There is a simple Khmer proverb that advises people to “think before drawing”. With its precise, clear meaning, it reminds artists to consider the purpose of their work before beginning their work, but more importantly, encourages everyone to consider the impact of their decisions and behaviour on their future.
With this in mind, Cambodian university students need to make clear plans and set realistic goals for the upcoming academic year. In doing so, they will define their direction for what they want and where they want to go, and ensure that they do not finish the year having wasted two semesters of time and money and while achieving nothing.
Ung Vannthoeun, vice rector of Norton University, said that students must set their own plans for the upcoming year, and not rely only on their professors. “It is a must for students to create specific plans because it will impact their careers in the future,” she said.
To ensure that he gets what he wants out of his academic experience, Bou Heng, 20, a student of medicine at the University of Health and Sciences, said, “I make a plan every year. Creating plans in advance helps me know what direction I am going in and how best to achieve my goals.” This year Bou Heng is focusing on getting his certificate in French studies.
Luy Vannda, a senior in the English Literature programme at the Institute of Foreign Languages and in dentistry at the University of Health Sciences, said that he plans on focusing to improve his performance in the courses that he has not been good at in the past.
“Planning ahead reminds me of my goal to be a lecturer and prevents me from changing my direction,” said Luy Vannda. “I will not waste my time and I will not find it hard to get a good job in a challenging job market, like the market nowadays.” Even though he is doing two degrees at the same time, Luy Vannda plans to remain one of the outstanding students at IFL due to his clear planning and careful time management.
He said that regardless of how carefully they plan, students will surely meet new challenges and obstacles. So they have to build self-esteem and prepare themselves for the unexpected. “Students have to believe in their ability to struggle with new things and work out those things, which is made easier if they have planned their goals in advance.”
Lay Channanika, 18, a sophomore in international relations at the University of Cambodia and in English literature at IFL, has a plan that will allow her to deal with problems as they come up. She said that she will organise a group discussion with her friends to improve her performance in the courses with which she struggles.
“Students need to prepare for their studies in the upcoming year so they will be able to follow the plan and walk on the right track,” she said, adding that if they have no clear future plans they may not be able to keep up with the lessons, waste time on meaningless tasks and ultimately find it difficult to find a job when they graduate.
While having clear goals will help students succeed in their academic efforts, just making a plan is not enough. Students need to have strong focus and determination in order to execute their plan.
“It is very important that students put forward the effort while trying to implement their plans,” said Ung Vannthoeun. “A plan is just a plan if they don’t have the commitment to follow it,” she said.
Plan in 4 steps
Pick a post-graduate opportunity: What is the job or scholarship that
you want to get upon graduation?
Research the prerequisites: What are the most important skills and requirements for that post-graduate opportunity?
Choose your activities: What courses and extracurricular activities will allow you to gain these things?
Put together a plan: Figure out how you will manage your time to give you a chance to do as many productive activities as possible towards your goal.