Even though I have finished my Computer Science degree with First Class Honours, there are things I would do differently if I would have to pursue my degree again.
#1 – Take my first year seriously
One of the things I would have done differently is taking the first year of University seriously. For various reasons beyond my control, I could not focus on my first year, and I felt the consequences throughout my second and third year. I consider the first University year of crucial importance as you are building the foundation for the years to come. You also set the tone for your entire degree (thankfully, I was able to change the tone).
This resulted in myself going into my second year with weak programming fundamentals. That means I had to work extra hard in my second year to catch up and fill the gaps from the previous year. And that applied to all subjects, not only to the programming-related subjects.
Therefore, if there is a thing I would approach differently would be to study more in my first year. It really helps.
#2 – Socialise more
Thankfully, it only took me the first year to realise the importance of socialising and networking. There are countless benefits of socialising: healthy for your mental health, University life becomes more enjoyable, useful when group work is necessary, you might be recommended for a job, and many more.
Speaking from my own experience, it helped me tremendously having someone to talk to or work with when I needed. Therefore, if you are in your first year, make some friends.
#3 – Study smart
It took me almost the whole three years to realise that I had a poor study plan. Even though I have studied most of the time, I did not study smart. I used to spend huge amounts of time learning all the stuff that was not necessary at the time.
#4 – Do not rely on University
University alone does not prepare you for work or your dream. You have to work extra, to prepare extra outside University. Do you want to be a Software Engineer? Go and contribute to Open-Source projects. Go and learn Data Structures and Algorithms. Learn Object-Oriented Programming. Read articles, buy books, prepare. Code as much as possible. Do everything in your power to prepare.
In my case, I made the big mistake of thinking that the degree alone helps you secure a job. I focused solely on University, and now I have to spend time going over Data Structures and Algorithms, Object-Oriented Programming concepts, and so on.
#5 – Relax more and never stop doing sport
Guess what my graduation gift was? A burnout with First Class Honours. I became so obsessed with doing well at the University that I left all my hobbies, including doing sports, and that resulted in a burnout. That was one of my biggest mistakes. One should never stop doing sports, as it has countless benefits.
Believe it or not, I spent most of my time (even more during the exams period) learning, working on projects, doing coursework and little to no time relaxing and doing things that I enjoy. Even though on the internet we see all the time that you have to work 24/24 7 times a week to be successful, I do not believe it. If that means to be successful, I do not want it. I want to have time for my family, and for my hobbies.
From all these five points, I regret the most that I did not relax more and that I have worked too much. Never sacrifice your health for anything, even more for a piece of paper or for a job that replaces you in a blink of an eye. However, that does not mean you do not have to work hard. Work hard, but also relax hard!