As part of the upcoming University Mental Health Week celebrations, there will be an installation that invites students to express their goals and wishes in relation to studying at Uni.
Whilst intended as a visually engaging brief reflection exercise for students, it is also valuable data about what students want most out of the university experience. It complements work done by the Student Experience Team last year on what constitutes success at uni – https://blogs.flinders.edu.au/student-news/2019/03/20/what-you-told-us-about-your-success-at-flinders/
The installation will be a giant tree onto which students can place leaves, representing their personal goals and wishes – what they want to get out of the university experience. At the tree you will be able to pick up a handout that links back to this post.
Students will be able to select from some pre-made leaves, or create one of their own. The pre-made ones will include the following goals. For each goal I’ve provided some links and suggestions on how to make that goal a reality.
I want to learn everything I can about my topic
Nice! You will be getting full value for your HECS-HELP debt. If this is you, consider enhancing your ability to learn by using evidence-based study strategies and taking full advantage of the learning resources available to you.
I want to be competent and capable and ready for work
One of the best things about getting my degree was being qualified to go out and get a decent job. If the workforce is on your mind, make sure you take full advantage of your work placements and also book in to chat to the team at Careers for guidance on how to get into your dream job.
I want to be recognised for my efforts and achievements
I’m a big fan of getting projects completed and letting people know about them. If you are an achievement focused person (i.e. you like tangible concrete outcomes), then get good at setting goals.
I want to feel connected and engaged in my area of study
Sometimes when we’ve been studying for a while and have got in the routine of lectures, assignments and exams, we can lose interest in our topic of choice. To get that energy and connection back in relation to your degree, consider starting a small side project that is related to your studies. Perhaps it is a learning blog or make a documentary or writing a journal article. Something that gets you interacting with your degree in a different way.
I want to feel connected to my friends and peers
It took me 3 years to make a friend at university. I don’t recommend waiting that long. Trying to increase your social network? Start a study group. Do some professional development. Join a club. Consider attending a Global Connections and Conversations Group.
I want to feel in control of my life
The desire to be the author of our own life is a powerful psychological need. One of the things that makes students feel out of control is struggling with procrastination, that is, being unable to tame their impulse to avoid. Tackle procrastination and you give yourself back the time needed to shape your own destiny.
I want to feel happy
For a while there it was really popular to say you ‘wanted to be happy’ and then it wasn’t so popular – suffering was the ‘soup de jour’. If you want to feel happy, then you have every right to pursue that. Simplest way to do it? Schedule pleasant events into your week. Sounds obvious, but it is amazing how many people pack their schedules with stuff they don’t like because of a feeling that they should. Really struggling? Reach out to Health, Counselling and Disability Services.
I want to discover my purpose in life
I used to think I was supposed to be a rock star. Now I know that my job on this planet is a little less glamorous – but I am still growing the rockstar hair. University is a great place to find one’s passion. The key is to try and connect what you are doing in the present moment with your vision of who you want to be in the future. Try self-authoring. Within in your degree, take any opportunities to get a feel for what it is like to work in your area of study (e.g. do some part time work in a lab or tutoring).
I want to make a difference
The desire to leave a positive legacy is a strong one. I certainly think more about it now that I am older. Start your journey of leaving the world a better place by volunteering or becoming a mentor. The team at Horizon Awards can help you find opportunities.
I want to build routine and order into my life
Nothing brings me more joy than a perfectly organised day. Whilst some revel in spontaneity, I revel in order and routine. The combination of predictability and autonomy at university really appealed to me. I knew where I was supposed to be when and then had the rest of the time for myself. If this is you, become a master scheduler.
I want to express my creativity
After writing your 10th beige essay, you might be feeling that academic study is a bit dry. Trust me that there are (will be) opportunities for creativity. They just require you to get all the groundwork done first. But that doesn’t stop you expressing your artistic side – draw, paint, play music, dance, sculpt. Don’t worry if you suck at these things. I’ve been playing guitar for 20 years and I totally suck at it.
I want to feel good about myself
In the 80’s we tried to increase everyone’s self-esteem by telling them they were amazing. It sort of backfired because a lot of people weren’t amazing. The key to building self-esteem is to take projects to completion – to rack up examples of where you set yourself goals and made them happen. You earn self-esteem, rather than just experience it randomly.
I want to have fun
Just cause you aren’t a kid anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t keep playing. Make FUSA a part of your life. They’re much better at having fun than I am. Look out for social activities run by your college or school. Join in the fun at Overhead at Flinders.
What is it that you want to get out of the university experience?