BY ALİ ADEEB (ARCH/IV)
For most of us, a new role in life presents a variety of challenges and some surprises, too. Advice from someone who’s already been there can help get us through the rough spots. In the case of university students, who better than seniors to offer the benefit of their experience?
This week, Javaid Jabbar, a fourth-year Molecular Biology and Genetics student, gives advice as to how this year’s freshmen can make their university lives a bit easier and less complicated.
Four years for most, five years for some; time is just an infinitesimal quantity signifying how much Bilkent has got you. The first year is going to be the hardest; after that, you’ll basically get used to it. I believe life is meaningless without memorable experiences, and Bilkent provides an unparalleled and unprecedented opportunity for the next four years of your life.
Organization is the key to success if you plan on graduating on time. Focus on doing things a semester at a time in order to keep up with your commitments. You’ll have sufficient time to do all the extracurricular activities you ever dreamed of, so don’t make the mistake of overloading yourself and regretting it afterward. The easiest way to deal with the challenges is to embrace them. Never ever feel that you’re alone in this conundrum. Students before you have faced similar obstacles; if they could make it, so can you. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from your seniors, teaching assistants, professors and advisors.
I’ve heard people complain about how tough Bilkent is compared to its world ranking. I’ve seen people switch their departments and sometimes even universities. Bilkent is without a doubt competitive and academically tough, but that’s not the only hurdle in your path. If you feel like you belong to the department you’re enrolled in and have the zeal to enter into your work fully, you’re meant to prosper in your academic and professional life. It’s always a good idea to stay here for summer school. You can repeat some courses if you wish, or take some extra courses to improve your GPA.
The most essential aspect that most people fail to acknowledge is future planning. Some of you know what you will do in the future, while most of you are still exploring options; design a general framework including the things that interest you the most, and start working toward it from the day you realize it will suit you the best. For Bilkenters enrolled in the Faculty of Science, it’s very important for you to gain sufficient research experience before you apply to graduate school. You may not realize just how important it is until you reach your senior year, and by then it’s already too late. Therefore, plan accordingly and work on this from the beginning. If you’re planning to go to the US, which I believe some of you are, keep in mind that you have to get a good score on the GRE, so it’s a good idea to start preparing early rather than leaving it for the last year.
Bilkent provides great opportunities for personal growth, but what’s more important is to recognize your limits and know where you stand. Find your breaking point, and learn how to optimize the time for yourself to recover. Learn how to create a balance between ambition and happiness. You’ll enjoy yourself and will eventually graduate, but what’s even more important is to feel satisfied with your accomplishments.