Introspection, self-awareness and authentic living are markers for this stage of life I’m in;

I reminisced about my undergrad days and looking back, there were a lot of things I wish I had done differently.

These are lessons I’ll take along with me when it’s time for graduate school, until then, I’d like to share these thoughts with you

 1. Network with people from all backgrounds

Apart from lectures and church service on Sunday, I was pretty much a recluse. If my lectures for the week ended on Thursday, I would stay locked in my room with food and TV shows and step out on Sunday morning for church. In our world today, we cannot underestimate the value quality social connections bring. I understand we all can’t be social butterflies but we all need somebody. Social media isn’t just social media, it’s an extension of real life, use it wisely. The secret to great opportunities is tied to the person you are yet to meet – this is a TED talk that will shed more light on this:

2. Learn how to learn

For many of us, we are not taught how to learn. We are enrolled in school and with a wave of a magic wand, expected to bury our heads in our books and be top of the class. Some people do find out what works for them but it would be much better if we knew how to learn and did this more effectively and efficiently. Learning is a lifetime activity and learning how to learn will open your mind to a whole new world. Coursera has a course with this same name: There’s a free course on Coursera to fix this – once you have a solid internet connection, you’re good to go:

3. Be a stellar student

This point may sound like a cliché and over-flogged but it is important to graduate with excellent grades. It makes post – uni life relatively easier regarding job applications, grad schools and getting scholarships. Resources are limited the world over so although examinations, in my opinion, may not be the best way in determining how smart someone is, that’s the best option we have now so burn the midnight oil and ace it. Being a stellar student involves being an active student; ask questions, answer questions, participate in discussions, join a study group, complete assignments and set up a meeting with the lecturer to discuss how best you could have answered the questions. Don’t be ordinary.

4. Know thyself and to thine own self,  be true

Universities are cultural melting pots, you meet people from all backgrounds and if you don’t know who you are, it’s easy to be swayed by popular peer opinions which may not necessarily be right and true. During my time, English was branded as the devil’s course and if you decided to take it as a single major, the “dinosaurs” in the department would fail you. I didn’t pay attention to what I enjoyed learning nor my transcript and decided to combine with sociology – to this day, it is a decision I regret. Finding your true self and crafting your self identity is no mean feat so please, take your time; dig deep till you get to the core of what moves you to do the things you do. This is a life long adventure because as we grow and learn, we change but these constant changes do not change who we are at the core. I took a personality test on and it was enlightening. I have no doubt, it’ll be beneficial on this path of self discovery.

5. Failure is a must for success

History is littered with success stories of great people who encountered failure at some point in time. Thomas Edison made 1000 attempts before the light bulb became a reality. Sigmund Freud was booed from the podium when he first presented his ideas to the scientific community in Europe. He returned to his office and kept on writing. When you check the roll call of people who hit rock bottom before they rose, you’d realize we’re in pretty good company. Like Nike, “Just do It”. If you fail, try again and again, repeat this process over and over till you achieve what you want. Every failure you encounter will present a learning opportunity to be better.

I know the things I know now and I would be doing myself a disservice if I lived short of applying excellence in all facets of life. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. What advice would you give to yourself as a student – as an undergrad or a postgrad?

This article was written by Dorothy Hammond. Read more posts from her on meduim here