You are now a student at the university. Congratulations! But that means you are now on your own. You must manage your own life and despite the advice you may be getting from time to time from your parents, you must make your own decisions and face the consequences. The first term at the university is very critical if you want to succeed and come out with good grades. That is why you must make a good start. Here are 7 tips to help you get around campus and get yourself ready for the first semester.
1. Get to know campus as fast as you can.
Most students spend a considerable amount of time during their first weeks looking for places that matter to them: lecture rooms, departmental libraries and lecturers’ offices. The effects of this is that they miss first lectures and that affects progress in courses. The best thing to do is to find time during the period of orientation to locate all the important places so that you can get there on time without difficulty.
2. Take first lectures seriously
Make sure you arrive in time for the beginning of the first lecture of every course you take. The fundamental concepts and theories of courses are explained during the first lectures. Missing them will make you unable to grasp future topics. In addition, you get to know how the course will be organized, the books you must read, the number of tests, quizzes and papers required for a successful completion of the course, etc.
3. Know your counselors
The university puts in place systems to make studies smooth for students. There are various support staffs available and students must get to know them and consult them when in difficulties. There are academic counselors in faculties and departments, and there are counselors for social and non-academic issues. You must know them and contact them for professional guidance. Getting counsel from peers may be good, but could be misleading at times.
4. Build a support network
University life is such that you cannot do it all alone on your own. You need support from friends and colleagues. As early as possible, create your support group(s); create or join study groups, and contact teaching assistants to know the timetables and locations of tutorials. If you have children to take care of, you may find out the child care facilities available for help for your child(ren) while you are away studying hard.
5. Choose subjects wisely
There are compulsory subjects you must take and you cannot do anything about that. But choose your optional subjects wisely. Do not overload yourself with a lot of credits; you will not have enough time to cover all and you end up stressing yourself. Up to 3 credits above the required number is ok. Take subjects you can handle and make the grades, don’t take subjects because everyone is taking them. All subjects are important at the university.
6. Look for financial aid if you need it.
There are basically two ways of getting financial aid at the university: scholarships and bursaries, and part-time work. The university itself, faculties and departments have various scholarship schemes to help students financially. These are granted on merit and they are very competitive; but in most cases you have to apply for them. Make your application early and provide all the necessary documents. There are part-time job opportunities for students who need financial support during their studies. But there limits to the number of hours a student can work during the term. Contact the human resource section for details and guidance on part-time student jobs.
7. Take part in campus activities
University life is not all about books. It is a system that aims at bringing out all your potentials. And you need to keep a balance during your studies. Join clubs, attend events, go on excursions. You will meet new friends and make life and career changing contacts during such occasions. Academic work can become very stressful; that is why nonacademic activities are allowed on campuses as a way of managing stress.
University life can be very challenging. You need to find ways of managing both the academic and nonacademic aspects and drawing a balance so that you can come out successfully, after having taken advantage of all the opportunities available.