Dear University Students:
As you prepare to enter or return to university, please receive the following advice based upon my observations during my time at university.
1. Be yourself.
Being in a new environment where nobody knows you can provide you with the temptation to pretend to be someone whom you are not, simply to become accepted into a particular group. Please overcome this temptation quickly, otherwise you may find yourself emotionally exhausted which will negatively impact on your effort to study. It is beneficial to attempt to change your behaviour to eliminate some unhealthy habit, but attempting to change your personality can be a tiring and embarrassing exercise.
2. Have a positive attitude about learning.
Developing and maintaining a positive attitude about your studies can make learning pleasurable instead of something to be endured. This attitude should be maintained especially for subjects that you do not believe are directly applicable to your chosen career path.
3. Listen to classical music.
Listening to long complex classical musical renditions can help to train your mind to receive sustained complex information that you must receive from your professor or from your technical textbook.
4. Study under different conditions.
If you find that you have difficulty concentrating, then try modifying your study environment. Try a quiet library or a crowded cafeteria or a comfortable common room. Also try studying in rooms with walls of different colours and spaces with varying light intensities. Keep trying until you find the right environment for you.
5. Understand the information.
Make an effort to understand the information conveyed to you rather than simply attempting to remember it. If you only remember it, then it will be retained as information in your brain. However if you understand it, then it will become knowledge to you, and when impacted by wisdom can yield something creative. If you have difficulty understanding the information, then ask your professor to explain it again, read the introductory chapters in the textbook, read a rudimentary prerequisite textbook from the library, but please don’t settle for remembering just to pass an exam, strive to understand.
6. Resist peer pressure.
I have witnessed quite a few Caribbean students, including Barbadians, who failed to overcome the temptation to use drugs, and never got to complete their studies. Don’t worry about what others are doing, resist the peer pressure.
7. Don’t become distracted from the goal.
After you have graduated, there is plenty of time to seek a mate. When I entered university, I met a fellow Caribbean student in his second year of study who would not resist the temptations of the local girls. He finally got one pregnant. Ten years later, he had 3 children and was still struggling to finish his first degree while working to support his family. Girl (boy) friends are significant distractions to serious studying if the relationship becomes intimate.
8. Mature as a person.
Spend these years wisely. Participate in sporting events, develop friendships (not intimate ones) with people from other parts of the world, become an active member of one of the student organisations, and join a nearby Church.
9. Know the Lord.
You may be attending a university in a country where the Lord is not exalted to the same degree that He is here. He may have been many years ago, but their current generation may have rejected the God of their grandparents and chosen for themselves gods of money, beer, and sexual gratification. It is vitally important therefore that you develop and maintain a close relationship with the Lord Jesus. If you spend time communing with your Creator, who has all knowledge, then you can only benefit.
10. Don’t get caught up with causes.
There is a lot wrong with the world, and the world needs people who can articulate the problems and propose solutions. Your time at university will provide you with some tools used in defining problems and designing solutions. However don’t become embroiled in activism. It is not your time yet. Some circumvent the process and become activists too early, long before they have been taught the tools of designing solutions. They therefore run the risk of constantly being negative and critical and unable to propose workable solutions, only idealist jargon.
I wish you good success in your studies and trust that you will be patient in your academic learning and personal development.