University Life


Here is some advice to consider while being caught up in the business of university life.

We all wait for the day when we will finally be college students.  It is the freedom of taking classes later than eight in the morning, the freedom to choose our professors, and sometimes, the chance to live like an adult.  But with freedom comes responsibility.  At a university, you aren’t just taking classes and studying.  You are in an environment with other students who may or may not share the same values that you do.  Unlike high school, you aren’t forced to come to class or punished with detention.  Outside of your college courses, you have time to spend as you will.  Some get involved in extracurricular activities, others are on the lookout for events with free food and most just hang out with old and new friends.

Whatever the situation, here is something to think about while you anticipate on being or are while you are already on a university campus:

The Alcohol: “Of course, I know that.  And I would never even get near that,” is what you would say on first thought.  But, it is still necessary to point it out.  You will be exposed to a lot of alcohol whether you will drink it or not.  If you dorm, it will be even worse.  Don’t be surprised if the student across your dorm room throws up one day, sings drunkenly, or is rushed out by paramedics to the hospital.  Being surrounded by those that drink can be harmful to you and put you at risk, so watch out.  Also, don’t get convinced to join a study group at a bar, because trust me, there will be little studying involved.

The Drugs: “Oh please, only the messed up people do that.” Not necessarily.  Some really smart and well-mannered students are heavily involved in drugs.  It is amazing how many students have access to drugs on a college campus.  Students become stressed and they want some relief.  When it’s not alcohol, it is drugs.  Again, being around those that are in such a state makes you vulnerable, so be careful.

Dating: “Oh, that was so high school,” you might say.  Well, not necessarily.  Think about it, how much time did you have when you were in high school?  Maybe five minutes between classes and at most an hour of lunch?  In college, you can have a lot of time depending on your schedule.  It’s not hard to start hanging out with someone while working on a group project or studying together.  Whatever the situation is, you could be tempted to start liking someone and you will have the time and freedom to hang out with this person, especially outside of class.  Don’t think it is okay to have a person of the opposite gender as your tutor for organic chemistry, or simply as a friend.

Intermingling: Okay, so realistically speaking, you are a good person and you don’t do any of the above.  But, you could find yourself in a situation where guys and girls come together in the same area.  This could very well be the Eid Dinner that the Muslim Students Association (MSA) hosts or one of the cool events during Islam Awareness Week.  Chances are these events will not be partitioned and so there are many opportunities for one to not only look towards but communicate with the opposite gender.  Just be wary of this and be mindful of your intention.  Are you part of the MSA to learn more about your deen and help others understand it better or is it because it gives you a chance to check out some cute guys?

The Parties: This is where all of the above combine to create an explosion.  (Sorry for being so theatrical; I can’t help it.)  Some universities are known to be the party schools, but parties are on every college campus.  The end of midterms or Halloween is just an excuse to celebrate.  Sometimes, it can even be a good cause, like a fundraising dance where all the money will go to the hungry.  But don’t make this mistake.  We’re not talking about adolescents here, but mature adult men and women combined with substances that can make you lose control of yourself.   I think it is enough to say that things can get very out of hand.

So, all our lives we are told, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.”  And I really don’t like all the negation there.  Because the “don’ts” are emphasized so heavily, I think it is worthwhile to outline some alternatives and ways that you can have fun in college.

Get active in your community: This is the best time to start giving back to your community.  Now, it won’t just be to complete some 20 hours of service learning that you were forced to do, but a willingness to spur some change with the knowledge and skills you possess.  It doesn’t have to be some tedious filing task or knocking door to door for donations.

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  said, “Allah is in the aide of His servant as long as he is in the assistance of others.”

Subhan’Allah.  Isn’t it amazing that we can please our Lord so much just by giving our time to others in need?  We may be oblivious to needs of others because we are so focused on our own.  But look around and observe.  The bilingual kids in your community could use a college tutor, the masjid could benefit from an extra volunteer, and the non-Muslims can get a chance to realize that we really are contributing positively to society.

Strengthen the Sisterhood: No one said you can’t have fun.  You just have to do so with the right people.  Hang out with your fellow sisters and don’t be shy!  The MSA usually arranges sister events, and if it doesn’t, then plan one yourself.  A Scrabble game night, dining out, shopping and a basketball game are just some of the many ideas out there.  When you have a strong sisterhood, you will have something to lean back on for support when times are hard.  Besides, it is the best way to seek advice from older college students, like which professor is easy and which is not.

Find a job: Most of us are lucky enough to have our parents pay for our tuition, but it won’t harm you if you contribute a little.  That doesn’t mean go scrub floors or work as a bartender.  Find a job that is both suitable and convenient, but also one that does not interfere too heavily with your studies.  Remember, the busier you keep yourself, the easier it is for you avoid haram activities.

Spend time with your family: Most of us hope to get married by the time we graduate from college or several years afterwards.  With the free time that you have, take the opportunity to be with your family.  If you live far away from your parents, talk over the phone and remind them that you have not forgotten them.

Strengthen your iman: This should not be last on the list here, but it is something that we should be striving to do at all times.  Classes and events are offered by an array of sources, including local masjids and the MSA.  Don’t lose the chance to learn something more, because in college, you’re not just there to complete your degree. You are there to learn and grow as a person, and more importantly, as a servant of Allah.