Hailey Carter, a sophomore studying biomedical engineering here at the University of Arkansas, was recently named February’s “Student Leader of the Month.” Below, she offers 10 tips on how to succeed as an undergraduate engineering student here at the U. of A.
1. Get involved. I know just about everyone says this, but it truly is so important. Getting involved on campus not only acts as a release from class work, but it helps you to grow as a person. Through getting involved, you are able to meet other people who may share a similar passion as you but differ in every other capacity. This allows you to learn how connect with others all around campus. For me, I have loved getting involved in the Volunteer Action Center and my sorority, Kappa Delta.
2. Don’t be afraid of change. For as long as I can remember, I always told myself I didn’t want to be an engineer. I think this stemmed from many people telling me that I should study engineering. After coming to the University of Arkansas and learning about the Biomedical Engineering department, I knew instantly that that was what I wanted to do. Every day since making that decision, I have been challenged and have expanded my knowledge at an exponential rate. I can confidently say that I cannot imagine studying anything else. Change can be terrifying, but college is a time to explore and expand your horizons. With this is likely to come change. You are learning new skills and gaining knowledge that is shaping you into the functioning member of society you will one day be. Also, you may have thought your college experience would be one thing, but turns out it’s completely different. Accept that and make the best of it. Do not fear each day just because it is different than the one before it.
3. Take time to enjoy Fayetteville. We are surrounded by so much life and opportunity. Take the time to go to the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings or see a show at the Walton Arts Center. You will look back on your college years and be so grateful you were able to spend them in this incredible place.
4. Ask questions. Always want to improve and learn more. If something is said that you don’t understand in a class, ask for clarity. For me, I tend to hear a topic or theory in class and wonder how it applies to something in the real world. Simply raising my hand or going to see a professor after class leads to not only a greater understanding of the topic, but it forms a relationship with that professor. If a random thought pops in to your head, look it up. If you are walking down the street and see something and wonder how it works, Google it. Not only will you have a better grasp of the world around you, but you’ll be full of fun facts.
5. Find a support system. Find people all around campus that you can count on. Start with people in your classes that you see every day. This will come in handy when there is that topic you just don’t understand, but they do. However, do not just limit yourself to other BMEs or other engineering majors. There is so much to learn from forming relationships all around campus. You may be drastically different, but at the end of the day you are both students at the University of Arkansas and are capable of supporting each other in your individual endeavors.
6. Make lists. It is so easy to become overwhelmed when you think of everything you need to do: for your courses, for your personal life, for your organizations, etc. If you take the time at the beginning of each week or even day to write it all out, a weight will be lifted off your shoulders. Now you can focus on actually completing those tasks rather than using your brain power to worry about remembering them.
7. Volunteer. Winston Churchill said it best, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” I can easily say, if it weren’t for volunteering I would not be the person I am today. I have found so many volunteer opportunities through Give Pulse. On a regular basis, I volunteer with rEcess which is a parents night out for families with children with disabilities and their siblings. Through the Volunteer Action Center, I have been able to plan volunteer events and truly seen the impact volunteering can make on others. Through volunteering, I have gained an understanding of the challenges that people face and am compassionate about how I can help.
8. Manage time effectively. I think the biggest distinction between those that are successful and those that aren’t is being effective at time management. For most, this is a skill that is constantly being worked on. It is simple to take on a lot of responsibility and work and not accomplishing anything effectively. By knowing what you actually have the time to commit to, you will be able to have a greater impact in everything you are trying to accomplish.
9. Learn to applaud others not compare. On a daily basis, I am surrounded by some of the best and brightest. So when conversing with these world changers, I sometimes find myself thinking “I haven’t done X yet, I haven’t even thought about doing Y and Z. I just started last week and this person has been thinking about it for years!” But this mindset is only setting you up for failure. Learn to commend others for their achievements, but don’t compare yourself to them. We are all so very different that obviously we are going to have different achievements. By supporting each other we are able to foster a more uplifting environment.
10. Enjoy every single minute. It seems like just yesterday I was walking in to Introduction to Engineering, and now I’m almost halfway finished with undergrad. I want to cherish these next two years and all of the experiences I will have, and I hope you do the same regardless of how much time you have left at this wonderful university we call home.