Congratulations, you achieved the goal of getting into university…but so so did thousands of others. A university degree is an increasingly common commodity. So now that you’re, here it may be time to ask yourself, why was getting to university so important? Saying, because I want a degree, is a little vague and a vague goal will at best not help you, and at worse, hurt you. Goals that motivate and produce results, are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
You will doubtless have friends, family and acquaintances asking about your goals and plans for life at uni and post uni. Such questions possibly irritate you, but viewed positively, are an invitation and an opportunity to articulate your thoughts, to make them concrete, to share them with others who might advise or mentor you, and to work out specifics such as next steps, time frames and measures. Being able to acknowledge the importance and legitimacy of such questions and to begin to answer them, is a significant step in ensuring that you get the best from your university experience.
Universities of course provide the resources you need to study a wide range of disciplines; that’s the deal. But the other partner in the deal is you. Doing whatever it takes to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a learner and to do your best every day to be conscientious, proactive and adept in managing your learning, will produce the best results. It’s ‘a given’ that university courses provide discipline-specific knowledge. However the more astute learner, will quickly realise that university courses are also embedded with opportunities to grow and practice your skills as a learner as well as to practice the skills and behaviours (competencies) that will lead to success in the workplace and life beyond university. The wider university campus is also fertile ground for growth, with opportunities for learning and skill development through clubs, volunteering, mentoring, leadership programmes, industry and career seminars, career expos and more.
Most students have to balance paid work with their studies and it’s importance to remember that paid work of any type, provides yet more opportunities to practice skills and to observe and analyse how workplaces operate: employee-management relationships, staff training, performance and appraisal, customer communication and relationship management, business to business communication, and everyday business practices.
Leaving university with an academic transcript that you’re proud of should be your number one priority. But in addition, your university years, with SMART goals, can also become a fully rounded and enriching experience that you will value for the rest of your life, and that employers will be impressed by as you transition to the graduate workforce.