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Why do some students have such a wonderful experience at university and others not? Chances are it’s not because students picked the right or wrong institution, but rather because they didn’t make the most of the opportunities available to them at the university they chose. Many students spend their days locked away in their dorm room, studying for whatever exam is next on the list. Others spend the entire time alternating between various stages of get-togethers and celebrations.  

University should be one of the best experiences of your life. And if you’re fortunate enough to move away from home for university, you should take advantage of it. Don’t just sit in your dorm room, locked up, not enjoying the roller coaster awaiting you. Times might get tough but, like everything in life, you have to pick yourself up and get back to the grind.  

While you’re at a university to learn, you want to make sure you’re balancing your course work with other activities as well. It’s common to hear people say high school will be the best years of your life, but you can make your student years at university even better. Here are a few tips to make the most of your university experience.

Take a proactive role in your studies

Students have a tendency to forget the importance of studying during their university years. This especially happens in the midst of managing deadlines, trying to moderate your caffeine intake and dragging your feet to your morning classes. You have the opportunity to taste-test different programmes, learn from experts in different fields and explore your passions to tailor your academic and career paths. So always keep track of your deadlines, don’t start with an assignment on its due date, attend classes and tutorials regularly and take a proactive role in your studies.  

Learning doesn’t have to be restricted to the classroom only. Consider enrolling in a free digital course from online platforms. Or you could get a part time job. There’s a lot you can learn from taking on a weekend or after-class job.

Get engaged

University isn’t all about hitting the books. Along with taking advantage of the many learning opportunities available to you, enrich your student life by getting involved outside the classroom. You should indulge freely in your hobbies and connect with people from a spectrum of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds. And to make the most of your student life, you shouldn’t be afraid to push the boundaries of your comfort zone, try new things and meet people.

There are many opportunities in and around campus. Your students’ council is a great place to start looking. It’s a valuable resource for student-led associations and initiatives. Do you like cycling? Join the cycling team. Make sure you have all the necessities, such as a bicycle frame, the bicycle itself and the gear. Like reading? You could join the reading club or make new friends at the university’s library. The activities you pursue outside the lecture hall will teach you valuable lessons and skills.  

Go abroad

Something many students regret not having done during their university years is studying or volunteering abroad. The case of wanderlust will hit you at one time or another and varsity can be one of those rare times that you can get paid to indulge it. It isn’t just the time to go on a glorified vacation, you can apply to gain experience with an international internship or go on exchange to take a course at a foreign university. These are all things that can make your professional portfolio more competitive in an increasingly global job market.  

Ask for help

If you ever feel overworked, stressed or just need advice, your institution likely has a few people you could talk to on campus. Do you feel you need help managing a heavy workload? Head to your university’s counselling center or make an appointment with an academic guidance counsellor to look for help. Maybe you feel homesick and burned out? Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you trust for guidance. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re having a tough time and asking for help. Your health is important for keeping you on your feet and moving forward so you can enjoy your university experience to the fullest.  

It’s sometimes better to approach your university’s academic counsellors. Talk to them about different opportunities available at your institution and ask what you can do to get engaged on your campus or connect with other students.  Put yourself out there.  

As a student, you have free rein over how you want to spend your day. It's challenging to manage things on your own but also exciting as you figure out who you are and who you want to be. You realise your independence, learn invaluable lessons and begin to identify your own personal values and beliefs.