10 Things you Should Know Before Going to University

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There are a few things you should know before you start your student journey. Shirley breaks down a few pointers to help you prepare for your first year studying. 

So you’ve got that acceptance letter to a university, you’re packed and excited to begin a new phase in your life. Upon your arrival, some things may take you by surprise or leave you feeling anxious and confused. While other things may get you pumped up and excited and be a huge distraction. Either way, we don’t need to stress the importance of your university journey.

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Here are a few things to consider before you step into student territory and to help prepare you for your first year at university.

1. One of the Thousands

You may have been the top of the class in school, matriculated with high scores and prizes, but now that you are at university, you become one of thousands of brilliant students. You now join the ranks of many other students who have the privilege to make it to their chosen institution.

What this means is that you now have a chance to continue to prove yourself, by going to lectures, engaging in fruitful conversation and chilling out a little bit too. Do not assume that because you scored the top of your class in matric, that you can miss out on your lectures at university. Your work is far from over! University presents many new challenges and many more chances to learn.

2. Be Curious – Not Judgemental!

University presents a unique opportunity for you to meet people who may be far removed from your comfort zone. By learning to interact with people who are completely different from you, or who have different (or similar) views to you; you are able to grow and learn. Do not miss out on these opportunities by shrinking away from people who may scare you. Instead, keep positive through the challenges. At university, everyone is new and everyone is in the same boat.

Related article: Remaining Positive through the Challenge

Remember to keep an open mind: Universities are places for meeting all kinds of people of different languages, cultures, races and places. Be open and welcoming to people’s opinions and experiences. This may be difficult at first but by approaching everyone with curiosity rather than judgement you will soon see your views begin to change.

3. You’re on Your Own

Well, sort of. You now have a chance to choose when to wake up, whether to make your bed or not and what to spend your money on. This is obviously both a good and a bad thing. You have an opportunity to gain a great amount of self-sufficiency at university.

Need more money? Rather than calling mom and dad every weekend, how about getting a job? The options are limitless at University. You don’t feel like waking up for lectures? Your call. Do you want to spend the weekend studying? Also your call. You have a chance to make good habits and great friends. Have a look at 5 ways to earn money as a student.

4. Washing…

Speaking of being on your own, I would seriously suggest that you learn to do your own washing. Knowing a simple skill like this will save you a mountain of shrunken clothes. Trust me on this.

Take a day and get your mom to teach you the basics, it will definitely come in handy.

5. Work Hard

This seems obvious, but recent statistics suggest that only 21% of South African students graduate. University is all about having fun, meeting new people and gaining independence, but you are primarily there to get a qualification. Don’t waste that opportunity! Try to complete your assignments on time and to study for those exams as far in advance as possible. Come graduation, you’ll realise that all that time studying was well worth it.

Related article: Keep Calm and Graduate

6. Play Hard

What would university be if you simply spent all your time studying? Go out and have fun. There are so many options to suit every taste and preference. Make friends with people who share the same interests as you and those who don’t. There is no harm in trying out new things. This, of course, does not mean that you should partake in things you are not comfortable with. Not much of a social drinker? Get yourself a Coca-Cola and enjoy the night anyway.

7. Look after yourself

Most universities have a Sanatorium whereby students can assess some form of health care for free, or at a very minimal rate. It is important to look after your health and make sure that you are healthy and well, both mentally and physically.

Universities also offer places where you can deal with emotional issues. There is no shame in reaching out for help, in instances of depression, or grief. University can be mentally and emotionally challenging, this is why these places exist.

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8. Respect your Elders

This is one thing that does not change when you come to university. While you are treated as an adult and you are expected to behave as one, this does not give you the right to disrespect those who are older than you (or younger for that matter!). From your lecturers, the people who may help you with admin issues, to the people who dish up your food at the dining hall; remember to address them respectfully and be polite. Manners always go a long way, no matter how old you are.

9. Don’t Forget Your Family

With all the fun you’re having at University, it can be easy to get a little caught up. Try to remember to call home every once in a while and make sure that your family knows how you are doing. Especially if you are not doing well. Chances are your family are already concerned and wondering how you are doing; make that call, SMS or Skype date. Keep your loved ones up to date.

10. Welcome to the Family

Welcome to the family. Being a student at an institution is an incredible privilege no matter what kind of background you come from. Remember to make the most of every experience and situation.

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