Going to University is a privilege. Exclusively spending time for learning, developing skills and
knowledge is a special gift for a lucky one like me and you. Once you have acknowledged this rare gift, you can wisely utilize your time, resources, and efforts to achieve your goals (focussed). You might have heard that going to university is the best time in life because; never again will live mixed with youth, freedom, energy, opportunity, and resources together in this combination. During this learning phase, your wisdom, discipline, and hard work in university can help you make the most out of your life.
Be attentive and make use of the first week of the University’s socialization period, in investing in good
friendships that pay dividends forever. But always remember your ABC (Avoiding Bad Company).
Create a positive atmosphere around you that will nurture you. Here are some of the helpful hints that I
want to share with my children, and loved ones, and I hope they are of value to you as well.
- Academic. However you try to rationalize it, grades are important. Realize that a successful
school career requires hard work, dedication, sacrifice and a balanced approach (Kaak Cheshta, Bako Dhyanam, Swan Nindra Tathaiwa Cha...). Make study and learning a top priority.
a. University is a big step up and if needed, don’t be shy about getting academic help, right
help can get you on the right track. Take advantage of all the professors, TAs, support
workers you have at your disposal as a university student. When you e-mail a professor,
do it respectfully and for a good reason. Group work, study sessions and other academic
collaborations are the norm in University. Find homework/study buddies. Being study
buddies is a two way street. Don’t be the guy that just always asks for notes & help.
Complete your coursework smartly and in advance, don’t wait until the last minute.
Seek advice from upper classmen. People love feeling wise.
b. Go to class prepared enough to ask insightful questions or make useful comments. Do
your best to attend every class session and don’t sit in the back and don’t socialize
during classes. Turn off your cell phone and do not text during class.
c. Few hours of quality studying beats a draining, distracted all-nighter any day.
d. Take a draft of your essay to a TA or professor for review; once graded work has been
handed back, go back and ask for advice on how to improve it. These people will be
your references, advocates, and even friends later in life; you want them to remember
your name. If your professor is giving a talk or performance, show up, and make sure he
or she knows you did. Always remind your professor, adviser, or TA of your name when
you encounter them; they will be eternally grateful.
e. In each course, the instructor has a certain amount of material that must be covered,
and students have a certain amount of work they must do. It is your responsibility to fit
the course work into your busy life, not your instructor’s responsibility to change a
course so that it fits your schedule. You don’t need to buy all your books right away.
Avoid those long lines to buy books. Search and try to buy used book, online or borrow
f. University is also unique opportunity to take extra enrichment classes; you’re actually
interested in (i.e. Sanskrit, Programming, new languages, Religions, community/ social
work, finances etc.). Take advantage of what campus life has to offer – clubs, events,
service trips, religious groups, language classes and campus jobs. Research shows that
students who are affiliated with a campus group are more likely to progress well.
g. Classes are great at teaching you what’s been done and how to do things. But find your
passion and be willing to start small and early on your own time because making ideas
realized is a different than knowing the stuff.
- Temptations: Important to know that you are now in a place where alcohol, drugs and many
illegal temptations are legally forbidden but implicitly available. The only thing that stands
between you and a bad experience is your own good judgment and values that you have
learned and nurtured through life. Wise are those who learn from other’s mistakes.
- Communications: Do not fool yourself that you are now adult and you can deal all problems
yourself. If you have a problem, talk to your parents, who have more experience in almost every
aspect of life. Your parents and friends are only a phone call away. If you are feeling lonely or
homesick, you are not alone; all of the first year students around you are making the same
adjustment. Continue to adjust but always keep your support system – friends, family in place,
and communicate with them regularly. Communication with you will mean more to your
parents than you think. Surround yourself with good people, the type that celebrate your
victories, push you often, support and laugh generously.
- Finance: Manage money & resources wisely by careful spending and avoiding any impulse
purchases. Keep track of your financial budget and dates when you have to pay your bills/fees.
- Stress: During your university life, you will encounter several challenges and changes that may
increase your stress. But don’t let that happen and never get disappointed or think that you
have failed. If your intentions are clear and good and you act smartly with full attention you can
achieve anything, believe that all power is within you. Failure is only short term; if one door
closes another door will open for you. Remember that nothing can make you unhappy, if your
mind does not want to be unhappy. Continue to learn ways to control your mind and your
reactions through breathing, silence, smile, walk and meditation. If you encounter negative things
(e.g. anger, jealousy), try to balance them with good and beautiful things.
- Team or Group: Find groups, clubs or teams to join early, something you are passionate about.
The earlier you meet people and find a place to belong the sooner you will enjoy school. Find a
workout and study buddy and keep each other on track. Also, find something to hold on to
throughout school (e.g. playing some instruments (tabala, guitar etc.), music, yoga, readings,
going to temples, volunteerism etc.); this will help you to relax and ease your stress.
- Balance: Always make a balance and don’t neglect your health (physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual). Eat well, sleep well, have fun, study hard, communicate with parents and use campus facilities to enrich your life (I learned my swimming at IIT and UofT Swimming Pools).
- Cleanliness and Personal Hygiene: Regularly wash your sheets and clothes, keep things
clean and tidy around you and care for the environment around you.
- Social Media: You will be better off by keeping the embarrassing stuff off of Facebook/
social media. Discipline yourself on social media usage; this is the biggest time killer.
- Carelessness: Don’t leave your laptop, phone or valuable unattended. Someone might steal it,
but even worse someone might mess with your e-mail / Facebook status. Be good, feel good,
act wisely and always spend your time and resources wisely.
- Self-Reliance: Don’t defeat yourself. Always give your best. I remember a moment, when a
course seemed too hard in my Ph.D. degree at UofT, when the work ahead of me seemed too
much, but then I decided that if I was going to be defeated by something, I was at least going to
give it my best effort. I did not want to live with the regret that I did not succeed at something
because I did not even give myself a fair chance to succeed. Work hard but be practical in
your expectation to accept the outcome and choose your workload and subjects accordingly (practice to give your 100%). Having tool kits and capable of fixing things is a great way to break the ice and makes you a useful friend. Help others when needed with your skills, help friends move.
This is also one of the most emotional times for parents, especially if their oldest or youngest child is
going to school that is what is referred as ‘empty nest’, a difficult transition. Be calm and use this time wisely. Each child only starts university once. Therefore, this moment give us as parents an opportunity to say things to our children that will stick with them not only because of what is said, but because of when it is said. This is a time to impart your wisdom and experiences that have guided you in your life and ways that you hope they will live. As parents, we should help kids stay focused on school while balancing the rest of what life throws their way.
It is a big transition and it takes time for youth to learn how to be a university student, how to be wise in study, how to eat on time, how to do laundry and clean their room, how to handle money and how to keep a balance in social media and achieve their goals. All that takes some time, therefore, wait with patience and try to facilitate their smooth transition with full support. Help them grow properly with their potential and provide the advice, help and encouragement when needed. Thank you.