University is one of the most exciting steps in your life but also one of the scariest. You'll have lots of freedom and lots of extra responsibilities. You'll be making decisions, charting your own path, and figuring out what you want in life. You'll also have to learn how to live independently, manage your own finances, get along with roommates, and deal with an overwhelming workload. Let me share with you five tips to make the most of your university experience!
Number one, ground yourself.
Have a strong sense of identity, know who you are, what you stand for, and what your morals are. You're gonna be away from your familiar circle of family and friends. You'll meet people with ideas you haven't been exposed to before. You're gonna be in situations where you have to figure out what's right and wrong. Having a strong identity can help you make good decisions for yourself. It can also help you stand up for yourself, and stay true to what you believe is right no matter the circumstances. So work on developing an unshakable core, and stay connected with God and with people who remind you of what your values and purpose are.
Number two, create a strong home base for yourself.
If you're living on campus or away from home, make your room a place where you feel comfortable, decorate it, designate a place where you're gonna pray, get comfortable in it, it's going to be your refuge when you're feeling overwhelmed. Enjoying the Muslim Students Association. Being around other people who share some of the same convictions can help you feel secure in your identity. You'll find people who can pronounce your name right, and don't think you look or talk funny. You can take part in activities and events that don't compromise your beliefs. You'll be able to eat without worrying about if the food's halal, you won't feel pressured to drink to have a good time. The Muslim Students Association can also help you find prayer spaces, halal food options, and religious accommodations. If you don't have an MSA, you can start one.
Number three, take advantage of the resources available to you.
You'll be navigating a lot of new things, and your old ways may no longer work. If you're living on campus, you're gonna have to look for halal food, manage your finances and take care of your chores on top of your studies. If you're living at home, you're not home free, you still have to Dodge all the exams and work assignments coming at you every which way. You may feel alone and uncertain, you're definitely going to feel stressed and overloaded. But the good thing is that there's help out there. There's career counseling, writing workshops, time management workshops, mental health services, and religious accommodations. You've got professors who have office hours, and are happy to talk to you, and share with you, and advise you. Find out what's readily available and use the opportunity to grow.
Number four, don't forget what you came here for.
It's easy to get distracted because there's just so much going on. Remember, you're there to succeed academically. University is a completely different ballgame from high school, so what's worked for you in the past may no longer work anymore. You'll have to learn new study habits and techniques, it's going to be your responsibility to keep track of what you need to do and when, and to motivate yourself to get things done. Class sizes may be large and you may feel intimidated to ask questions when you don't understand. And your professors aren't going to be able to chase after you, they won't say anything if you don't attend class. So take responsibility for your education because that's what you're there for.
Number five, connect with the wider campus community.
Attending university is an opportunity to grow and find your place in the world, and getting engaged in the campus community is one way to do that. So get out of your dorm room, join clubs, explore your interests, and be of help and service to others.
If I had to add one more tip, I'd say enjoy it. Think of it as a wonderful adventure. You're going to broaden your mind, learn new things, meet lifelong friends, and become independent. There's nothing quite like it, and I can guarantee you'll miss it when it's over.