15 March 2021

Debunking #UniLife Goals

Majority of students enroll in university with almost the same buzzing thought: 

Uni life? YAY! Time to mix and mingle.

It’s true that getting into university is indeed a very exciting period. The constant partying, having lots of free time, and going out every other weekend portrayed in majority college dramas and series sound dreamy to every student. I’m sorry to break your bubble, freshies, but this is major wishful thinking rather than reality. I remember looking forward to living my life when I started my first year, only to find that this lifestyle is as real as Santa Claus and unicorns. If you want to avoid feeling stunned or overwhelmed, brace yourself for these truth bombs about the reality of varsity life.

Myth #1: Uni Life = Only Partying or Studying 24/7

The person who first claimed that uni life is a series of parties must’ve come from Neverland. Au contraire (sorry to be the one to break it to you) but partying is one of the last things in most undergraduates’ minds. Plus, with us in the new norm, you’ll probably wonder, “What parties la?”

For most universities, a semester consists of 14 weeks condensed with lectures, practicals, assignments, quizzes, and presentations. To put it simply, your time management skills will have to reach new heights (eg. completing an assignment in 3 hours). You may try to hop on the ‘non-stop party’ train but, unless you’re amazing at time management, know that there’s a high chance of paying the price through repeat fees and could give you a one-way ticket to failing academically! Take it from a graduate, you’ll definitely see more library books than disco lights! 

With that being said, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! You definitely wouldn’t want your university experience to only be about your academic achievements. Here’s where the fun comes in — through the various activities hosted by the different clubs and societies and extracurricular activities by the schools. Remember to check them out for a holistic university experience!

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Myth #2: The Most and Least Valuable Majors

“X degree is useless, Y degree is helpful.” 

“Your bachelor’s degree is worthless.” 

With the current unemployment rate, the ‘new normal’ pandemic life, and a lifetime’s worth of debt to repay, these comments certainly DO NOT help. At times, students may wonder: “Was getting my degree worthwhile?” The answer to this question is simple: It depends on what you do with it

Anyone can say that your degree is less valuable than the rest. Prove that it’s worth every penny by acting upon the knowledge you gained or turn it in a head-fake learning.  

What's head-fake learning? Well, imagine how parents send their kids for football or netball practice. It's not merely for the sake of honing passing or shooting skills. It’s more than that. It’s having their kids learn values like teamwork, sportsmanship, and perseverance, skills equally as important as the skills or talent to play. And that works similarly with university.

Hence, there’s no need to rank programmes. Your future career may not involve your major, but you’ll definitely experience mental stimulation as your university life goes beyond books. You can’t control the labour market or job demands, but you may prove that your degree is worth the effort by hustling and persevering no matter what is thrown in your way.

Debunking Uni Life Goals 2

Myth #3: Moving Out!

The much-awaited freedom of having personal space to do all the stuff you’ve seen in movies — binge-watching Netflix, thrifty meals, and high chances of a disrupted sleep schedule. Ah, what a life!

Moving out was one of the things I personally looked forward to because it symbolised one thing — adulthood. However, for various reasons, you may also have to settle down for the last option: staying home. 

Moving out may have its perks, but looking at the bright side, staying with your family has several strong points too. First, it’ll make you become a more responsible student (no sneaking out for late-night parties!). You’ll avoid burning a hole in your pocket from accommodation and electricity bills. Finally, and most importantly, when you’re going through a tough time, your loved ones won’t just be a phone call or miles away, they’ll be right by your side.

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Myth #4: No Worries About Work-life Balance

Studying. Working. Socialising. Being a university student comes with a whooole lot of responsibilities, especially if you’re also working hard for your money. This translates to blocking hours of your day. 

Friendly Reminder: Talk to your lecturers/tutors regarding working a part-time job. 

Why? It’s to inform them regarding your extra responsibility and discuss consultations that you may need. My friend who was working part-time in a restaurant almost couldn’t sit for her finals (due to absenteeism record) as she’s been missing out on some classes to cover shifts. Balancing between studying and making income is no easy feat. If you don’t study, that student loan would be in vain. If you don’t work, you may need to Google: ‘How to earn money from selling kidneys to buy textbooks’

Hence, have a mental check-in every now and then to re-evaluate if you’re having too much on your plate. With proper time management, you’ll have enough time to study and sneak an outing session every now and then.

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Myth #5: Majors Will Determine Your Future.

This is not entirely true per se. Our university programmes may or may not carry a major bearing on what we do in the future. 

While tertiary education serves as a solid foundation for your future job, nothing is set in stone! What should determine your future career is your passion, talent, and market demand. An acquaintance of mine, who majored in Business is now undergoing an apprenticeship, to realise his dream of studying at Le Cordon Bleu, France in the future. A colleague, who took a Master's in Engineering, is currently working towards being an auditor. Living in this pandemic era, the fate of youth remains uncertain as unemployment rises

However, there are several ways to improve your employability while waiting for that good news. It’s important to remain optimistic, be flexible, venture out into new opportunities, and be ready to embrace new skills outside your comfort zone.

Just like how all students are different and unique in their own ways, so are university experiences! While we all have expectations of what our experience would be, remember to enter university with a clear head and a solid plan instead. Don’t trust this bunch of hooey as it’ll quickly unravel itself, even in your first year. 

It’s up to you how you’re going to live the best years of your life and create your own memories!

Puteri Nelissa Milani completed her Bachelor of Business (Honours) Finance and Economics at Taylor's University in August 2020 and is currently working as an internal auditor with Maybank. She is also a journalist for the independent student-run organisation Financial Literacy for Youths: Malaysia (FLY: Malaysia). 

Puteri Nelissa Milani
Guest Contributor