Many thoughts will occupy your mind as you prepare for college. Will I make new friends? Will I fit in? Will I be able for my course? Here’s a lowdown of everything you’ll need to know for the year ahead:
Believe in your own ability: You have come this far, don’t stop now. Things will seem very strange at first – you’ll have to get used to new structures, new people and a new system. Most students feel the same way and it is totally normal to need time to adjust to this so don’t feel alone if you are feeling lost.
Know your timetable and calendar: Find out what your academic day demands of you such as; lectures, tutorials, demonstrations, laboratory sessions, study sessions and so on. It is a huge advantage to find this information out sooner rather than later in the semester.
Read the handbook: Every course has one and students don’t always take the time to check them out. Find out key information which will include; deadlines, key dates and times, examination structures, rules and regulations and much more. It will remove the chance of having any nasty surprises from a looming deadline you didn’t realise you had, or clarify what you need for excelling in difficult assignments.
Start as you intend to continue: Attend registration, induction sessions, lectures, tutorials, demonstrations etc. and avail of any supports and services made available to you in the course of study. Many students do not realise the extent of help that is available to them during their time at college, and forget that the college wants to do all it can to see you succeed.
Develop a work ethic: You need to develop a consistent approach to your study, learning how to manage your time in meeting many different and conflicting deadlines. This should start on day one and not three weeks before your summer exams!
Be organised: Date your lectures, take notes and rewrite your notes soon after. These are your personal guide to your work and should be filed in a systematic order. Not being able to locate the information you need to know for an essay or exam can make the task incredibly more difficult than it needs to be.
Back up your work: Too many tears are shed over work lost and excuses are not tolerated at college. Store this information in different and accessible places. Make use of free programmes such as OneDrive, DropBox and GoogleDrive to organise and store your assignments and notes, and be sure to save them in additional places such as USB keys so that you can still access your work even if your computer malfunctions.
Get to know yourself better: Understand your strengths and weaknesses, know your friends, your confidants, know when you are comfortable in situations and when you feel threatened. Remember there is help at college for all situations whether you get into social, personal or academic difficulty. It’s always good to talk. Most colleges offer a free counselling service, and your Students Union Welfare Officer is also trained to help you if you find yourself struggling with your mental health at any time during college.
Get involved: Fresher’s week is an exciting and eventful week in which you will be introduced to college life, sports, clubs and societies. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and form lasting friendships which will shape and define your student experience. College is not all about study, it is important to adapt socially. Meet people who share your hobbies or find a new passion you’ve always wanted to try by joining and getting involved in college societies, choirs, volunteer groups and sports teams.
Make things happen: Going to college is about becoming informed, taking control, ownership and responsibility. Be your own driver. Set your own goals, monitor your progress, seek feedback and reward yourself when the work is done.
By taking control and getting involved you will have a truly memorable experience and this will facilitate your development in becoming a mobile, employable and contributing citizen of our world.