An open letter to incoming school leavers…

I’m all too familiar with the seemingly gargantuan, all-looming uncertainty that surrounds making the choice to pursue further education. How do I choose the right programme for me? What if I don’t make any friends? For some people even, ohmygodI’mleavinghomeforthefirsttime. These are just a fraction of the worries that occupy the understandably frenzied minds of school leavers getting into university.

Having gone through the first quarter of my first year, this is my searingly honest advice on making the most out of university life – lending colour and weight to the fact that while university can be a linear path, it rarely ever is. It meanders through a series of explorations; times wherein you may doubt your capabilities and whether it really is worth all the work, but likewise, times where you look at yourself and think, I’m proud of my progress.

Why should you consider my advice? I’m living the experience out as an international student from the Philippines who just one day decided, I’m getting too stagnant, I’m going to up and move somewhere else for uni (granted this is an oversimplification). Essentially, I have a tinge of an idea of how you’re feeling – the idea of being fully responsible for your own progress, the sweet taste of freedom to discover and explore your interests co-existing with the longing for the stability of your old routine, and the silver lining of it all – the transformation that comes with pushing the bounds of your comfort zone and being scared, yet doing it anyway.


Your choices are not the be-all and end-all

A significant portion of pre-uni anxiety comes from choosing which programme to do. Some people are entering university with a career path etched in stone, and some are dubiously clicking ‘Submit application’ with not much of a clue about what exactly they applied for. It’s easier to say than to believe because, often, it feels like your future is hanging on your current decisions but truly, you are never consigned to your first choice.

No matter how much of a fork-in-the-road-never-turn-back moment it may feel like. If you dip your toes in say, Law, and later on end up thinking it isn’t for you, there! are! options! The advisers at Student Hubs can help you flesh out your options, so don’t be afraid to reach out! There are plenty of university students who decide that a certain path isn’t for them, and it’s completely fine to decide so. If at this point you’re still feeling iffy about your programme choice, give it a shot – it might work out, it might not – but finding out what doesn’t work for you gets you closer to finding out what does. 

Find a friendly face – or better yet, be one! 

As you enter university, you say goodbye to familiar faces and hello to new ones. It’s quite a different environment. You get exposed to way more people than you do in high school – and that’s a good thing! At first, it might seem intimidating to walk into a lecture theatre filled with hundreds of students, but keep in mind that (as annoyingly redundant as it is) everyone is in the same boat as you. The person sitting next to you could use a friendly conversation just as much as you could, and a simple ‘hi’, ‘hello’ could lead to a solid support system down the path.

One of the best ways to make connections is by joining the wide variety of clubs available at uni, where you can find people with common interests! Doing uni in the context of community absolves us of carrying all the weight on our own which in turn, makes your journey so much easier, and *so* much more fun!

No one knows

There are times when it seems like everyone but you has been given a guidebook to uni but actually, no one knows! We’re all trying to figure stuff out and finding our way. Sure, there will be a couple people who know more than you about a topic, but it’s a great opportunity to gain more knowledge and possibly new interests! In turn, you can introduce others to subjects that fall within your strong suit. After all, we all have something to learn from each other.

Bottom line: from the outside looking in, it can all seem unnerving, but the brushwork of uni is broader than just academics; it’s a growth opportunity to rediscover yourself and connect with people you can come to when the frenetic toll of uni work and life in general comes rolling in. Good times come and go – but they come.