7 Tips You Should Know Before Going To University
It's been 4 years since I finished university without having any degree out of it. During those 4 years, I was asked about university by people I could count on the fingers of one hand. And the about the degree? Not one.
I recently talked with one high-school guy and I realized that college is still seen as something sacred, important and mostly from no other than teachers and parents. I told myself that I'll write down my insights and advice that I would give my 8 years younger self. If you are 18-19 years're considering what to do next, go ahead.
Disclaimer: these is my personal experience with universities in Brno, Czech Republic between 2008 and 2013. It can differ for your country, your city, your year spend on collage, your field etc. Please consider that while reading. Well, if you are already on university. The main goal of this post to start discussion and challenge you and your personal experiences.
1. Ask Someone Who Didn't Go to College
I often received information from parents or from high-school teachers. It's like asking a Christian priest about religion. He will probably know a lot about Christianity, but he won't mention Buddhism or Islam in much depth.
This is called Confirmation Bias - people tend to take the information that supports their own point of view over those which would confront them. Watch out for him :)
2. Find Experienced People in the Field You Enjoy
I didn't do this because I did not know anybody like that. Today I would go to Facebook and look for a "psychology, php programming" and invited the top 3 results for coffee.
Why? These people can share real experience, with university, with job - they're like my 5 years older self I could ask for my path instead of having to walk it myself. This could save me 1-2 years of blind shooting.
Where to find such people?
There are cheap ways to find such people (in Czech Republic):
- Naučmese - courses from hundreds different people, who will gladly tell you about their experiences - I met a many interesting people here
- Facebook Groups - anything you like, it's there: media, programmers, marketers, copywriters, business, ppc...
- Eventigo - with similar focus groups as those above, Eventigo sends you weekly newsletter about free meetups and events you can visit and meet real people with same passions (or ideas)
3. The University can be Incubator
Without too much trouble, you can get 3 years time to explore the World and yourself. Rent and food is super cheap (like 4x times less than my current one), parent might help you with financing or you can find part-time - as student are very favorite labour force.
Don't wait it out, take advantage of it:
- Experiment with different activities in and outside university
- Take each semester 1 course from another field (faculty) - you don't even have to finish them, just go and see
- Taste the diversity of habits that will bring peers from other cities or country
- Take a risk, failure will never be cheaper - with a girlfriend, wife, business, contract, full-time work, child or mortgage this all will be very complicated
Fortunately, I got this idea already in high-school. Where I risked the most? I started to say more money for my work than peers. I risked unemployment and I was terribly scared that I would be rejected. If I had a monthly cost that I'd have pay (like now), I wouldn't dare.
As a result, I learned that the price is only contract. It's not about skills, not about work, not about experience, not about, not about contacts, not about age, not about degree. Well it is, but much less than what you really agree upon.
When we agree on 4 € per hour, it will be 4 €. When we arrange 40 € per hour, it will be 40 €.
It Will Be Over Soon
You will experience a lot of changes in freshman (first) year which you will need your time and effort. But remember - you have 3 years, they will end and so will this nice-and-easy period. Even if you're having a great time, try to do something extra.
4. Treat School as an Option, not as Salvation
A lot of my peers devoted 90 % of their energy to school and they didn't have any side interests.
It's like a work:
This is followed by...
5. Grades and Pareto 80/20 Principle
This took me 1,5 year to find out. So simple, yet to easy to miss.
- to pass an exam, it takes 20 % of work
- to pass an exam with A, it takes 80 % of work
The grade has nothing to do with intelligence, social status and skills. It's just a number on a test. That's it.
Same is for IQ. IQ only indicates your ability to achieve high scores on IQ tests. Nothing more. Trust me, I've studied on Faculty of Psychology.
The mark is an indicator ability to succeed in this test. Consider what is important to you and if you want to invest those 60 % to:
- raising letters and numbers in a database which will vanish in history when you leave academic land
- or in the self-development that you can build upon for the rest of your life
6. Most College Teachers are not Practitioners
This is my huge regret. Teachers teach at the school. People who stay at the school since their student years. They often have little experience in the art they teach. How it looks?
- The computer science was not taught by architect, who designs real processors or programs.
- The human psyche was not taught by therapist with 10 years' experience, who has helped hundreds of people.
But the professor who writes researches, marks exams and its main practice is lecturing and conducting seminars.
Could you imagine a world where this works?
7. Know-How Lag
The same way people social skills are lagging behind technical evolution, universities are lagging behind knowledge of present day.
I expected to learn hot news from the field. But I received more education in the history.
In my times, web technologies were forbidden topic. "It does not matter that PHP runs most of Internet, you will learn the electrical circuitry and programming processors."
This know-how-lag is even greater than on primary and secondary school. To find news, I had to rely on the Internet or my older friends.
Where are you?
Are you in high school? Do you think about going to university? Or do you already work?
Which point do find most useful? What would your advice be?
Let me know in the comments.