Tips to survive your first year of university
1. Take a proactive role in your learning
This may be an obvious point, but we students have a tendency to forget the importance of learning during our university years – especially in the midst of managing deadlines, trying to moderate our caffeine intake, and dragging our heels and sleep-deprived selves to our morning classes.
Learning during your university years doesn’t have to be restricted to your classroom, either. If that course on art history conflicts with your schedule, consider enrolling in a free digital course from online platforms. I’ve taken a few courses on topics that I would not have otherwise been able to fit into my schedule or degree program on campus. There is always a way if you look for one.
2. Use your free time wisely
Depending on your course, you might only spend around 12 hours a week on campus. Although this gives you time for work, seeing friends and the odd sleep-in, you’ll need to set aside study time (even outside of peak assessment periods) and make sure you’re taking time out to relax. If you have a break between classes, try using the time to catch on assignments. Have a free day during the week? Why not organize an internship?
3. Ask for help when you need it
Needing help isn’t something to be ashamed of. You might need a crash course on academic referencing, another tour of the library, assistance with changing a subject or a quick explanation of a new assignment. Reach out to your classmates, lecturers, tutors and other support staff — you’ll find your answer if you ask. The institution website is another great resource. Your campus should have a student support office, where you can access services like counselling, financial advice and academic assistance.
4. Put it all together.
Using one sentence or a concise paragraph, write your career vision. Consider writing a short vision statement along with a short description of how you currently see yourself accomplishing it - reaching your vision. Write everything in the present tense, as if you already have accomplished it. This creates the right frame of mind – confidence about your future – rather than keeping your vision in the distant future.
5. Keep your vision visible.
Once you've created your career vision statement, plaster it in various places and read it and say it aloud often. Imagine yourself achieving your career vision. Constantly reinforcing the image of you in your career vision will help you both consciously and subconsciously develop goals and action steps that will lead you to success.
6. Review your career vision statement regularly.
Your vision can - and most likely will - change as you move closer to it. As part of an annual career planning process, you should review your career vision statement and make any adjustments that you feel are necessary.