How to make the MOST of university

How to make the MOST of university

Being a student is about more than just getting a degree. There are so many things to do at university, so make the most of it while you are there.

If you are studying a typical undergraduate degree, university is going to be a three to four year-long period of your life. That may sound like a long time when you first start but it will fly by and you will be graduating before you know it.

Indeed, it is often only after graduating that people realise how unique the experience of being a student is. You don’t want to look back with regret after you graduate because you took the flexibility, resources, and opportunities available to you for granted and never took advantage of them.

If you want to look back on university as the best years of your life, you need to make the most of it while you are there.

Things to do at university

Something that you will hear a lot between applying for university and applying for your first graduate job is that a degree is not enough on its own to make you stand out from the crowd. You need to get involved in activities outside of the classroom to accelerate your personal development and build your CV. Plus, you’re paying a ton of money to go to uni, so if you only attend your classes and don’t take advantage of everything else on offer, you’re not getting good value for your money.

Luckily, there is no shortage of things to do at university. Here’s a brief list of common ways to improve your student experience:

  • Joining a society
  • Joining a sports club
  • Taking part in fun volunteering projects
  • Attending skills workshops

Always wanted to have your opinion published for everybody to read or put your photography skills to use? Get involved in your student magazine. Mad about gaming, knitting, LARPing, or some other specialist pursuit? Join a students’ union society and meet like-minded people. Want to keep fit and learn how to defend yourself? Join a martial arts club. Want to compete athletically? Join a sports team.

You get the idea.

University offers these types of opportunities and more, all with a low barrier to entry. They are usually cheap or even free to get involved in and give you access to facilities and resources that would be impossibly expensive or difficult for you to access as a non-student. Not only do they make being at uni way more interesting, but they also help you meet people and make friends.

The key thing is to find something that appeals to you and actually commit to getting involved in it, rather than just thinking it might be a good idea one day.

Explore all the opportunities you can

Once you are at university, you will be presented with lots of new opportunities to get involved in, new people to meet, and a new environment to explore. Take advantage of this by trying lots of new things in order to see what your new home has to offer. Make an effort to meet lots of people so that you have the best chance of finding a group of friends you relate to.

Sample any extra-curricular activities that seem appealing, but don’t feel the need to commit to any of them. Just get a taste of the kind of things you can do at university, then stick with the ones you want to get more involved in and ditch the rest. Use your time as a student to stretch and discover yourself. Try new things. Make mistakes and learn. It’s all part of the fun.

Universities are well-resourced with lots of facilities. Take advantage of the expensive equipment, learning resources, technology, support services, career advice, and spaces on campus you can use. You are paying a lot to go to university, so make sure you get your money’s worth!

Use your time wisely

Your course timetable will affect your ability to engage in extra-curricular activities. If your course hours are approximately 9am-5pm, you may have limited spare time on your hands. A more sporadic timetable will give you more flexibility, but it will make it easier to become undisciplined with how you spend your time. Either way, you will benefit from structuring your day and developing a routine that builds in time for specific activities.

Regardless of your exact course hours, here are a couple of key principles to follow in order to make the most of your time:

Don’t think of gaps between classes as dead time that is there to be wasted. Use it to study or take part in scheduled/group activities. There are so many things to do at university; don’t spend all your free time watching YouTube or Netflix.

Don’t waste mornings without classes by staying in bed. Get up and be productive. Regardless of your timetable, get into a routine of studying through the day at least five days a week. Study first, have fun later.

With a bit of discipline, you will be able to get your studying done for the day by late afternoon. Then you can switch off and chill in the evenings. You will enjoy the fun stuff so much more when you also have the satisfaction that your work is already taken care of.

Get involved early

To get the maximum benefit from the extra-curricular stuff, get involved when you first start university rather than leaving it until later on. You will have more free time in your first year and you will build friendship networks and experience that can help you later on.

In your final year, you will be too focused on your work to start engaging with extra-curricular activities, so don’t hesitate—do it while you can.

Having said that, it is never too late to get involved in things at university, so don’t feel that you have missed your chance if you don’t get involved early. As the Chinese proverb goes:

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

The main thing is to make sure that you leave university with not just a degree, but also with a healthy share of lifelong friends, personal growth, and memories. In the long run, you are way more likely to regret what you don’t do rather than what you do, so get involved. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.