they don’t care about simply because it’s easy-ish and employable. It actually is very much the opposite of what universities have always been. The point of it all is to alter your consciousness, to change your way of thinking and create new thought and take that out into society in order to better society more broadly. It’s about creating more educated, informed, and yes, useful, but also thoughtful people. It’s about creating experts in areas, not simply more workers for a job area.
But really, this is all just what works for me; I hope it is useful to many of you heading off into the world of higher education. Let me know if you have any tips of comments below.
Happy studies all
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