When getting to higher education, one’s life changes, and at the beginning of each year, we tend to feel rather lost and not exactly sure of what to handle first. It doesn’t matter which year of university you are in – with fresh starts, there are always opportunities to shake things up. Since university isn’t only about getting a degree, but learning to be an adult, here are 10 crucial tips to find your way around and take the leap.
1. GOOD INTENTIONS
Your faith should be sincere to Allah (glorified and exalted be He), and that the deed is intended for His sake. As the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
“The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim” [Tirmidhi].
Keeping this in mind will remind you why you actually go to university. If you have good intentions for your studies, Allah (glorified and exalted be He) will attach barakah to them.
2. SLEEP EARLY & WAKE UP EARLY
Sleep. Make sure you get the hours you need, and set a consistent time to wake up every day to maintain a routine. It is best to sleep for 8 hours between Isha and Fajr prayers. This will keep your energy level up so you can get more out of your studying and classes. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
“Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah” [Tirmidhi].
3. HAVE A FRESH START IN THE MORNING
Try getting up at least an hour before your lectures. Having breakfast really does help – as does taking a shower – to wake yourself up! Have a balanced breakfast to boost your energy, and if your class is in the afternoon, a balanced light meal beforehand helps as well.
Of course, don’t be late for your lectures, either: it’s much better to arrive five minutes early and have time to prepare, rather than rush in and have to start writing and listening straight away.
4. JOIN A STUDY GROUP
Students working together generally learn faster than those working alone. In addition, being a part of a study group helps you gain new perspectives. For instance, you might always understand some approaches the same way, while within a study group, you’ll start noticing that some things can be understood and expressed differently, therefore learned more thoroughly. Also, if you chose your companions carefully, you might learn new, even better, study skills. Look for potential students, both friends and classmates, that you can study and compare notes with.
5. DON’T HAVE LONGER BREAKS BETWEEN CLASSES
Having big breaks makes you less productive, which can be controlled while setting up your schedule and choosing subjects. Don’t forget that your schedule should be balanced and according to your capabilities. Where possible, try to have classes in the hours that you are more productive, especially the morning. Avoid having more than 2-hour breaks between classes to keep a consistent pace. Also don’t overload your afternoons after lunch; during this time, your body may feel lethargic and need some rest. If you prefer to study in the afternoons, then I recommend classes after 4pm when your mind and body are more alert.
6. JOIN ASSOCIATIONS AND CLUBS
This might seem difficult, but there are so many clubs and associations within a university, that you are likely to find something that suits your interests. This will help you in socializing and getting more familiar with your university and its atmosphere; and, the fuller your days are, the less time you have to feel lonely or to slow down. If you are not sure what to do, visit your university’s associations’ offices and ask for help.
7. DON’T OVER-COMMIT IN THE FIRST YEAR/SEMESTER
While getting involved and staying busy is always good, don’t force yourself to add another class, or choose all difficult ones in your 1st semester /year. Overburdening your schedule with many activities and events will only decrease your productivity and make you exhausted. Add more things if you have the time for it, but don’t overload your timetable. And remember, balancing between studies and your social life will always make you more productive.
8. GET ORGANIZED!
As a student, you will no doubt have much paperwork and information coming to you. This is why it’s important to have some system in place so you don’t get overwhelmed, especially with course-related work. Keep in mind that your schedule shouldn’t only have your classes and lectures, but should also include your part-time activities and study time. For instance, while setting up a schedule you should include:
- study/homework time
- extra-curricular and social activities
- work schedule (if applicable)
Study time should be according to the classes you’re taking and the work you have to do. For example, for each 1 hour of class, make 30-45 (or more) minutes to revise and study. Everything will depend on you and your capacity.
9. AVOID BAD INFLUENCES
At college or university, there will always be students who will have completely different perspectives about life, whether it is in terms of study habits, money/spending, relationships, or spirituality. Avoid hanging anyone with negative outlooks on these things too much, or you may find yourself getting involved in their expensive, destructive, or otherwise dissimilar lifestyles. Always recall the saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):
“A person is upon the religion of his close friend, so beware whom you befriend” [At-Tirmithi].
10. APPRECIATE YOUR TIME AT UNIVERSITY
It’s a unique experience that most people can only really go through once, so make the most of it. Some people focus so much on the fun side of things that they come away with a poor degree. Likewise, some people are so into their work, they neglect to make friends and gain other experiences. If you manage your time, you’ll be productive and be able to work hard and enjoy your time.
It is very common to think that you should be able to manage on your own and give the appearance that all is well. However, experience tells us that it is best to seek help. Hopefully, these 10 tips will be helpful for a fresh start that will allow you to have a balanced time for a productive use, insha Allah.
About the Author:
Yusra Ibrahim is a second year student in Business Administration, majoring in Management science. She is a vice president in a global leadership organization that aims to develop youth potential so as to make an impact on society. She’s also a member of a female Islamic youth club that spreads Islamic awareness.