Traversing your campus for the first time is an irrevocably daunting task. Much larger than your high school grounds, dotted with huge buildings, impregnated with people from all over the world and of such varying ages that you may as well be roaming an independent town, there is nothing quite like university. A new, challenging environment, however, does not have to be synonymous with disaster, and here are the steps I followed to ensure that my transition from school to university was smooth and relatively faultless:
Attend Class: This seems pitifully obvious, but at university, when you’re responsible for your own learning, staying up late to study and socialise, and having trouble pulling yourself out of bed in the morning, it’s only too easy to forget to attend that ‘pointless tutorial’, or to promise yourself that you’ll only miss it ‘this once’, a trend, I promise, that will quickly escalate into a weekly occurrence. There’s no denying that university classes, like all classes, can be tedious, but ultimately try to remember that you’re studying the topics that you’ve selected, and that you’re likely paying too hefty a fee to ditch your tuition and fail your units anyway. Attendance is necessary for results, and good results are necessary for survival at university. Don’t forget that you’re at a centre for learning, and this must be the primary reason why you attend, even if you’re not being reprimanded for your absenteeism.
- Speak up and Socialise: University knows very little bounds, and on campus you can and likely will be socialising with people of diverse ages, ethnicities, and interests. The key is to wield a sword against prejudice and insularity, and to politely address the peers around you. This is another key reason for attending class and participating in your studies. Having companions on campus, particularly in your classes, plays an important role in our social learning and our own confidence. Feeling revered and happy at university is the foundation on which successful studies are built, and this process is greatly simplified if you endeavour to maintain an amicable relationship with everyone. Just remember that anyone you genuinely dislike only has to be tolerated for a short amount of time each week.
- Drink Coffee: Maybe two or three a day. Okay, so it’s not the healthiest or cheapest of brews, but in my experience caffeine and university belong together like Romeo and Juliette. They’re that annoying couple that you’re obligated to invite everywhere despite knowing that they’ll spend the night ignoring the multitude and intertwining fingers, cooing at each other like a pair of sickly pigeons. Not only are the majority of study sessions and social gatherings conducted over a small army of steaming coffee mugs, but those early mornings after an extremely late night of study or socialising are barely possible without some sort of caffeine hit. Get to campus, order a coffee and something greasy like a hash brown, and shuffle to class with all the other resident zombies. Exercise and healthy eating are important too, but sometimes the diet of a university student must be fuelled by, to put it blatantly, crap.
- Organise your notes: My final tip on surviving university is also one of the hardest to abide by. Organisation, even for those of us to whom it comes naturally, is no simple feat when pages of scrawled, barely legible notes from a series of forgotten classes are involved. However, at university I’m constantly imbibing far more information than I can remember, so my only option is to take down the information and store it somewhere for later review. This task becomes impossible without an adequate system of filing or categorising the notes and, as disorganisation during exam time feels like an unsterilized injection of pure stress, such a system is a necessity. My recommendation would be to use a folder with loose-leaf paper that can easily be transferred and moved around. Date each page, use tabs and colour codes, and if you have something in the wrong place, simply move it into order. It may seem like a lot of effort, but believe me you’ll reap the benefits later.
So there it is, my tips for not only surviving university, but for making your time there fun, productive and enlightening. Remember to take the subjects that you want to take and to stay focused. The rest will follow.