in Articles, Education

10 Things M’sians Wish They Knew Before They Entered University

– it’s never too late to start.

If you had a time machine that brought you back to the day you started university, what would you tell yourself? If we had 5 seconds, maybe this would be all:


Maybe time travel is impossible (right now). But every year, hundreds of fresh-faced students enter university. A lot of them don’t know what to expect.

You might’ve been one of those students, or who knows, you might really be entering university yourself this year too! If you are, congratulations. You’re in for a ride.

So we asked Reddit Malaysia what they wished they knew when they started university.

There were some amazing responses. So here are 10 things Malaysian graduates would’ve told themselves if someone invented that time machine. And hey, if we can’t change our past, we can make sure today’s freshmen and women don’t have to repeat our mistakes and regrets.

This is a gift from the past, for the future. Use it well!

10. Get Original Software For FREE (and it’s totally 100% legal)

This tip comes from Reddit user karlkry, who reminds every university student out there that, “You can get original software (windows, office) using your university licence. Ask uni library or IT dept.”

And that’s true!

Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint

Source: University of Wisconsin

Millions of students around the world qualify to download Microsoft Office 365 through their university for free – this obviously includes the much-needed Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel as well as 1TB of storage on Onedrive (Microsoft’s version of Google Drive!)

Besides asking your university’s library or IT Department, you can also try checking whether you’re eligible on this handy little website. Each university might have a different way of letting you download the software too – for example, here are step-by-step instructions for IIUM students to download their Microsoft Word.

9. Get The Hell Out of Your Comfort Zone

Reddit user AUAAUH shares some advice meant for overseas undergraduates, but we feel that it’s really applicable no matter where you study. S/he has put it brilliantly, so we’ll simply quote the entire post here:

“If you study abroad, use that opportunity to have your beliefs challenged. Don’t stay in safe spaces, participate in hard discussions, get out of your comfort zone. Only through constant debate can you figure out which of your beliefs have a truly solid foundation, and which ones are shaky.

Keep an open mind; be willing to accept new truths and reject baseless traditions. This is the true value of studying abroad.

There isn’t any secret knowledge contained within the walls of Oxbridge or Ivy League; our local institutions use the same textbooks. Rather, it comes from the melting pot environment in those institutions and the absolute freedom to discuss and voice out anything.”

8. Make The Most of Your Amazing Uni Library

Reddit users nescafesatu, tangledupinbetween and AsteroidMiner all agree on this point: University libraries are amazing and you are going to miss them once you’ve graduated.

A library in a Malaysian university. Yes, it’s beautiful. (Credit: Lyn from

Whether it’s books, movies/TV, journals and comics, your library has them. Go use it. Now.

As nescafesatu says, you’re paying for your library fees after all, and once it’s all over, you’ll realise that books are… expensive.

7. Learn ASAP That Studying Isn’t About Reading Your Slides

You’ll be surprised how many people graduate without ever learning this.

Powerpoint slides are no substitute for reading the primary coursework material and making your own notes. Check out this useful how-to for university students trying to learn how to make your own notes and much more (we’ve provided a summary in BM right here too).

6. Got A Research Project? Use. Journal. References.

On the same point, Reddit user nimetsu highlights the importance of getting comfortable with reading and using research findings from journal articles out there.

We are planning to write guides on this soon (like us on Facebook so you don’t miss them), but approach your friendly university librarian and they will gladly point you towards the right direction.

5. Make Friends With Your Professors (They’re Human Too)

Yes, they are very smart people. Yes, they can seem scary. But professors are only human and just like you and me, they too enjoy good conversation and friendship with students.

Reddit user Ayam_titanium adds a practical reason for making good connections with lecturers, supervisors and bosses: one day, you will need reference or recommendation letters. If nobody knows you, you might find it difficult to get good letters.

So don’t be scared, reach out!

4. Lab Technicians Are Secretly Jedi Masters

Here’s something special for those in Science or Engineering courses. Reddit user karikry shares his/her experience:

“Lab Technician(s) know f***ton of things, from unconventional ghetto sampling technique or alternative way to get the kind of result you want. Professor and Lecturer come and go but LabTech stays eternal.”

Words of wisdom.

3. Join Random Classes, Just Cos You Want To (And Can)

Reddit user karikry has one last piece of advice and this one is for any university student out there:

You can just join almost any class you want, chances are the lecturer are more than happy to have you. Just ask him beforehand and say I don’t (en)roll in this course but I’m interested in the class.

And honestly, when else are you going to get to learn about Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism in the Muslim World, even if you’re majoring in Economics?

Take the opportunity to attend whatever courses interest you and you are going to enjoy yourself.

2. Make Sure You Plan Out Your Study/Career Roadmap

Reddit user littlefunkynose offers some real advice (and even if you’re in your final semester, you might want to listen up):

I know people say this often but plan out what your study path is going to be. Especially for Pre-U cause it gets really complicated to start your degree especially in public uni.

I went to a private uni for diploma and hoping for public uni for degree. Already wasted a year because I got confused with the system. Now just hoping for the best.

Whatever your study or career goals may be, get as much information about requirements, certifications and study paths that can help you get there smoother. The best option would be to ask your professors (see Tip #5) or someone who has been there and done that.

1. But Plans Change, And That’s Alright Too

Having said that, we want to end with these words from Reddit user Chumby_Hufflepuff. He/she says:

I wish someone told me that not everyone has a solid, fixed plan when they’re in university.

Goals and preferences change over time and I wish someone would tell me it’s alright.

To Chumby_Hufflepuff and anyone out there who’s still figuring things out:

It’s truly alright. You got this and we’re cheering for you.

(Credit: cover image of Yoda Statue from Loren Javier)

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