5 Things All Uni Students Should Be Doing
Being a university student is hard. Thank God for the Australian government’s HECS-HELP tuition fee loan scheme that saves you from having to pay tens of thousands of dollars up front each year (unless you’re an international student, that is!) but there are other challenges that most uni students face in this in-between stage of adulthood.
Being at university is probably the first time for most students being on their own, disciplining themselves without the help of the high school timetables or parents. It can be a confusing time trying to make big adult decisions without knowing what the future holds, struggling to keep your motivations high when your first-year experience makes you think, “Wait, I was the smartest kid in class at school. But I’m just average here?”
No matter what you’re studying, how old you are, or which university you go to, there are a few things all uni students could be doing to get through the struggles and help set themselves up for the near future.
1. Exercise or keep active.
You’ve probably all seen the meme (below) that explains the struggles of the university life where you’re forced to choose just two out of the three important aspects of life: good grades, enough sleep, and social life. Well, add ‘good health’ to it, too. And while the juggling of these factors can seem impossible, you’d better get used to it now because it’s the same story, if not worse, when you get into the workforce. So there’s no better time than now to practice!
Now, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that being active can boost your productivity, brain power, and motivation among other things, on top of contributing to good health. When you’re at uni, it’s important to get in the habit of regular exercise to keep your energy levels high and help you study more effectively.
2. Talk to your professors.
Getting to know your professors and helping them to remember your face and name doesn’t take a lot of work but can pay off big time later on. Professors can write recommendations for you when you apply for jobs or graduate school and it is highly unlikely that any professor will do these favours for you if you have never bothered to speak to them.
Ask questions at the end of the lecture, talk to them about their research projects and see if they want an assistant, talk to them about your projects, and get their thoughts and opinions on topics you’d like to discuss. Even if you never “need” their recommendations in the end, a few minutes spent talking to them gained you valuable knowledge.
3. Research your career paths.
Even if you know exactly what you have to do to get the dream job you want, do more research. What does it take to get hired by the company of your dreams? What major do you need to take to get into the graduate program? And actually write to the company and ask them about their recruitment process, and visit the graduate school and talk to a faculty member about entry requirements. Even better, connect with people already working in the field on LinkedIn, to find out what the job actually involves and increase your chances of forging some inroads into finding work.
This doesn’t mean that you should confine your options for just that one specific goal, but it helps to understand that you’re on the right path to achieve your current dream.
4. Get a part-time job or an internship.
Go out there and get yourself a job. Around universities, there are a lot of businesses willing to hire students that can only work around their uni schedule. And even if you’re studying to be an accountant, it doesn’t mean that you should only look for a job in the finance industry. At the end of the day, having any part-time job increases the chances of you getting a full-time job later on, and by only focusing on industry-relevant jobs, you might miss out on great opportunities to grow your CV and get paid well.
Plus, think about what’s important to you right now. If it’s important to have a job in order to fund your living expenses, then get yourself a job at the sushi place near uni or work as a retail assistant at a clothing store. While it might not be relevant experience, at least you have experience to put on your CV and show dedication.
5. Utilise university facilities and services.
You’re paying tens of thousands of dollars to attend your university. Make the most out of all it has to offer! Your uni might have a free or discounted gym, free lectures open to all, study skills workshops and career services. Join clubs and their events, too. You see a bunch of people having a sausage sizzle in front of the psychology building? Go and eat some sausages!
One thing you should utilise the most at uni is the career services. Learn how to write cover letters, an attention-grabbing CV, network with other professionals, and ace interviews. These services can be costly if you pay out of your own pocket once you graduate.
These are just some of the most important things that you should be doing while you’re at uni. The earlier you start these, the better! However, if you’re in your last semester of the course and you haven’t done any of this, don’t worry. This isn’t a black and white guide to university life. Also, you might have a different goal than to be employed as soon as you graduate. What’s important to remember is that your daily actions are aligned with your goals.