This 10 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make in University blog series is for any students who are still in school, or about to attend university, so that you can make the best out of your academic career!
Thank you to the dozens of people from around the world who have anonymously shared their biggest regrets in hindsight and what they thought were the biggest mistakes that people make in university. Originally, I wanted to share all 10 at once, but I received so many great responses that I wanted to do a deeper dive on each of the Top 10 mistakes. Check out University Mistake #6 if you haven’t read it yet!
My biggest regret is definitely not using campus resources to their best. I would’ve had better direction and understanding of university life and developed my academics if I went out and put my pride aside to utilize those resources.ANONYMOUS
Upon making it into university, we all become so focused on “getting good grades” so that we can “get a job” once we graduate. Many times, we carry this burden upon ourselves and fail to look outside of our bubbles and realize that there are many support systems and resources available to us. In hindsight, I could have put in a lot more effort into getting scholarships and grants to fund my academic and extracurricular experiences (instead of paying for them with my student loans or out of pocket).
I wish I had used the resources university provided, such as proofreading, writing help, tutorials, etc…ANONYMOUS
What can you do?
- Attend orientation and information sessions and read newsletters from your student councils and committees to find out what resources and support services are available across your campus (e.g. wellness/dental/medical/counselling services)
- Talk to your peers and professors and ask them about the different programs and offerings they believe are most helpful (e.g. case competitions, research programs, internships, volunteer services, etc…)
- Join student clubs and organizations because members usually get extra perks and benefits (e.g. campus discounts, grants and scholarships, mentorship programs, pro bono projects)
- Take advantage of free office hours, lessons and tutorials, career services (resume help or mock interviews), writing services, tax services, legal services, academic counselling, and many more academic programs that are available to students (and sometimes alumni)
- Participate in mentorship programs to start networking and learning from more experienced students, alumni, and industry professionals
What did I do?
Upon my acceptance into university, I had a few entrance scholarships and grants which are usually standard for most students (though I wish I had applied for more of these in my later years). I made sure to attend orientation and information sessions (mostly for the free swag), but I also found out where student centres were for free drop in services and support (e.g. personal finance workshops).
I also joined a lot of social clubs for campus and local discounts (e.g. 10% off local restaurants) and academic clubs for exam prep packages. I also participated in several mentorship programs through these associations, and attended many different networking events and conferences for free or at a discount. For example, as a member of the International Business Students’ Association, I got around $800 to pay for my exchange to Singapore.
When it came to my academics, I attended several workshops and tutorials for studying, research, etc… and also took advantage of the Student Success Centre to proofread my papers. The feedback from the advisors helped me a lot, and led to much higher grades for my assignments. I also attended tutorials, office hours, and met 1:1 with my professors for help and advice in the courses that I found challenging. Many times, I got great tips and resources that solidified my understanding of class concepts.
On the career front, my career advisors were great at giving me feedback on my resumes, cover letters, and interviews. I found mock interviews to be extremely helpful in preparing me for the real thing, and I would highly recommend participating in these because they usually bring in actual industry professionals and recruiters to give you feedback.
The Least You Need to Know
- Become aware of as many different resources and services available to you as a student by joining clubs, asking peers and professors, and attending information sessions.
- Take advantage of anything that will help you save costs (e.g. grants for projects, conferences, or travel), enable academic success (e.g. tutoring, essay reviews), and prepare you for your career (e.g. resume services, mock interviews).
- Make time in the beginning of your semesters to fill out grant applications and book your appointments in advance because many of these resources and services are first-come-first-serve.
Stay tuned for University Mistake #8 and remember to subscribe for my top 3 career resources each month!