Understanding How Your Education Empowers You

I was just wondering what you thought about managing social/extra-curricular life with university and the importance of those? And also, what do the writer/s of this article believe are the best years of ones life? As soon as you finish university you start working, and then working, and then you get married and have children, and you never really have any time for having fun if you want to get things done. How would you recommend to spend time in your life, not just in university, but in the bigger picture of time? Thanks, Marie

Hi Marie,

What a wonderful question! Your question brought in so many opinions in our Surviving Studenthood team (many of which comprise the Wonders of Womanhood team) that we decided to ask all the women of that group as well, and write a post in conjunction!

For your first question: “I was just wondering what you thought about managing social/extra-curricular life with university and the importance of those?”

We resoundingly agree that social/extra-curricular life makes up a bulk portion of the university experience. Outside of academics, extra-curriculars allow you to explore and develop yourself, develop new skills, and determine your interests. By depriving yourself of extra-curriculars, you miss out on the opportunity to explore new areas that could actually shape your career, interests, hobbies and passions – in essence, your future life.

I think our tough love post “How to Get Good Grades in University”, where we saw your comment, is trying to draw a distinguishing line between engaging in extra-curriculars to enhance  your university education, and allowing it to act detrimentally to your university education.  Students forget that the purpose of a university education is to do just that – educate you – and while education comes in many forms, the essence of university is academics, critical thinking, strong research and writing. To miss out on this affordable opportunity to develop those skills is a waste.

We are trying to encourage students not be short-sighted, and to draw as much value from their university education as possible.

As per your second question “And also, what do the writer/s of this article believe are the best years of ones life?”: this must also be in reference to our post, where we suggest that university is not the best years of one’s life.

Perhaps we should clarify: it is the position of these writers that university and education in general, should be approached with a “short term pain, long term gain” attitude. In other words – yes, university is an amazing experience. And, as you point out, it is a freeing time to have fun, before you have children, a mortgage, responsibilities and more. But look at it from our perspective: university is 4 years of your life. So you can either choose to party for 4 years and enjoy yourself, and then suffer for the next 60 years, or you can “suck it up” as we like to say, and recognize that you are at university to study, not socialize. Education is the key to your future, and we are trying to encourage students, through tough love, not to be short-sighted about the way they spend their time in university.

The common misconception that students have is “Can’t I do both?” or “Isn’t there a balance between work and fun?”. And our answer is? No, not really. “Balance” means you get to socialize 50% of the time, and you get Cs in school. Imbalance means you work your butt off in school and get As, and enjoy the social aspect of university about 5% of the time.

We recognize that everyone has their own style of learning, and that some people may get Cs for a number of reasons – not because they weren’t working hard. For the writers at Surviving Studenthood, university or college or trade school should be about self-development. That is what makes university such a wonderful experience – you have no other distractions, and you can work on bettering yourself. This is your chance – now is the time to seize your future and equip yourself with the skills you will use 10, 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years from now.

As for your last question: “How would you recommend to spend time in your life, not just in university, but in the bigger picture of time?” … I think the way to look at it to say – what do I want to get out of life, and therefore, how should I spend my time? Personally, I want life to give me good things – I don’t need a big house or fancy cars, but I would like to raise my children in a safe neighbourhood, to have to luxury of going on vacations every once in a while, to have the  option to take a year off when my child is born, to be able to give back to my community both financially and in giving a service … all those things result in a certain standard of living, and thus, I have agreed to put my time to achieving that standard of living. It doesn’t mean that at the end of a long day, I’m not sitting in front of the TV or cruising facebook; it means that I am willing to work very hard in school, and I am willing to do it often. It means that I use education as a tool to achieve my bigger goals, rather than using the freedom in school as a means to escape from life. The experience in university and the education you get, the skills you get, are supposed to empower you, not provide a method of escape.

There are so many people around the world who will never have the chance to educate themselves. You are so fortunate. You live in a country where higher education is available; where, for a reasonable fee, you can choose to study anything, learn anything, develop any skills, and better yourself in any way. What a luxury – how blessed we are to have this opportunity. And thus, we at Surviving Studenthood encourage every student to take advantage of the glorious opportunity and life-changing experience education will offer you. So many others ache to have the opportunity you have … don’t let it go to waste.

 

~ Surviving Studenthood & The Wonders of Womanhood

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8 responses

  1. Honestly, this was absolutely phenomenal! 🙂 Great advice!

  2. Aleena, we are so so glad you enjoyed this article! If you have any questions for us, please leave us a comment! We will write a lovely post for you 🙂

  3. Spendid info! … i have a question, by the way i started university, i study most the time, understand the material well and have confidence in the answers i pick… but in the end, i end up as a class average! (mid-term)… and i cant understand why… it would be nice if you could answer this…

    1. I think, natiac, that this is an example of working hard, but maybe not working smart. My recommendation would be: (1) speak to a Teaching Assistant (T.A.) or Prof about the mistakes you made. (2) Get a tutor – perhaps someone who has been through the courses/program and done well can give you an example of what is above-average work, and show you how to achieve it. (3) Make sure of the academic resources available at your school: many universities have academic counsellors, and someone will review your paper or work to give you feedback, prior to handing it in.

      If you can tell us your program, we can try to give you advice that suits your specific area of study.

      1. I think i can get (2) done. But (1) and (3), no… i don’t get my papers at all, all i get get is the over-all chapter statistics (chapter %) through mail. And i am thinking of meeting my T.A. soon.
        Thanks again!

        1. I definitely recommend meeting the T.A. or talking to the Professor during their officer hours so that you get a better sense of what they are looking for. And the Professor can recommend a tutor for you, as well.

      2. I am doing basic Engineering, will choose Mechanical Engg next year.

  4. Thank you for the lovely article,i feet truly motivated.

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