7 ways this university is helping students find their purpose

By Stephanie L

University is full of opportunities, but sometimes it can be hard to know which way to look first – or at least know where you’re headed – especially when your peers seem to know what they’re doing.

Sometimes the best place to start is with the basics. What’s important to you? What motivates you? What do you want to achieve in life? What do you think your purpose is in life?, it might feel a bit overwhelming. But this is what one university in Mexico wants its students to think about. 

Designing a university around the realms of happiness, positivity, engagement and wellbeing might be hard to imagine. How do you learn it? And more importantly, how do you even teach it? 

Let’s take a closer look…

Helping students build their self-awareness

While many consider attending university a way to leverage promising career prospects, university is also a unique opportunity where you can look at yourself and think about how you can benefit and grow personally from the experience.

After graduating, many students are left standing at a cross-roads. What do I do now? Do I go out in search of my dream grad job? Shall I go travelling? What about going one step further in my academic career and pursuing a master’s degree?

Being confident in yourself can take time, as does building your self-awareness. This is why, in 2012, Universidad Tecmilenio introduced the Institute for Happiness and Wellbeing and overhauled its teaching in order to meet the needs of students and current industry trends.

The result? Global recognition for being a positive university. 

“I was delighted when I heard about what is happening at Tecmilenio and creating a different education model,” said Professor Rajendra Sisodia.

“Actually teaching students about the meaning and purpose of life, and about happiness and about mindfulness and the art of living. Nobody teaches us that and we go through life unnecessarily suffering and not knowing how to think about life, how to think about work, how to think about family and so on.”

“I think it’s a unique institution in the world, the world’s first positive university, and all of us have a lot to learn from the experiences and the learning that happened here.”

Universidad Tecmilenio has set itself up to become a pioneer in higher education and lead the way in teaching its students how to find their own meaning and purpose in life. It believes that university is more than just about getting a degree, and puts life purpose, positivity, wellbeing and happiness at the epicenter of its student education and teaching.

Outlining why students learn what they learn

Teaching and learning should always be relevant – whether it’s related to your degree or extra-curricular activities.

While Tecmilenio teaches its students necessary workplace skills, it also teaches them about the importance of wellbeing, and proposes positive practices, including how to manage emotions, how to engage in the workplace, how to have positive relations with others – and most critically, how to have meaning in life. 

Providing work-integrated learning opportunities and getting students out into the real world

It’s out with traditional classroom-based learning (not entirely) and in with work-integrated learning.

Students who have the opportunity to get out of the classroom can gain genuine business and industry insights, develop their awareness of workplace culture, and also enhance critical workplace skills, such as positive leadership and communication.

It’s also a great opportunity to help students them gain a better sense of what their purpose in life is.  

Fostering collaboration

It’s important for students to realize they shouldn’t consider themselves to be in competition with their peers when it comes to test scores and assignments.

Where there’s competition, there’s pressure. While a sense of competition can be good, it can be hard to know where to draw the line, which is why Tecmilenio encourages its students to build their own internal motivation and work together, rather than against each other.

Showing students how to learn from their mistakes

It’s important to encourage students to learn from their mistakes and view them as an opportunity to improve. A lot of the time, setbacks and ‘failure’ can be the catalyst for future success as lessons are learnt.

While students are equipped with the tools and theories necessary to deal with and overcome the challenges of everyday life, they’re also encouraged to identify their strengths and characteristics and how they can best use them.

Building student-professor trust

Professors and lecturers aren’t just teachers – they’re mentors too. For students to see and understand the paths their professors have been on to get where they are today can be both inspiring and valuable.

Encouraging students to get out of their comfort zones

Exploration in both your academic and personal life is important.

We shouldn’t underestimate the power of what going beyond your comfort zone can do. If you’ve always wanted to join a student organization, society or club, what’s holding you back? Get involved if that is something that you really what you want to do – and if there isn’t a club or society that’s set up for what you enjoy or are interested in, set one up yourself.

It’s these experiences that can help build your confidence, positivity and engagement within the local community.