How I learned to enjoy university life

My suggestions from four years of studying at UTM

Dear students of UTM,

My name is Rishabh Dev. I am a proud student of the university and studying in my fourth year. I am part of the students’ union and an executive of the Hindu Student Council.

I still remember how I struggled in my first year. The studies in the first year of the university are very different than what they were in high school. Everyone needs transition period from school to university—some take a couple of months, others take a full semester, and a few may transition throughout their whole first year.

I took four credits in my first year, but I did not do as well as I hoped. I wanted to perform much better in my second year. I looked around for advice from my upper-year friends. Many of them came forward with their valuable advice and suggestions, enabling me to improve my academics and social life. My first exposure to UTM social events was when I took part in Hindi Day. This event gave me a lot of courage and exposure. I decided to join DECA, which was a business competition at the province level. In the meantime, I started applying for part-time jobs. My first job on campus was at the UTM Bookstore, where I worked as a customer service representative.

While working at the bookstore, I met a lot of students. From my conversations with them, I realized that students face a lot of problems at the university. Many students complained about the quality of the food, inadequate study space, and poor Wi-Fi. I realized that something needed to be done to resolve the students’ concerns. I looked around and discussed these issues with many students. I realized that if someone could address these issues for the students, it might as well be me. At that point I decided to be part of the students’ union, so that I could take an active role in solving the problem.

Considering all the suggestions and advice I learned along the way, I want to pass some of them on in time for this exam season to help you improve your studies and your social life.

  • Always attend all the lectures, labs, tutorials, and practicals, because you are paying for these activities. There are no exceptions in first year, because it’s an enormous transition from high school and needs to be done right.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to ask the professors and TAs, because they are the only ones who can answer all your questions. Attending their office hours and getting one-on-one attention also benefits you as a student, because that can earn you a reference letter.
  • Pay attention in lecture, because if you miss something important, you might miss it forever. Unfortunately, there are no reruns of these lectures. To cover your absence, pick a class buddy who can take notes for you and share them with you. Do not miss tutorials or labs either, because you will miss out on participation grades if you do.
  • To study for exams or midterms, either write or type out your notes again, highlighting the important terms and concepts.
  • Do not memorize, but understand the terms and concepts. If the course materials aren’t enough to help you understand a particular concept, do extra readings, even if it is Wikipedia.
  • For exams and midterms, if you are stressed out, have a glass of water and take a nap to refresh your brain. A walk or run around the street can also refresh your brain. If you are studying all night, then take a nap before the exam. Sleep in if you can.
  • If you feel that you are stressed out and thinking of a way to motivate yourself, think of your CGPA and the fees that you are paying to earn your degree. Do not give up. Go to the Health and Counselling Centre and talk with them. That helps a lot.
  • Prioritize your time and be organized. Be focused. If you have to study, do not procrastinate; just finish your assignments and study for the tests.
  • Proofread and edit your essays before you submit them; cite all the authors and everything that is required of you, so that you do not get involved in an academic offence. Even if you paraphrase, cite it. Speaking of plagiarism, don’t ever cheat on a test or an assignment. Going to the dean’s office can end your university life forever.
  • It’s not about whom you know, but it is about who knows you. Join clubs, make new friends, and go to events; for example, all the business students can benefit from joining DECA, UCS, and UEC.
  • Participate in UTMSU, our students’ union. If you want to volunteer and get a certificate, you can also work for UTMSU. Vote in the elections or even run for office. Come and show your skills to improve your communication and time management and interpersonal skills. Your students’ union and clubs need you. You are the only one who can improve life at UTM.

Enjoy these four years of university life. Rest assured that if you follow these guidelines, you definitely will.

Contact me if you have a concern or a question: I will try to reach you ASAP. I work for you and only for you.

Enjoy the winter holidays and good luck on your exams!

Rishabh Dev
UTMSU Board of Directors, Div. II

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