The top three mistakes I made at University
Looking back at my time at University, I saw the pursuit of getting a degree as something that would lead to a fulfilling career and prosperity, as it was for all of my University peers. Due to the way I approached it, my University experience was filled with years of stress and uncertainty. If you are about to go to University or are currently an undergraduate then here are three of my mistakes that I hope you can avoid to ensure that your experience will not be such an immense struggle.
Mistake one: Not asking for help
I studied Politics at University, which was a degree largely assessed by writing essays. Even though I knew the subject matter and felt like I had something to say I was terrible at it. I never handed in an essay on time and I did not know how to write one. My process involved borrowing 10 books from the library that related to the essay topic at hand, read them all and then try to write a masterpiece on the first try.
Of course this never happened, all my essays were a rushed endeavour, submitted late, which left no time for feedback. Why did I not ask for help? Because I felt like I did not want to be exposed. I was at University after all, surely I should know how to write an essay in timely fashion at this stage in my life. Truth is I did not practice enough, I did not fail enough and I did not ask for help and so the cycle continued.
Mistake two: Not having more fun
During my time at University I remember spending so much time in the library and silent study rooms. I was trying to work hard and even spent a lot of time asleep as libraries are so warm! A friend shared how he would only spend a few hours of his day studying and then would be playing football and relaxing for the rest of the day. I couldn’t understand how he was being successful at his academic studies by only studying a few hours a day, shouldn’t he be studying the whole day, at least five days a week like I was?
Truth is I only needed a few hours of focused work a day to be productive with my degree. I could of used the remaining hours of my day pursuing other endeavours like playing football, learning a martial art, creating art, maybe even starting a side hustle.
Mistake three: Studying the wrong subject
My biggest mistake was studying the wrong subject because I did it to please someone else. My Dad actually studied Law and Politics at the same University I went to, Queen Mary. He only lasted about 8 months due to English not being his first language and trying to support a family with two children at the time. When he was in Bolivia my Dad was a few months away from his Law degree graduation, which he could not complete due to a coup d'etat.
I always felt his pain whenever he would share his dreams of becoming a lawyer, of what could of been, of him being so close, that he should of had his own law firm by now with my mum being his law secretary and that is why we were so poor.
That was his story, his desire, his dream and I wanted to complete it for him. I thought it was the right thing for me to do, after all I was not likely to go through a coup d'etat, English was my first language and I did not have the responsibilities of raising my own family yet. I thought about how great it would be to complete a Politics degree at the same University that my Dad went to and be the first in our family to get a Degree. Surely this would be the start of our prosperity as a family.
Despite wanting to study Politics, and being politically aware, the practice of writing politics essays was not aligned to my natural abilities and thus spent years at University struggling, being outside of my element and thus setting myself up for failure.