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12 Things I Learned as an Undergraduate Student

12 Things I Learned as an Undergraduate Student

I’ve learned many things during my time as an undergraduate student.

The last three years of university have flown by, and up until recently, the thought of the future terrified me.

What was I going to do with a degree I wasn’t sure about anymore?

How would I ever find my way in the digital media realm when my specialization was video production?

Recently, I’ve begun to feel a sense of self I have never felt before.

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but it could be the fact that my graduation is approaching in less than a year and I have to figure out what the heck I want to do with my life.

I’m still not exactly sure what I want to do as a career, but I have an idea of which direction I’m headed.

With practicum and internship coming up for me, it’s going to be an especially crazy school year.

Here are some things I’ve learned as an undergraduate student at Ryerson.

Working on a Macbook Pro

1. You’re not as unique as you think

This one might sting a little, but the reality is that unless you’re someone like Elon Musk, you’re not as unique as you think.

In high school you might have been the most talented at what you do, but that might not be the case in university or college.

In university, you’re surrounded by hundreds of other students who are just as intelligent and talented as you are.

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It definitely makes everything much more competitive, but it also allows you to build lasting relationships and connections with people who are just as great as you.


2. Bad grades are not the end of the world

In grade 12, anything less than a 90 was unacceptable to me.

I haven’t maintained that same thought in university as it requires so much more effort and time to get good grades.

As long as you actually listen in class and do your work (not the night before it’s due), you’ll be fine.

Sometimes profs mark subjectively anyways, so it doesn’t mean you’re not smart.


3. Time management is really difficult

One of the things I struggle with most as an adult is time management.

Between classes, meetings, and events, it’s difficult to find the motivation to study or begin assignments early.

What I find to be most helpful is taking my spare time and spending it at school to work on assignments.

Instead of going home after class, I’ll spend 5 hours working on homework at school.

There’s something about being at school that keeps me in school mode!


4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There’s nothing more stressful than trying to study something you don’t understand.

Ask your peers or friends for help, or even ask your professors.

If you’re not comfortable speaking in front of the entire class, meet your prof during their office hours.

Helpful tip: for essays, meet your prof during office hours and ask them to critique your thesis (they’re not allowed to read entire essays prior to the deadline).

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5. You need to put yourself out there

I’m a very shy person, and that can sometimes appear as standoffish.

In order to make friends and build connections, you have to put yourself out there and make an effort to be outgoing.

Make an effort to break out of your comfort zone!


6. Work hard

Hard work leads to success and nothing good comes easy.

Cliché as those phrases sound, they’re true.

If you slack off, you’re going to pay for the consequences later.


7. Take time to breathe

Relaxation and self care is super important.

Take breaks and do things that make you happy to keep you from being too stressed or even having nervous breakdowns.


8. Be humble

Stay grounded and don’t ever lose yourself.

You may be talented or you may have gotten a certain opportunity others may never get, but remember that many people are just as intelligent as you are.

You’re not better than anyone just because you have better grades or opportunities.


Things I learned as an undergraduate student | lessons learnt in undergrad university | what I learned as a Media Production student at Ryerson University's RTA School of Media | useful tips for college students | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog

9. Plan out your future courses way ahead of time

I’ve had a document on my computer titled “Course Plan” since first year, and it’s just a list of all the required courses and courses I want to take every year.

This way, I don’t have to stress about it when course selections rolls along.

It also helps you to keep track of all the courses you’ve taken and need to take, so you’re not stuck stuffing courses into your schedule in your last year.


Things I learned as an undergraduate student | lessons learnt in undergrad university | what I learned as a Media Production student at Ryerson University's RTA School of Media | useful tips for college students | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog

10. Plan out your minor courses ahead of time

Ryerson minors require you to take an additional six courses, so it’s important to plan your minor courses in first year.

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Luckily for me, I was able to apply two of my elective courses to my minor, so it was only an additional four courses for me.


11. Find as many good opportunities as you can

If a good internship or work opportunity comes, take it.

Get all the experience in the industry you can while you’re still in school, but never settle for an internship that only makes you serve coffee.


12. Don’t be afraid to take risks

Don’t worry about not having enough experience or skill and don’t be afraid to try new things – just go for it.

Here’s one of my favourite inspirational quotes by an anonymous person:

You’re never going to be 100% ready and it’s never going to be just the right time, but that’s the point. It means that every moment is also the right moment. If you want it, you just have to do it. -Anonymous

Inspirational quotes to help motivate you

Things I learned as an undergraduate student:

  1. You’re not as unique as you think
  2. Bad grades are not the end of the world
  3. Time management is really difficult
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  5. You need to put yourself out there
  6. Work hard
  7. Take time to breathe
  8. Be humble
  9. Plan out your future courses way ahead of time
  10. Plan out your minor courses ahead of time
  11. Find as many good opportunities as you can
  12. Don’t be afraid to take risks

These are just a few things I learned as an undergraduate student.

If you’re an undergraduate student, I hope this helps you, and if you’ve already graduated, I hope you can relate to some of these points!

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What are some of the things you’ve learned as an undergraduate student? Or if you’ve graduated, what are some things you learned while you were in school? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram!

P.S. if you liked this post, you might like this post on ways to relieve your stress as a student, or any of my other posts on career and finance tips.

If you’re currently a student, you can sign up for a free 6-month trial of Amazon Prime Student, which gives you 2-day delivery, Prime Video (stream free TV shows and movies), Prime Music, Twitch Prime, all for free!

Be sure to keep up with me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest if you aren’t already!

Jessica Lam | Toronto lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and travel blogger | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog

Things I learned as an undergraduate student | lessons learnt in undergrad university | what I learned as a Media Production student at Ryerson University's RTA School of Media | useful tips for college students | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog

Cameron

Sunday 23rd of April 2017

All of these are amazing tips! I wish I would've known some of these sooner. While a bad grade isn't the end of the world, depending on what you're going for - pre-med specifically - a bad course grade can kill your GPA. While it means you have to do a little more in other areas to make up for it, it definitely won't ruin the rest of your life. But good grades certainly make things easier, especially for grad school!

Kaitlynn Charalambopoulos

Thursday 20th of April 2017

I learned the hard way that taking breaks is important!! I was trying to manage too much all the time and put too much pressure on myself everyday. These tips are great. I also learned the hard way that I had to plan my classes ahead of time since I'll be in school for an extra year. Oh well, its all okay in the end.

Sogie

Monday 3rd of October 2016

All true, a bad grade isn't the end of the world it happens to everyone and time management is key. You need to plan your time well so the days don't go by in a quick blur. I recently put up a post similar to this and you could check it out. Itsdivadiaries.com

Jessica Lam

Monday 3rd of October 2016

Thanks for the insight Sogie!

Elle

Monday 5th of September 2016

I agree with how difficult time management is! It takes discipline to stick with the plans in my to do list. For me, what helped was waking up early in the morning because it is during the morning when I am super productive. I notice that I tend to get lazy to do work after school. :) | www.azedelle.com

Jessica Lam

Tuesday 6th of September 2016

I'm also a morning person, it's so difficult to motivate yourself after a long day of school haha!

Emma S. Cheng

Monday 5th of September 2016

Hi Jessica, I really enjoyed reading this post! I will definitely work on points 5 and 7. Thanks for sharing and have a great day!

Jessica Lam

Tuesday 6th of September 2016

Thanks so much Emma! Have a great school year 😊

Jessica Lam

Monday 5th of September 2016

Thanks so much Emma! Have a great school year 😊