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4 Things I Wish I Did When I Was a University Student

by Anneke Steenkamp on February 11, 2014

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I have to be honest. I was probably your typical University student. Studying a BA Degree already put me in the party category of University living. What I learnt from myself during school was that, as a procrastinator, I was capable of cramming loads of information in a short period of time.

At this point in time studying wasn’t a necessity and what came first was either partying or spending time with my boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all regretful of how I spent my early twenties, because I do feel that you need to get all those needs and wants out of your system before entering the real word.

However, I think it would have been possible to live out my social life while adding a few other habits and activities to the mix. As a multi-task professional I could have spent less time napping, watching series and playing poker online and more time becoming part of the sphere that is University living.

These are few things I wish I did while I studied at the University of Stellenbosch:

Went to Class

Let’s just get the obvious one out of the way. If you studied a BA degree you most probably understand this dilemma. Especially later years I would only have a few classes a day, one being at 08:00 in the morning and the other one at 16:00. Naturally I slept late and only went to the ‘must-go’ classes and tutorials.

Going to class is so much more than actually attending; it’s about voicing your opinion and forming part of a community. You never know how the person sitting next to you might influence your career 10 years down the line.

I was too concerned with short-term pleasures to see the long term benefits in being an active learner in the class room.

Rocked The Residence

For some or other I started playing the ‘shy card’ during my teens. Instead of interacting with every person I saw I started to avoid ‘small talk’ and engaging with new people.

I stayed at a University Res for three years and I cannot help to think that I didn’t make an impact at all. I had my group of friends (which were all super driven) and I passed all my subjects but I never really lived my potential.

A residence is somewhere you can connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals and start something powerful. When I think back I realize that I do have a lot of attributes, skills and ideas that could have worked so well in that set-up.

Even if you aren’t the most upbeat and positive person there is still a way to get involved and make your mark.

Admitted that I Cared

Yeah; I tried to play it cool. I made friends with the students in class that really excelled, but I never felt like I got their approval. Since I realized that I couldn’t be the best, I pretended not to care. Not only did this give my confidence a knock, but it gave me a bad attitude.

By pretending not to care you don’t have to face the risk of failing, and the fear of failure has been clouding about all too much.

By admitting that you care you automatically put yourself on a different level. You throw yourself in the deep end and you actually perform to the best of your ability. Since I started freelancing I’ve realized that losing and failing is a part of the process. Every time you get up, you’ve learnt a lesson and you’re a step closer to success.

This brings me to my favourite quote at the moment, tattooed on tennis player Stanislas Wawrinka’s wrist:

Ever tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.  – Samuel Beckett

Found a Mentor

The University campus is flustered with business and life professionals. You don’t need to become buddy-buddy with your professor, but at least make sure that they know who you are. I grew close to a few lecturers and had some one-on-one sessions for poetry criticism, but I could have done a lot better.

These years really form you and what you think you are capable of achieving. Unfortunately in the arts you need the approval of others to deem yourself successful. Finding someone that understand you and your vision can mean the world and this might even lead to a lifelong friendship.

If I was to go back to university I would want to be open to growth and personal development. During those years I was maybe a bit too defensive and concerned of what others might think.

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