Javier Guerra Vence graduated from Nobel International School Algarve in Summer 2018 and is now studying Meng Aeronautical Engineering, a four-year degree, at Imperial College, London. He took A Levels in Maths, Physics, Biology and Spanish, and AS Levels in Further Maths and Economics.
Javier will be writing regularly for us on his experience of undergraduate life at Imperial College London.
Your success in university life goes beyond your success in university
You will probably find this controversial, but sometimes maximising the grade you get in university is counter-productive. By studying above and beyond for a subject, you are missing out on many important things. Opportunities will knock on your door to try out new fields, attend to talks and competitions and take on further courses, but you are so busy investigating the depths of your subject to ensure you get full marks and can confidently tackle that “beyond the scope of what is reasonable” exam question that teachers add. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you will think about the activities you undertake more carefully and maximise your productivity so that you can improve your outcome in life, not only that in your university.
In university, time is extremely valuable. If you have many interests, you could soon find yourself overwhelmed with the large variety of activities there are and will start wishing that you could divide yourself into seven so that you can undertake all of these! However, you are only one being, and therefore you cannot – that’s a plain fact. Even if you sleep five hours a day (which will not help matters), you will find opportunities slipping by you every minute!
Strategic thinking is key. You need to “speak and listen” to yourself to determine your interests and goals, and commit to doing whatever is in your power to achieve them. Remember, success in university is not the end goal; it is a short-term goal which gives you some of the means to achieve those end goals. Therefore you should apply the 80:20 rule of getting 80 per cent of the result by concentrating on mastering the principal topics of your subjects and only reading beyond the scope in a particular topic which you are very passionate about or that you are certain that it may come on the exam. This will give you enough time to undertake some of these external activities from your degree so that you can have new experiences and become more well-rounded as a person.
That being said, don’t get carried away. University is very important. It provides you with an element of routine and stability that allows you to focus and thrive in your study. It also provides a complete package of knowledge necessary to master a particular topic which will be of extreme relevance to your success in life. However, every person is unique and has different objectives, which are in most cases not fully encompassed by your degree.
As an MEng Aeronautical engineering student at Imperial College London, I have a lot to study. My course is highly demanding and complex, and teachers like to “tease us” with “never seen before questions” in exams. Imperial also offers a lot of opportunities: tonnes of career fairs talks with prestigious professionals and many kinds of events. Moreover, we are the university in Europe with the largest number of student societies.
I have a wide arrange of interests, ranging from engineering, business and finance to sport, history and many others. To satisfy such curiosities, I have tried many societies and currently form part of three. I am Vice-President of the Consulting Society, Head of Equity investment for the Investment Society and Captain of the Futsal team. Although these activities put me under constant time pressure and occasionally take up some time of my studies, I am able to toggle them effectively with my degree and achieve a first-class grade. I am able to pursue all my interests through the principles of hard work, productivity and confidence.
Since a young age, I was inspired by my school, Nobel International School Algarve, Portugal, to participate in all sorts of competitions, from Dragons Den style contests and Stock Market challenges to electric toy car building competitions. Having enjoyed all these activities, I grew as a well-rounded person that wanted to pursue a wide range of interests. It is thanks to these experiences that I have achieved all I have achieved.
So please, determine your goals in life, do your absolute best towards achieving them, take risks and don’t put all of your eggs in your study basket!
Javier Guerra Vence.