12 useful tips for new college and university students
Although many new college and university students are already knee deep within the academic year, there are still others anticipating the transition from high school to tertiary-level education. It is never too early to start planning for this big step within your life. Guidance counsellors will usually advise students to start doing their research during their penultimate year of secondary school, which is very good since you are provided with a lot of time to get things done. You really do not want to leave this work for the last minute because the pressure of final exams and other activities will most definitely interfere. I cannot give advice on which schools to choose, but I can provide some general recommendations that you should consider no matter where you go. Having gone through the application process no less than 3 times, I know that these suggestions work.
First of all, congratulations on taking the first step on this journey to seek higher education. You are doing something that will further develop your mind in preparation for the working world. Not many are fortunate to receive such an opportunity. Realize that this journey is going to be different than the one you experienced during your high school days. It will be somewhat more difficult, but you will grow and mature.
The following are a few of my tips for new college and university students. After reading them you will probably agree that they are pretty much common sense knowledge.
- Know your deadlines
You are an adult and expected to be responsible. Be aware of your university’s calendar of events and any other deadlines that are important to you. Plan ahead to meet those deadlines.
- Get your payments sorted out early
Obtain from the institution the exact breakdown of fees you must pay. If you are on a scholarship/sponsorship, know the difference you must contribute. Get payments and deposits sorted out early so as to avoid the frustration of long lines. Keep receipts organized and in a easy-to-access location because you never know when there might be a scenario where proof of payment is demanded.
- Scope out the campus
If you feel that a visit to the campus will benefit you, then arrange for a tour with your family or friends ahead of time. Touring the campus during the summer or out-of-semester periods can be less intimidating for prospective students.
- Take advantage of orientation
Every university has an orientation week for new students before classes begin. Plan to attend so you can take advantage of the help you will need in order to register for your courses, among other things. Social events will also occur during this time when you can make new friends.
- Do not panic
New students will find that course registration is a confusing task. Which courses do you need? How do you arrange them? You are not alone. Talk with a faculty advisor preferably from your program’s department and spend time delineating which courses must be done. Freshman are normally encouraged to take a wide variety of courses in their first year. However, slot in some of your program-specific courses because they may become prerequisites for future courses.
- Join campus organizations
Most universities have a clubs and groups day during orientation week where students can learn about the many organizations on campus. Visit the booths. Join groups that interest you.
- Manage money wisely
Just because you have access to your parents’ credit card does not mean that you should spend their money foolishly. Purchase what you need and try to develop a budget. Get a part-time job later if you want extra pocket money, but only do so if it will not distract you from your studies.
- Eat healthy and exercise
Many young college and university students usually gain a noticeable amount of weight after their first semester because they do not regulate what they eat. Cafeteria food is convenient, but if it is all you have access to ensure that you choose healthy foods. Also, get the heart pumping by exercising regularly.
- Get to know your instructors
Talking with instructors from your department not only facilitates better learning, but also makes it easier in the future when you need an academic favour or letter of recommendation.
- Make new friends
You probably do not need to be told this. Keep in touch with your friends from high school, but do not be afraid to make new friends. They will be with you for the next 4 years at university and will more than likely be friends you will have for the rest of your life.
- Know yourself and your limitsDo not be forced into doing anything that you feel is uncomfortable because everyone else is pressuring you. Do not end up doing something that you will live to regret later. Your primary purpose for going to college or university is to get an higher level of education after all.
- Got questions? Ask!You are bound to have questions that need answers. Find a contact list or campus directory at your university’s website and start communicating. A faster response will be gained from a call, but e-mail is a good alternative.
This is not, by far, an exhaustive list. You may have a few tips of your own. Feel free to post them in the comments. All the best for the new academic year!