Almost exclusive until a few decades ago, campus life has become a rite of passage for almost everybody; it is eulogised and placed on a pedestal, a place where a teenager’s adult life, career, and a social life forms in those three to five years, depending on the duration of your course. With a college degree considered, perhaps falsely, as a passport to a successful job, you want your time there to becoming a springboard to fulfilling your goals afterwards in life. For most, this is the first time you live, make decisions, and manage your budget by yourself; you have just found the freedom to do anything and everything [almost everything] and this period of your life is pretty important: it can make or break you. Of course, you will make mistakes, some of them may even hamper your campus life, but learn much in due process and a never-ending stream of distractions will be in your face; thus, regardless of whether you are studying abroad or in India, there are a few things to consider before you are swamped by it all.
Your campus life is trivial no matter how large
Mistake not your campus with the real world, young Padwan. All but a minority of students accept and become actively engaged in their campus life, leading to comparisons with the real world, such as believing that a social hierarchy exists and becoming noticed, topping your class, or being “cool” is the most important goal you can achieve. The truth is that even the largest of universities are small in comparison with life, so please do not take it so seriously.
Other students are not “superior” to you
Tying into the previous point, you will start to place other students on a pedestal if you start believing that nothing is of more importance than your campus life. Forget this because it does not matter how far up the artificial social ladder they seem – “Oh, he is cool; I must try becoming friends” – everybody has their insecurities and instead of imagining such a hierarchy, do not place any importance on it: you are all in the same boat, working towards a degree and enjoying your campus life, while free.
Be flexible about where your degree may lead
Pigeonholing yourself according to your degree narrows your future employment opportunities and the truth is that many people end up working in fields different from their degree. Appearance, motivation, social skills, among other soft skills will define your corporate ladder ascent more than just your degree, with exceptions to certain technical jobs or those that require MBAs and other prerequisites; being flexible and open to learning different ideas and trying out different job roles rewards greatly.
Improve your vocational skills
Applicable particularly but not just to those studying arts or humanities and linked with the above idea, diversify your “employability skills” by attending classes that actually will help with finding a future job; some ideas include: basic accounting, culinary arts, personal finance, public speaking, web design, writing, and other such courses that improve your employability later in life. Also, vocational skills might be of great assistance if you are looking forward to finding yourself a part-time job to assist your recreational expenses, so as to enjoy your campus life. Bonus if your college offers such courses.
This may seem like this decade’s most overrated word but its importance should not be underestimated. A true meritocracy exists in Utopia and acknowledging this fact will help realise the value of contacts; this is not promoting favouritism but be friendly with and talk to everybody, not just your own social group. Oh, reduce your social media and meet people in person. Remember, you do not have to be everyone’s best friend but having the ability to converse quickly is quite important to have a fun filled campus life.
Work AND play equally hard
Manage your time well: shut the door to your neighbour’s distractingly loud music when studying full steam, and join the party after your study session. Do this and you will be known as the person everyone wants to emulate: the person who achieves the best academic results but is not boring and stays indoors all the time. If you and/or your parents are shelling a bomb for an education abroad, then ensure that you play your part and not waste the opportunity. However, go out and enjoy the cultural and campus life wherever you are because chances are that you will not have such an opportunity again.