Lessons from university
last updated 2023-04-07
Lessons I learned from navigating university:
- Learning is about exposing yourself to the material many times. If you don't get it on the first try, rest, look at something else that's related (other sources, other material, other people) -- get a different perspective on the material -- then come back. People learn through repetition. The more times you've seen something, the higher the chance of you knowing it. That's why reading the material before the lecture works, because during the lecture it will already be your second time seeing it, and therefore you are building on more knowledge than none. Provided enough repetitions, mostly anybody can learn anything if they want to.
- Learning can be very difficult, but that's what makes it worth it, to an extent.
- Learning is so much easier when you don't have to worry about other stuff (ie. work, a job, money).
- Learning is easiest when you're studying something you love.
- Real rest is crucial. Smartphones and social media are not real rest; they will tire you out and waste your time simultaneously. If you do not get real rest, you will pay this debt when you inevitably burn out.
- Sleep is so, so important. If you don't get enough sleep, you won't be able to concentrate, and then you can't get anything done. Step 0 of winning at university is to get enough sleep. Using substances (eg caffeine) to focus instead of sleeping is risky (at least for me it didn't work).
- Time management is about eliminating as much multitasking and context-switching as possible. Long blocks of time in a day are necessary for concentrating, and therefore learning. Sort and arrange blocks of time to focus on one thing for as long as possible. Prioritise the highest-weighted deliverables. Sacrifice small deliverables for large ones. Sacrifice a deliverable in an "easy" course for one you're unsure about. The goal is to pass all of your courses.
- Just get it to "done", not "perfect". Unless you feel passionate.
- Ask for extensions on assignemnts.
- It is of paramount importance to study something you like. You should not settle for any less. But if you're going into debt, you need a researched and achievable plan in mind for how you're going to apply your learning and translate it to a market skill. Some degree paths are not worth it to go into debt for.
- If you have a longing in your heart to be studying something, you need to listen to that and learn about it, no matter how out of reach you think it is. Studying something just for the money at the university level for many years may work out, but it is a risk.
- Professors are not there to hand-feed you. They do their best to teach, but it's your responsibility to learn and understand. The whole point of university is learning how to teach yourself things. It's called adult learning for a reason-- that means self-directed. So, direct! Take ownership.
- Make use of the instructor as much as possible. They represent a large amount of knowledge, expertise, wisdom, help, and connections. Your peers even moreso.
- Go to office hours.
- A bachelor's degree in a subject is merely foundational knowledge in that field, not specialized. It is not a vocation.
- Sometimes it's just about being too stubborn to quit. That's conviction: true belief in yourself, even when it gets tough.
- Make sure you know all the fastest course watch list tricks to get into the courses you need. Visit admin registrars and academic advisors to ask for a seat if you need to. Don't settle; be proactive and assertive.
- Go to where your peers are meeting after classes and take part in the banter. Join the major student undergrad group for your department, or other clubs. Strongly consider volunteering in that space. Don't squander the friends you can and should make here. This is most important.
- Watch list strats: Text notifications. Have the beartracks page open in your browser. Save your beartracks login in your browser to save having to type your password. Should be able to get in within seconds after the notif. Check at odd times early in the morning; notifs go out at the top and bottom of the hour so sometimes you can catch a seat before a notif is sent out. People tend to drop classes leading up to the start of the sem until the first week. I also suppose you could persuade someone to give up their seat. Also if the class is required and prereqs would make you stuck you could go to your dept academic advisor and twist their arm. Talking to the instructor to get a seat can also work. Make sure you dont have any holds, e.g. parking, library fines, those will block your reg, and clearing them isn't instant.