Whereas childhood is a time for well-rounded approaches, as a young adult, you'll need to narrow your focus in order to achieve excellence. Simply 'getting by' will not attract the right connections and opportunities you'll need to enter the job market.
My first year in university was a struggle. Having too much freedom, and not enough responsibility, was a recipe for trouble. I failed out of university. I was too afraid to tell my parents so I started working for McDonald's while pretending I was still in school. But I was lucky to have a mentor, an older student at my school, who said to me: "You can choose to become somebody or you can become a con man. It's up to you."
As a student, the steps you take today will shape your future for years to come. Here are some tips to help you navigate your way through your university years:
It is OK to be uncertain
Many students change their major—some even change it several times. It's okay if you don't know what to be. But work on finding out what you want. Childhood was the time for well-rounded approaches, but as a young adult, you'll need to narrow your focus in order to achieve excellence. Getting by will not attract the right connections and opportunities you'll need to enter the job market.
Don't be afraid if you have made the wrong first choice. The only bad decision is making no decision at all. Each wrong choice brings you closer to the right one.
Be the captain of your ship and master of your fate
Take charge of your time. Develop a realistic, sustainable and balanced weekly timetable to stay on top of assignments, deliverables, and events. Create a one-sheet, semester-at-a-glance calendar of deadlines, tests, and projects so that no important dates take you by surprise.
Sharpen the saw
A healthy lifestyle and academic success go hand in hand. Keep your mental health in check. Sleep, eat, exercise, laugh, and socialize. Having a healthy and happy brain better prepares you for learning. Reward yourself for your hard work. Do something each week that feeds your soul and helps you rejuvenate.
Failure is part of success, not the opposite of success. Don't be afraid to fail. It's part of the journey. Once you do fail, don't hide. Instead, get advice, minimize the impact of your setbacks and get back on your horse before your identity is altered.
Find a mentor
I don't know where I would be today if I didn't have a mentor who was there for me when I flunked out of school in my first year in university. Seek a mentor who can provide guidance when you face challenges. Your mentor could be a professor, advisor, friend or another student. Surround yourself with people who support you and believe in you. Cut out negative people from your circle of influence, who bring you down.
University can be a wonderful place and time in your life. I hope that you pursue every opportunity and that it is as enriching for you as it was for me.
(From an article originally published in The Huffington Post, 10/11/2016)