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How To Make The Best Out Of Your First Year In The University As A South African


No doubt, you are filled with excitement to have graduated to the next level on the road to your career. The feeling of excitement is sometimes mixed with anxiety and uncertainty on the outcomes to expect now that you’ve moved on to this level. Goodbye to your secondary school uniform. You have just gotten your admission to begin your first year in university.  What of the stories you’ve heard about university life such as fitting in with new friends, adopting new fashion styles and swags, partying, projects, dating, bad friends, lectures, campus, ‘good girl turn bad’ and so forth? Oops! Not to forget is the GPA (Grade Point Average).

Nevertheless, neither let the stories overwhelm you nor be caught up with the euphoria. What should be of primary concern is what you hope to achieve that would successfully lead you to your career path. It’s important to consider how you make the best of your freshman year because this is the critical stage that determines the outcome you get in the future of your career. It is also a focal point where you either build or destroy. As you read this article, you would not only get the smart tips needed to overcome challenges and remain focus, you would also be challenged to access yourself on whether your personal goals are met by the end of your graduate studies. So before you embark on your studies, get these basic guidelines on what is needed on your part.

What you need to do.

 

  1. Write down your goals. Of course the primary reason why you are in university is to learn and get a certificate. However, there are other reasons that led to your choice of course. Identify your reasons and true interest. Your reasons and interest for being there must be related to your goals. Without goals and targets, you have no direction. Think carefully and write down your primary goals. Ensure to limit your goals to just a few in numbers to make your load light and be directed. Put down the reasons why you want to achieve these goals and how you would get about achieving them. With respect to achieving these goals, consider the factors that would help you achieve your personal goals such as the school academic resources, time management, personal finance, types of associate, location of lodging and so forth. In addition, write down the skills you hope to develop by the end your study. As you get more familiar with the course and its requirement, update this list with the purpose of working on them.

 

  1. Ensure to complete all necessary admission processes in good time.

Being a freshman requires taking on new self-responsibilities that were formerly performed by your parents or guardians. It’s now your responsibility to follow up on admission processes. Definitely, undergoing the transition of becoming a freshman can at times be daunting and can cause the admission follow-up process to be nerve racking as you suddenly find yourself now speaking up for yourself. To stay on track, find out all that is required for the admission process and if possible jot down the steps involved. Give yourself a target as to the time period you are to complete your admission processes. Ensure to complete tuition fee on time to avoid running around in between lecturers. When such issue prolong, they cause distraction of purpose, eat up your time and give less of peace of mind to pursue your goals in university. At this stage, it is vital to make and keep photocopies of all paper works you submitted and were given. This may come in handy during your clearance upon completion of your graduate studies.

  1. Do not walk pass the bulletin board. Remember, your life-line in guaranteeing your success in the university also hangs on reading the bulletin. Granted you cannot read all notices on the bulletin board as this can be time consuming, make it a habit to identify and glance through relevant notices. Some notices can be found online. Ensure to familiarise yourself with the online university portal. You would find some information that is relevant to you. During your freshman year, bulletins around the premises of admission offices should be of primary concern to you. In addition, take note of faculty and departmental notices. Stay updated as to notices on orientation for fresh students, changes in the time for lectures, the lecturers responsible for each course, list of departmental and non-departmental courses required for the semester, and other necessary requirements.

 

  1. Familiarise yourself with the school campus. During your freshman year, the university campus becomes your new world and home. This is the place where you would be spending the rest of your three to four years of your life.  After reading through the online university portal, endeavour to visit or locate where some of building facilities are located. In doing so, you would have a mental map of the university campus, and it would not always be difficult to understand the description of the location of specific blocks upon inquiry. Also, ensure to take note of the lecture halls relevant to your courses and most importantly the library, then the cafeteria.

 

  1. Make the library your friend. The library can be your companion if you realise how important it is to you in helping to reach your academic goals.

After attending a series of lectures, you would have noticed that the manner of the lecturers’ delivery is very different from your secondary school years. Rather than wait to be served on every bit of information required to pass your exams by your teacher, as in your secondary school days, your lecturers would only guide you on what you need to know. The rest of the details are for you to fish out through research in the library. Note that the various assignments give you a clue on what you need to know. Don’t hesitate to further your skills in research methods.

The library does not only serve the purpose for research. Because it’s normally quiet, it provides the right environment to read through your lecture notes and do all assignments. Choosing to do your assignments elsewhere, for example, at the dormitory or home where you live with other roommates, friends and family members can be distracting.

 

  1. Build good rapport with your exam officer. Developing a rapport with your exam officer is not doing so with the intent of getting good grades. There is a high degree of relevance associated with such positive relationship. Your exam officer does not only play the role of alerting you on your grades and your GPA for the semester. Building good rapport encourages him or her to give you valuable counsels and guide to successfully scale through your university years and look forward to a positive career. They can also provide recommendations and reference letters for job applications and so forth.

 

  1. Set targets on your GPA (Graduate Point Average) each semester and session. A point of rule that must not be neglected is the knowledge of how to calculate your GPA each semester. Your GPA is important because potential employers and educational institutions use this to assess and compare applicants that they need to hire. You must have an idea about it before engaging on your studies. Ensure that by the end of the semester and session, you have reached a targeted GPA of nothing less than a second class upper. Your GPA at the end of your freshman year sets the stage for building to success and determines what you are graduating with.

 

  1. Sharpen your time management skills. Your good time management skills should have already been cultivated during your secondary school years. If not, your freshman year is the time to repent of any lapses associated with your time management skills. Take it seriously. Your written goals and plan would guide you on your scale of preference as to your personal activities. Follow up on your schedule religiously, while drawing a balance between study and leisure, and have a back-up plan or schedules for disappointments like change of lecture time.

 

  1. Familiarise yourself with the university syllabus for each course ahead of a semester. Before engaging in your studies, have an idea on the content of your course outline. Make friends with those of the upper year students and ask them for assistance as regards to lecture notes and past question papers in order to understand the language of your lecturer and to be prepared in advance for learning new concepts. Taking this step would help you meet up with your targeted GPA.

 

  1. Choose your associates wisely. ‘Never let your friends choose you; choose your friends.’ Don’t be drafted in blindly. Learn to discriminate on the choice of friends to keep. This does not mean having a preference for financially well-to-do associates, associates from a specific ethnic background, having a likeable swag, and the rest. Remember your goals, the reason why you are in university, and the skills you wish to develop as you complete your studies. Let these guide you as to your choice of associate. Choose friends who have similar goals and good study habits irrespective of their background and age. Avoid being overly noticed to avoid being searched out by bad associates. Learn to say ‘No’ with confidence if either invited to engage in questionable activities or activities that don’t fit in with your schedule.

 

See you on the road to success!

At the end of your freshman year, assess how far you have achieved. For the remaining sessions, follow up on the good habits cultivated through your freshman years and as well add to your list, other useful habits you learn from successful students. Then after following up on your good personal habits while completing your study, you can certainly find yourself riding on the road to success of your future career.

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