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Pieces of Advice I Wished I Had Listened to When I Was in College

by Carmen Yap. |

A few years back, I was still in college experiencing one of the better phases in my life. To be honest and thankfully, I didn't encounter any bad experiences but there were certainly some pieces of advice I wished I had listened to especially in my college-era as a student.

I'm sure we have said this way too many times that "time passes to quickly" and before that, we know the prime phase of our lives have passed and for me, that was definitely during my college days. Although I had to attend classes, study for exams and curfews still existed lacking much freedom compared to now, I do admit that I miss it and there are a few things I wish I had done to make it more meaningful. Here are some pieces of advice I wished I had personally listened to when I was younger, primarily when I was still studying in college:

1. To join more clubs or societies

Yes, the top priority in attending college should be studying and passing with flying colours. However, it is not only about devoting one hundred percent of your time in studying as this is the time for us to have the freedom to learn new skills and make new friends.

Attending college is more than studying. It is undeniable that acing your exams contributes numerous benefits to your future, such as the possibility of earning scholarships, the key to obtaining an interview opportunity and etc. but there is more than mere studying in college.

Joining societies or clubs which can contribute different benefits to you as well. There are certain courses which do not require joining societies or clubs as compulsory but if possible, one should attempt to volunteer to join because it’s an opportunity to learn some skills, uphold certain values and most importantly, to socialise.

In addition, joining a society or clubs would allow us to build our connections by making friends. In a college or university where everyone else holds the status as a student, it is easier to make friends and to build connections. In a society or club, it may consist of students from various other courses which would diversify your connections to different fields.

2. Pick up skills you're interested with

Just as mentioned earlier, it is not all about studying the whole time. Choose to pick up some skills such as learning a new language, to enhance skills such as arts, music, writing or even picking up life skills such as learning how to drive.

During my time in college, not every day was packed with lecture classes, and thus this gave me extra time to pursue other activities. Unfortunately, the free time was not productively utilised, whilst often being devoted to rest time at home.

Once we join the workforce, we will realise the obvious rigidity in time and increasing responsibilities. Devoting time outside from work and to absorb new knowledge by utilising the already exhausted brain from dealing with responsibilities at work would be another form of challenge itself. It was then I realised that the free time wasted during my free time as a student could be utilised to learn something I was interested in, i.e. learning the Korean language. Being able to converse fluently in this language could perhaps provide me a side hustle like translating for corporate jobs or even emceeing!

3. Spend more time with your loved ones

You only have one memorable college/university life. Indeed a few may choose to pursue a second course after completion but trust me on that the first will usually be the most memorable. This is because you will be surrounded with peers from the similar stage of life and age due to the social setting here in Malaysia where the majority of colleges/universities students consist of those averagely in their late teens to early 20s.

If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by a group of friends whom you are comfortable with, whether they are from your course or not, choose to have fun with them once in a while (but not too often as your classes are still a priority!).

Aside from your friends, it's equally as important to spend quality time with your family too. You'll realise once you've started working, the time spent with them becomes lesser and lesser. As we grow older, our parents do too and it's best to spend as much time with them while we still can.

Although college life seems long, there is always this perspective that outings and fun can wait; priority of studying/passing/researching/handling assignments shall be fulfilled first. But before we realise, college life would’ve come to an end, and you have already drifted apart from your group of friends or you wouldn't have enough time for your family.

When you are finally have time to spend more time, you will realise that things might have changed. If this is not what you wished for, do have fun with them once in awhile, take a few pictures together and do some catching up! You will appreciate this advice a few years later while looking at those pictures.

Although there some things we can't change that are in the past, one thing we can still do is to work towards a better version of yourself - by looking forward and imagining where you would like to see yourself in a few years time. It can be your career or personal development as an individual. Take time to be mindful and understand what makes you happy; preserve that or work towards those goals. Good luck!

You may find out more about Carmen on her Instagram too.

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