University: changes, investing

Re-balancing your priorities

While my first year of university is reaching the end, I discussed with several classmates, coming all together to the same thought.
During high school, students have the possibility to develop their own study method, and in case they successfully do so, it gives many advantages.
At the university, it becomes necessary. Classes and exams are exactly meant to be scheduled in a personal, autonomous way. 
The concept of “school months” and “months off” become totally relative, it’s up to you. 
Some people finish their exams session a couple of months in advance, some other just a couple of weeks or days.
The key point is: there is no static schedule, nothing is linear and most importantly, don’t force yourself to your own expectations.
I used to stick to my resolutions: “finishing the session as soon as possible”. This is not possible due to multiple reasons: teacher, tests dates, time available.
Tests are meant to have multiple dates for a reason, it is not possible to fit all of them in a very short period. This idea has been enforced by a bunch of posts I read all over Quora and Reddit: many students claimed better performances while concentrating on 1-2 tests at a time.
The less you split your time into subjects, the more you have for each one. The more time and practice, the more consistent the knowledge and the more confidence. It is based on how our synapses work, basically. Enforce their bondings.

Considering a big leap

I’ve been considering the idea of future investment in my education for more than a year. I considered the idea of going to the United States and make a valid investment by applying for an Ivy league college (for those who don’t know: a class of worldwide-known and prestigious colleges).
Many not/American students do it, even though they can’t afford it. Luckily, money isn’t that big obstacle nowadays. In order of chance, you can afford to study abroad with: exchange programs, work-study, loans (borrowing money from the college and paying it off once graduated), scholarships.
However, is it really worth?
I’m not discussing studying abroad. I personally think this experience should be a must for each student: as a person, traveling the world and forcing yourself to adapt leads to improvement; meeting new people and cultures is one of the most enriching experiences for yourself.
Speaking of choice: is a prestigious college worth?
My answer is: remove the word “prestigious”.
As I would do with any college: it depends on the study program they do offer. Of course, similar program-based colleges may differ by reputation, but not only:

  • Highly selective: the average American student sends from 2 to 5 college applications. Sometimes you don’t get in just because you deserve it. Students from all over the world may send thousands of applications to the same college. Being rejected often means “despite everything, this year we couldn’t fit you in our institute”.
  • Mental Health: how competitive will it be? Will you keep the pace?
    I’ve followed several YouTubers vlogging their college life. “Life at Princeton”, “Preparing Finals at Cambridge” and so on. I saw some of them quitting, speaking of the actual level of competition and pressure they felt. Reaching an actual mental breakdown.
  • Equal opportunities: in the last months, I started using LinkedIn almost on a daily basis. I am Italian. Sometimes I found Italian names in research papers, so I decided to look upon the social site, find the cv and read about their path. Holy crackers, what I have found. I hadn’t had a similar idea of local Italian universities before that moment.
    I read about a student from Bari who started studying at the University of Turin, he graduated and after serval research projects, he has been offered a place at Uber, San Francisco.

Conclusion

Looks like facts make the difference.
Whatever your starting point is, how far can you go?
Of course, a prestigious environment shortens our distance from great opportunities. But is it worth the big economic, emotional, academical leap, when you make the real difference with yourself, not money?

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