How to make the most of your university days

How to make the most of your university days

no substitute to hard work Kiran Mazumdar-ShawKiran Mazumdar-Shaw,
Chairman & Managing
Director, Biocon Group


As you start out at university, you stand at a crucial juncture in your lives. You must understand that your choice of course and career can affect the direction your life will take. So you must have a compelling reason to choose the course. For example, I wanted to pursue a career which had a scientific inclination and I opted for B Sc Zoology Hons., followed by a post graduate programme in brewing technology. Ensure that each and every incident at the university — formal as well as informal — is a learning experience. This will provide a strong foundation for your future. Never be intimidated by the newness of the subject or the environment. Be diligent about your studies. Remember there is no substitute to hard work. However, do make time for your hobbies — be it music, games or books. I was very studious at the university I attended but made time to pursue my interests.

Life at any university has enriching experiences, so be open to all of them. You will meet students from different backgrounds. Learn to be accommodating. If you join a foreign university, take interest in the culture and traditions of the land, blend in and foster respect. Try and be as participative as you can at various university forums. When I joined Ballarat University, Australia for a course in brewing and malting technology, I was the only woman student in my class as brewing was considered a male vocation. Instead of letting that affect me, I tried to enjoy each moment of my stay there. Because of the circumstances I found myself in, I became extremely independent and learnt to survive in a man’s world. It did wonders to my self-esteem and my sense of independence soared. I knew I would not merely survive in a man’s world, but thrive. I also learnt one of the greatest lessons of my life there — that I should never feel subservient because of my gender because I was interacting with my male colleagues on equal terms.

Harish Bijoor, Brand Expert

University life is a stepping stone to a different life altogether.  Universities somehow allow one to be a lot more free than early schools or under-grad colleges do. But it is necessary to maintain the sanity of a basic study discipline. In fact, one of the first things that goes out of the window when one enters university is the very study discipline that has shaped one and gotten one to university. Setting a timetable and a clear set of hours for study as opposed to a clear set of hours for extra-curricular activities and most certainly for sport and fun is a priority need.

My top tip is the one that is often heard but seldom practised. Read. Read a lot. Understand clearly that all the spare hours you have at university is a carefully engineered spare set of hours. These are hours that are meant to be used fruitfully in academic pursuit. Reading is an imperative that must not be compromised upon. University is a lovely place to build relationships that hold you in good stead through life.

Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation

I did my university education 42 years ago and times have changed. I believe one needs to react to the situation and act depending on the specific circumstance. The student-teacher relationship has itself changed; I can say this being a teacher myself. However all I would say is this is the best time to study, so make the most of it. As you grow older and start work, the mind’s ability to retain is reduced and work — not education — becomes a priority. University is  really the best phase of your life. Try to participate in as many activities and develop soft skills that can hold you in good stead later.

Jaisim, Jaisim-Fountainhead

Come 1966 and I was ready to enter the portals of higher education. Having being brought up as the eighth child — under no pressure to beat the peers —  I would have been happy to have been left to my hobbies of playing with the Meccano set and become a cycle mechanic. But everyone in the family is highly qualified. So I had to choose between studying Mechanical Engineering at Manipal or joining an unknown course called Architecture in the AC College, Guindy. The choice was simple: a capitation fee had to be paid for a seat in mechanical engineering but for the seat in architecture, nothing. I made a deal that if I was given a motor cycle to go to college, I would accept the second alternative!

The first year was a total mystery as very few knew what architecture was all about. Going to the Gandhi Mantap and sketching free hand — trees and monuments — filled up most of the time. The best of times were when I was riding my motor cycle, playing team games for the college and meeting people who knew very little as to what they were doing or supposed to do! Both class mates and seniors all seemed at a loss. It was like getting back to kindergarten — all play and no work. I loved it. But it was fun and that’s what you must have!

Manish Sabharwal, Chairman and Co-Founder,
TeamLease Services

Use your time at university wisely; the days are long and the years are short. The next few years will go by much faster than you think. So, expand the surface area of you mind and life by participating in academic and extra-curricular activities. Since university is when you make important life and career choices, be original and think big. Being original means truly deciding what you enjoy doing rather than what your parents want you to or your friends are doing. There is comfort in the warmth at the centre of the herd but passion always trumps intelligence, and you can’t be passionate about anything you don’t love. The other one is thinking big because the biggest danger in life is not aiming too high and missing but aiming too low and getting there.

Pavitra Shankar, Radio
Jockey, 94.3 Radio One

Make use of your valuable time at university by having an academic goal. Participate in sports and extra-curricular activities that energise your mind. Keep ‘cribbers’ at bay. Spending time with folks who have nothing good to say about anything is a terrible waste of time.

Ramesh Ramanathan,
Co-founder, Janaagraha
Centre for Citizenship and Democracy

Be yourself. Each of us has the ability to be so many people, as we make choices in our lives. Ask yourself what is it that interests you, and if you don’t know yet, try and keep as many options in your life to open these doors along the way.

Be flexible.  Most turns on the highway of life don’t come with signposts. There is an interesting Charlie Brown story about this. It is the first day of school, and as he comes home, Lucy asks him, “Charlie Brown, what did you sign up for in school today?” He says, “I signed up for Physics, Maths and History.”  Lucy asks, “And what did you get?” He says, “I got Chemistry, Geography and English.”  “So what did you learn at school today, Charlie Brown?” He says, “I learnt that what you sign up for and what you get are two different things.”

You cannot be the architect of your life, but you can certainly be the artisan of it. Embellish the situations you find yourself in, and you are bound to be happy.

Challenge the status quo. Never accept an explanation that goes something like, ‘Because that is the way it is’. Not good enough.  It is the birthright of the youth to challenge.

And, finally hold on to your memories. The days you will spend in university are ones that you will remember for the rest of your lives. The friendships that you will forge here, the corners of the buildings where you will argue and debate, all these are invaluable.

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