Stop Studying, and Make Your University Life Amazingby Maisarah [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]
“The most wonderful years in your life will be your university and studying years.”
So do we want to spend those years drowned in books, getting sky-high CGPAs and miss out on the fun?
Heck no, of course we don’t.
So can we compromise a great CGPA for just a good one? Of course we can.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against books – or learning.
I love books. I love learning. When I was in kindergarten, I was reading at the pace of forty books per week and was my own brand of Matilda. That passion to read has not left me since, but it did die down reasonably when I stepped into university. I studied my hardest for high school because I knew getting into university depended on your grades, but once I was in, I said goodbye to books for a good four years and a half until I graduated.
I can’t remember which wise sage said it to me first, but I learned that once you’re in university, you’re pretty much safe. Keep your grades good, and as long as you know how to go through a great interview and have an interesting resume, insyaAllah you should have no problem landing a job. Companies no longer look for these book-smart kids who score so high. They look for another kind of quality. They go for street-smart. And as someone who is now in the workforce, I can certainly vouch for that.
Which is why I think it’s so important to say, again and again: Put down your books and go out there.
“Yeah, I know, I heard about it too. Companies can accept lower CGPAs for soft skills… but my grades –“
NOPE. STOP RIGHT THERE. NO BUTS.
University life only happens once. Second degrees, masters and PhD aside, it only comes once. You’re at that prime age only once. You don’t want to look back, fifty years or twenty years or even ONE year down the line and think “I wish I had done more than just study”.
You don’t want that. Trust me.
Go out there. See the world. And no, I don’t mean taking a round-trip across Malaysia or overseas (though if you can land that opportunity, go for it). I’m talking about experiences. Things that maybe you want to do just once in your life because it’s fun or because you haven’t done it before. And because it’s cheap and priceless.
Like going out with friends to the hot springs and coming back late once – only once – and getting penalized for discipline. Like staying up late with a friend and missing sleep, crying over sad scenes in Battlestar Galactica even though you have an 8.30am class to attend the next day. Like signing up for martial arts without any friends only to discover you love it. Like running a 2.4km route twice to see whether you can make it into ROTU – both Navy and Ground – even though you’re not really going to sign yourself up as a reserve soldier. Like buying blue cheese with your best friend to eat with bread and apples, only to discover that you both can’t stand the taste and will never touch that stuff again. Like staying up late working on stuff to bring to an awareness campaign the next day, dressed as kids while handing out helium balloons in the middle of the day at the streets of KL for your NGO.
Can you catch my drift here? Or do we need more examples?
Like organizing events for your club and faculty and getting things wrong, so wrong, making a disaster out of the whole thing. Like playing the PSP under the table during class because you really hate the subject. Like delaying studying for weeks, and not sleeping the night before the exam because you finally have no more excuses NOT to study for what’s to come. Like making bets with your friends on who can get out of the exam hall first, regardless of how well you’re trying to answer your exam questions.
What? Still don’t get what I’m getting at here?
Like volunteering yourself as an emcee during a Japanese festival even though your Japanese sucks – and then being forced into a yukata for nine hours, not being able to sit down properly with your back so straight. Like making a legendary music video with Michael Jackson’s song for an assignment with the intent of making your lecturer spill his coffee when he sees it. Like sitting at the library until 3am to help your juniors, in denial that you need to help yourself.
Yeah. Things like that.
Those weird experiences… those are all mine, when I was in university. Now it’s time to make your own precious memories.
What I did during my university years weren’t really big things. Sure, my class went to Langkawi right before our last semester, and my scholarship friends and I went to a Tony Buzan seminar filled with only old and boring business people needing to be taught how to be creative. Those were, I guess, among the big things. But it’s not those moments that really stick with you. It’s the little things. The foolish things. The things you did and swore never to do again because it was embarrassing, or weird, or plain traumatizing. The things that you just can’t do again, even if you want to, because those years are over now. Those are the things that will matter when you reflect back to your university years.
Do you know why those things are important? Those memories?
Really, do you know why? (Apart from the fact that this is probably going to be some lame excuse to have the best time of your life).
It’s because these experiences shape who you are. They influence your thinking, and they expose you to the world. Not the whole world, mind you. I’ve yet to see the Everest, or the Grand Canyon, or the pink lakes in Australia, or the wonders of New Zealand. But I’m exposed to the little things like getting fined by the police, eating blue cheese, trying my hand at martial arts and walking along the streets of KL dressed as kids and handing out free helium balloons. I am exposed to all that. And when I answer my exam questions, and when I go for job interviews or write cover letters for my resume… I’m different. So I stand out. A bit.
And you will be, too. Because you’ll be unique.
You’ll have gone through things that others won’t have, and that will reflect in your exam questions, your interviews. It’ll reflect through your personality and confidence level, your ability to talk and relate to people. It’ll reflect all that is wonderful and unique about yourself because you’ll have invested in getting to know yourself, at a deep level. And that is something no university can teach you, even though university is the best platform to discover it.
So go ahead. Trade a great CGPA for a good one, if it means getting so much more in return.
It’ll be the best years of your life.