After 5 years of being a university student, here are a few pieces of helpful advice from my professors that stand out to me.
1. Practice is vital for mastery (a swimming example 🏊)
In one of my first-year courses, our physics professor taught us to make sure to do all practice questions instead of relying only on notes and lectures.
He told us that we can read books upon books about swimming, but we will never learn how to swim unless we jumped directly into the swimming pool. It’s the same with mastering course content.
That metaphor stuck with me and I realized that while practice was necessary to do well in maths and physics classes, it helped me feel very confident while going into exams for other courses as well.
Doing practice questions to test memory and understanding of the content led me to better exam performances in general.
2. Be honest in your work & earn your credentials 🎓
Another physics professor told us that to use online solutions to do our assignments or quizzes was to cheat on ourselves and our careers (goodbye Chegg).
He told us that if we did our work by ourselves, then even if it took a very long time to complete those assignments, one day we’d be able to proudly walk the stage knowing that we truly earned our degrees.
I thought this piece of advice was important in helping students re-shift their focus from earning the best grades at the expense of truly mastering the learning material, and re-focus on why we attend university in the first place.
3. Get stuff done no matter what, submit something even if in poorer quality📝
This one may stand to be slightly controversial given the mental health movements we are seeing (which are certainly important!!). However, this advice motivated me to stop getting caught up in my emotions, dismiss them and just get my work done. It helped me earned a higher grade than I initially expected.
It was the second half of the semester. One day our biology professor walked into our class and told us that many of the students had not made any submissions for the first few assignments in our course.
He told us that when you work in the industry, they don’t care about what’s going on in your personal life. They expect results. And perhaps the difference between 4.0 students and other students is that the former know how to put things aside and get their work done no matter what is going on.
He encouraged us to just make any kind of submission and not fail the class because of giving up too early.
My 2 cents🪙
Balancing emotions and work ⚖️
Now having experienced the bad effects of pushing emotions down long-term, I can see how taking this too far can be very harmful. But in that instance I found it empowering to just sit down for a few hours and get all the demanding assignments done. It also helped me push aside my emotions and study for x hours a day for my exams no matter what was going on and perform better.
Through my university experience, I first learned to correct my mistake of not paying serious attention to emotions and focusing mostly on work, then swinging far in the opposite direction, and then correcting that by realizing that you can sometimes “schedule” your feelings.
Sure you might have gotten yelled at work or home right before your exam, or received bad news right before an important presentation. But you have the option to make yourself stay calm for just the next few hours, and then release your emotions afterwards.
There is no need to suppress your emotions for months or years or let them control you 24/7. A middle path can be taken that can help us stay emotionally healthy but also make our future selves feel proud of the results we earn through prioritizing work.
That’s all for now!