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An almost-graduate’s advice: 8 things I learned during my time at Bond University

Written by Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of International Relations student, Erin Cronin.

After 11 semesters – nearly 4 years – of studying at Bond University, I’ve had the chance to experience everything that Bond has to offer. Now, as I await graduation, I want to share some learnings with you. Here are eight valuable lessons I’ve learned throughout my time at Bond.

1. It’s okay not to know what your long-term plan is

If you’re starting at Bond already aware of what career path you want to take, that’s great. But, if you have absolutely no idea – like I did – that’s great too, and nothing to worry about! Deciding to study a topic at university can be a daunting decision to make, especially if you aren’t 100% sure of what path you want to take long term.

This can be heightened by the feeling that everyone around you knows exactly what they want to do. Don’t be alarmed though, because picking your degree isn’t the be all and end all of life. Throughout your time at university, you’ll be exposed to so many different study areas and career paths, and sometimes going in with an open mind can be more beneficial to working out your future goals. Don’t be afraid to reach out to academics, Bond’s Career Development Centre (CDC), industry professionals, and past students to explore different areas and really find something that you’re interested in.

If you reach the end of your time at Bond and you’re still not sure what’s next, that’s fine too. I’m awaiting graduation and still haven’t decided my long-term plan, but I know that after my experience at Bond University the options are endless.

2. You probably won’t love every course, but you’ll enjoy most of them

Many of us go into university study with a very optimistic view of the years ahead, but truthfully, it’s likely you won’t fall in love with every subject you study. Of course, there will be some that you love from start to finish, and may even shape your career trajectory, but realistically there will also be some you don’t like.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of property law or equity, but for others, it might be stats, chemistry or accounting… it depends on your course and who you are as a person! But, for every subject you mightn’t quite love, there will be subjects you do enjoy, and these highs will far outweigh the lows. Finding the subjects that set you on fire can take a bit of trial and error – especially if you have electives! – but finding what you really enjoy is so valuable and will follow you into your future endeavours.

Erin offers eight salient pieces of advice as she reflects on her time studying at Bond

3. Even the things you don’t enjoy can bring value to your experience

Even though it’s easy to just forget the experiences you didn’t love at the time, each of these is an opportunity to develop values and skills. Maybe I didn’t love the equity subject I took, but it gave me something valuable – it allowed me to understand my study style when learning remotely. Similarly, although I don’t see myself becoming a property lawyer anytime soon, the support I received and the skills I learned from academics in these subjects allowed me to thrive in other areas. Although it can be hard to recognise the benefits of an experience you’re just not enjoying in the moment, taking a second to reflect on the transferrable skills you’re developing is a great way to redefine and reshape the situation.

4. Perceived failures are learning curves, even if it might not feel like it

Uni can be tough, and there may be times that you don’t perform as well as you’d hoped to. Whether it’s answering a question wrong in class, getting a bad grade, or not being happy with your transcript, throughout your time at Bond you’ll likely feel as if you’ve ‘failed’ at something.

At the time, this might feel like the end of your journey, with one mistake causing you to spiral and fear the worst… trust me, I’ve been there countless times! As hard as it can be, my only advice is to recognise that this isn’t a reflection of your skills or who you are as a person. Some topics will just be harder to grasp for you than others, sometimes other commitments will distract you, and sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you want them to. This doesn’t take away from the skills you’ve developed (and are continuing to cultivate every day) or the things you have to offer and that you contribute to the Bond community.

Instead of spiralling, let yourself be upset, and process your emotions. Then, once you’ve let yourself work through it, reflect on this experience as a learning curve. Maybe you recognise the areas you need to focus on, change your scheduling, or just resolve to try again next time. Everything has a silver lining, and finding yours in each situation will benefit you greatly – an important lesson learned.

5. You can still have a life, jobs, friends, and non-university experiences

Going to uni can be full on, especially if you also want to factor in work, socialising, and other commitments. This can seem especially true at Bond, where ‘Bond time’ seems to run faster than usual. That being said, don’t feel put off from other experience, as you’ll still have plenty of time to do other things. Even though your degree is accelerated at Bond, there will be opportunities to work, socialise outside of class and undertake extracurriculars.

I would encourage any Bondy to get involved – in my time at Bond, I’ve worked, interned, been on exchange, participated in extracurricular competitions and activities and maintained important friendships, and each of these things is just as important to developing your character as study. Whether you choose to spend your free time involved in a Bond club or society, working, seeing friends, or picking up a hobby, these are all valuable experiences that help to make you, you!

As well as her double degree, Erin has made it a priority to pursue extracurriculars including mooting and internships

6. If you’re feeling confused, others probably are too!

Feeling lost and confused when it comes to your uni work can be isolating – especially when it seems like everyone else is doing totally fine. Having finished my university studies, though, I can confidently say that if you’re feeling confused or have questions on a topic, chances are you’re not alone! It’s very likely there are others that are feeling what you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid to utilise office hours, ask questions in tutorials, or catch up on coursework with friends, as there’s plenty of ways to get back on track. You’ll quickly notice that everyone is just trying their best and will be more than happy to help you out.

7. You need to find a schedule that works for you

Everyone has a different schedule. Some are early birds, others are night owls. Some people work best using a Pomodoro technique, others can focus for hours. You might prefer to space things out over the week or do it all in two days… ultimately, there’s a million and one methods to plan your time, and it all comes down to working out what’s best for you.

In your first semester or two of university, you’ll probably still be getting a feel for the workload and how it fits into your schedule, especially if you’re still adapting from high school. Use this time to evaluate what works for you and what doesn’t, and to create systems around these learnings. For me, I need everything written down in a planner, whether it’s classwork, deadlines, or a social catch up with friends. You might prefer an email calendar, Notion, Todoist, the power of remembering – the list goes on – but only you can work out which method is right for you. 

Similarly, you need to find a self-care process that works for you. Studying and grades are great, but they aren’t everything. So, you need to factor time to look after yourself and unwind when work is done for the day or week. For me, self-care looks like going for a walk, listening to music, and cooking. For others, it’s going to the gym, painting, or seeing friends. In the same way that only you know how you work best, only you can determine the best way to look after yourself, so be sure to factor in time for that, too.

8. A proper lunch goes a long way

I’ll be the first to admit that grabbing a coffee and banana bread from Papyrus can be a lifesaver when you’ve been studying all day; it’s warm, filling, and gives you the sugar you need to keep going. But, in looking after your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, nothing beats a proper meal. Unfortunately, the time required to prepare and eat a proper meal can be chewed up in favour of an extra 45 minutes in the library – particularly in exam season! This is especially true if you don’t live on campus and are responsible for making all of your meals.

Studying can be exhausting, especially if you’re also upholding extracurricular, social, and work commitments, but when you’re busiest this is often the most important time to be taking care of yourself. Whether it’s heading home 30 minutes early to make dinner, cooking extra food to bring for lunch the next day, or leaving the library to sit and eat at Lakeside as a break, that short period of time will be far more beneficial than pushing through without proper nutrition. Having experienced this during numerous exam blocks, I can only encourage you to take the requisite time to look after yourself and give yourself the attention you deserve.

Ultimately, everyone will have their own reflections on the university experience, but I think many of my learnings are universal. This time in your life is one of great change, personal development and growth, so be sure to really make an effort to be introspective and evaluate everything, from the good to the bad.

Connect with Erin

Ask Erin your questions about university life, from her studies to exchange, mooting and so much more, at a time that suits you.

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