Recently I saw a posting on Facebook asking for advice for the new university intake at my university regarding life when they finish their course. While I wrote a few lines I felt that it did not do my thoughts justice, and so I wrote the following.
Firstly I offer my congratulations for getting to university. This demonstrates your academic prowess and your willingness to work hard. It also justifies all of those parental sacrifices and gives relations the ability to impress their friends.
I also hope that being at the university is what you also want and that you are following subjects that will give you excitement and pleasure. Just because people are good at things doesn’t mean that this is what gives them pleasure.
However, whether it is what you want to do, what you were told to do or what you were expected to do, the secret for the next three years is to enjoy and to make sure you take control of your life.
When you finish your course, the first thing you will discover is that your degree is not the key that opens Pandora’s box. Having 500 friends on Facebook doesn’t make you the most desirable commodity on the job market and having lots of likes for your inputs to social media does not guarantee you a high profile job writing blogs.
You also need to remember that reality TV is the most badly named genre on TV. Life does not come to you with goodie bags and invitations through fifteen minutes of fame.
When you leave university you will enter the most competitive era of your life. It will also be the most exciting as the opportunities facing you in this fast moving world have not even shown themselves in some cases.
You will also enter a world where you can expect to live and work longer than any previous generation. For that reason you need to make sure that you decide to do something that YOU want to do and which will give you pleasure for the first part of the next sixty years.
I say the first part, because you are likely to change careers several times as the world changes. It may be a job connected with your degree, it may be something completely different, perhaps even running your own business or working in a charitable organisation.
When you left home, the parental role for your upbringing passed to you. You now have the flexibility to do all of those things that you felt your restrictive parents wouldn’t let you do. The only person stopping you from now on is you. You can choose the safe option and follow the crowd or you can follow that dream you always had.
Use university to increase your knowledge, but also use it to develop your adult relationship skills. Use it to dream and to work out how you will follow your dream. University gives you much more than a three-year extension to academic learning, unlike people going straight into work, it gives you the opportunity to develop your personal skills and it gives you time to think and plan.
Don’t waste it. I promise you that in 20 years time you will be more annoyed by the things you didn’t do than those that you did.