SEVEN PIECES OF ADVICE : WHAT I HAVE LEARNT DURING MY STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TARTU – Nikolay (RUSSIA)
My name is Nikolay, and I am currently finishing up my studies in Business Administration and Economics, a Bachelor programme at the University of Tartu. Although the following is based purely on my personal experience and I can’t advocate that the points I raise are applicable to all degrees and programmes, I would very much like to share with you what I have learnt over the past years of studying in Estonia.
- Think about whether you want to continue your studies and do a Master’s programme early on, so you have enough time to prepare
Getting good grades makes it easier to transition from a Bachelor to a Master level programme. As I am interested in pursuing a Master’s degree, I noticed that most universities look at mainly four things during the application process: language proficiency, your grades, your motivational letter, and, in some cases, the score you get on your GRE or GMAT test (applicable if you apply for a degree involving some maths). Since it is possible to avoid GRE and GMAT tests by simply not applying to universities that require these, and language and motivational letter are not much of a hustle for me, I put emphasis on maintaining a good grade point average.
So, my first advice is – study well, so that you will not regret or be ashamed of your GPA by the end of your studies.
- It is not only about studying
University life is about studying as well as socializing. For the first two years of my Bachelor’s degree, I did not pay much attention to extracurricular activities or socializing as I felt like doing so would be a waste of my time. Some would argue that if you spend all your time on studying, then it will pay off. But I would not consider myself as the best student.
This is where my second piece of advice comes in – if you do not study around the clock or work, then go and join a student organization, or remote job, or anything alike. Expand your horizons, so that you won’t regret not taking the opportunities that you will surely have access to during your studies. As of my third semester, I started to participate more in student and non-commercial organizations. I also went to a big festival. Being engaged like that is much more fun than watching YouTube.
- Be active in class to stress less at home
I remember how high-school rules dictated that if you were active in the class, you were dumb, and everyone thought that you show off (at least, it felt so in my experience). However, if you want to make life easier and have some more free time after school, you should study more effectively during the lectures and seminars to study less at home.
This brings me to my third piece of advice. Do not use your Facebook in class, do not talk to your friend that sit in the back row of the classroom, and likewise actions. If you do, it will disturb your attention, and the effectiveness of your studying during the lecture time would be nearing zero.
- It is better to go on an Erasmus+ exchange than staying in one place for the full course of your studies
If there is someone who is thinking about whether to go or not to go on an exchange programme abroad for a semester, my answer would be to GO! As a person who chose not to go on an exchange programme and having seen the same scenery non-stop for three years, I would say it has been such a shame that I did not use the opportunities given to do so. I mean, where would you find other chances of living in another country with sponsorship opportunities as good as those provided when you participate in exchange programmes? Plus, it is an opportunity to visit other countries, live there, and form your opinions based on your own experience.
- There is more to networking and socializing than just wasting your time
Do not think of networking and communicating as a waste of time. If you know how to network, then it is one of the most powerful arms in your arsenal, irrespective of the study programme you are enrolled in. Personally, I did not pay much attention to this during the first two years of my Bachelor programme. Now, I think that if I had to choose one skill out of a thousand, I would think of networking as the top one.
So, my fifth advice is to go and talk to people! Be genuinely interested in finding out who they are, and, who knows, maybe they would be useful to you or you would be able to have a beer one day.
- Vision and Strategy
Right now, I am preparing for the final exam of my Strategic Management course. The whole course can be summarized (in my opinion) in two words – Vision and Strategy. It teaches you that for a company to be successful, you need to understand what you want it to be in the future (vision) and how it can be achieved (strategy). Now some of you would say: “living your life by the plan is boring”, or “I tried to plan stuff, but I am not good at it”. To the first, I personally would answer: “no, it is not” and to the second: “do you have your clear vision? Are you sure it is your vision, not your parents’, friends’ or somebody else’s? And are you sure you did everything right?” My advice, and I would like to repeat that it is just an advice, is: try to consider yourself as a corporation in this case and understand what you want to be in the future (vision) and how to achieve it (strategy).
It is hard to say why I put it here but try it for one month at least. It may help you to cope with your stress.
I hope you will have a good time during your studies. I wish for you to have fun with your studies.
All the best!