Some advice on surviving university - from those who've survived

By YP Team and compiled by Ann Yip

Worried about starting university? Not to worry, the YP team, all of who have survived university in some way, offers you some advice

By YP Team and compiled by Ann Yip |

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Remember that one class will not dictate your future. You’re at school to learn, so take advantage of that and try as many different classes in as many different areas that interest you. Just because you’re an econ major doesn’t mean you can’t take classes in art or music. You’ll never have the same opportunity to learn about so much, so make the most of it. Try something new, don’t be afraid to colour outside the lines!

Ariel Conant - Cornell University, USA

I got quite disillusioned with my impractical yet expensive degree in first year. So I learned not to get too tied up with my degree, which did not matter much in the real world, and I decided to make the soaring tuition fees count by getting more practical experience. I wrote and edited for the student newspaper, I joined the student radio station and I worked a part-time calling job. Do things outside of your degree, but do something you can commit to. Sometimes, doing everything can be the same as doing nothing. And don’t forget to reserve some time to have your own fun. People always say how they had the craziest times at university, and it is true!

Ann Yip - University of Warwick, UK

University is all about balance. Unlike school, where you have scheduled time slots for each class, at university you need to figure out your own schedule, make sure you turn up having read the coursework, and be prepared to do some extra reading after the class, too. Getting the balance right doesn’t mean you should bury yourself in books for four years though. University is a great time for socialising and meeting new people from all over the world, so don’t forget to join clubs, societies and events to make the most of your time there in every way.

Lucy Christie - University of Glasgow, UK

Being in university means four years of total freedom to pursue what you love. Register for the classes that really interest you instead of ones that just promise good grades. I soon realised after graduating the grades really don’t matter much at all. When you’re a uni student, you’re young with nothing to lose – so if you’ve got ideas for a side project outside of your studies, whether it be starting a band, a charity, or writing an app, go for it. Along the way you’ll learn what you’re really passionate about in life, and meet valuable friends with the same interest, too. And if you ever get the chance, apply for a study-abroad semester. During my uni years I spent a semester in the United States, mainland China, and South America. The opportunities are endless – just don’t hesitate to try.

Melanie Leung - Chinese University, HK

Do: Make sure your days are structured. Set a routine, make plans, and keep a diary. This will make sure you stay disciplined work-wise, but will also give you things to do and look forward to during weekends, which can be surprisingly vacant once the initial partying has died down.

Don’t: Isolate yourself. When homesickness strikes, it can be tempting to stay in your room and message friends and family back home. This may make you feel better in the short term, but a better idea would be to join a society, go to an event on campus, or even ask your flatmate if they’d like a coffee.

Lauren James - University of Leeds, UK

For me, it provided a precious period of time to test out all my potentials. It’s a rare time that you don’t have to worry (too much) about passing exams or making ends meet. It was through the first year of study that I decided I wasn’t passionate enough about my major to make it my future career, through the second year of study that I realised that as much as I love my minor, I didn’t want to turn that passion into a job.

That’s when I decided on commit to journalism, and thanks to my experience with my university’s newspaper, I found myself at a good start when I graduated. Don’t be afraid of failure and don’t think of it as a waste of time, even if the experience doesn’t point you to the right path, at least you’d know which path to avoid. 

Young Wang - Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou

University is probably the last place where it's safe for you to try new things, and to fail. No fail as in flunk a class, but fail as in experimenting and finding out something just isn't up your alley. Take advange of that, go on exchange, do things you wouldn't normally do. Chances are, once you enter the real world, you'll have less time and more responsibilities, which might put a strain on new experiences you can indulge in.

Also, be passionate. Even if you're not at the top of the class, if you're enthusiastic, it will show. And don't stress too much about whether you're in the "top degree" or the "top university". My mum told me, and it's true, that if you're great it doesn't matter where you are, you'll still be great. Do your best, give it your all, and no one can deny that you've got what it takes. When I got accepted to Lingnan University, someone in my life told me, "if you're going to Lingnan you might as well don't go to uni." Fast forward five years later, and I was doing my masters at the university he hoped to get into but never did: University of Hong Kong. 

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt 

Heidi Yeung - Lingnan University