How to Succeed in Your First Year in University
Irrespective of which secondary or high school you attended, the university is a leveller for everyone. There may be those who come with an air of superiority because of their background or those who may have a feeling of inferiority by comparing themselves to others. Don’t get caught in that web, see the university as a leveller in a way and take it that it is as you lay your bed that you lie on it. First year on campus maybe somewhat challenging considering the fact that you’re not used to the system, but the following strategies can be quite helpful in helping you succeed and survive in your first year in the university.
1. Adapt Quickly
While it is normal for you to first find it a bit strange and new environment, it is important for you to adapt and adjust to your university environment early enough. Have an adjusted mind set that’s already made up to survive on campus. Make it clear to yourself quick enough that’s your new environment in the meanwhile. Find a way to make yourself comfortable with the new place and use it to your advantage as much as possible.
2. Work on Your Time Management
One major difference between secondary/high school and university is that in the secondary school setting, especially boarding systems, everything is planned for you already – time for classes, break time, breakfast, lunch, siesta, prep and the likes, but in the university setting you are your own CEO, so the way you manage yourself will determine whether you achieve success or otherwise. So be sure to plan, not just your time, but yourself. Switch fast from the mode of being supervised and monitored to the new expedient mode of supervising and monitoring yourself.
3. Meet with Your Level Advisor
It will be a good start if you meet your level adviser early enough to familiarise and ask questions. Try to book an appointment with whomever the lecturer is that’s your level adviser and ensure to ask important questions as to how best you can maximise your time and your opportunity of being on campus.
4. Attend Orientations
The school will likely organise an orientation programme for all freshers, attend. It may not look too important to some students, there may be information and important things you need to know that will be passed across there. Don’t miss it. If you start on a serious note, that can serve as a pedal for you to continue that way.
5. Choose the Right Friends
It goes without saying that birds of a feather flock together and that if you walk with five people of a kind, whether good or bad, you’ll be the sixth. So, if you walk with disciplined students, you’ll likely be one too. Know that it’s not the most intelligent students that have the best grades, but the most disciplined ones who apply the right principles to their studies. Therefore, choose your friends wisely and make sure you start early to read together, do group discussions and attend classes together if possible.
6. Avoid Distractions
There’ll be so many things calling your attention in your new environment whether you stay on campus or off campus. There’ll be friends, programmes, clubs, activities, unions here and there for you to be attracted to, but be focused. Let your primary purpose be underlined in your mind and at least for your very first year, avoid all those distractions as much as possible. Remember you don’t really know the system yet and if those distractions make you fail, your primary purpose of being on campus is forfeited.
7. Record Lectures if Possible
This is just in case you have the opportunity to record your lecturers during class. While you may not be able to grasp everything during the class, a recorded lecture can be listened to over and over again and you can fill in gaps in your notes.
8. Choose Your Courses Wisely
Be sure to seek appropriate information as to the courses you are supposed to register. Pick the required load units and be sure they are the right courses.
9. Identify Your Best Points for Study
Quickly check round the campus and observe the places where you assimilate faster. Places with the least distractions and best motivation for reading. Form a habit of always going to those places when you want to study. Don’t just study anywhere, have a reading culture and let where you read be part of it, but ensure it is safe also.
10. Make Use of School Facilities
There are different facilities in the school that are there to be of help to the students. The library is a major one, make use of the library. Some schools have provision for internet connections, ensure you get the information required for access and use when needed. The school counselling department is another place you can visit when you are in doubt or need some advice. Register early at the school clinic so as to afford their services when needed.
11. Take Deadlines Serious
Lecturers give deadlines for assignments; you have to respect these deadlines. Not taking deadlines seriously is what will make you postpone doing your assignments to the eleventh hour, this can make you do a rushed rough and mediocre work which won’t earn good scores. So, be sure to attend to deadlines early enough so you can have time to dot the ‘I’s and cross the ‘t’s.
12. Interact with Your Seniors
This is a very important thing you have to do. Get to meet and interact with your predecessors in your department, those in second year, third year and others. Ask them relevant questions, initiate and sustain good relationships with some of them. Collect their past notes, past questions and you can even request that they teach you difficult courses and concepts.
13. Attend Tutorials
Attending tutorials is a brilliant way of excelling right from your first year. Look out for groups that are organising tutorials steadily and busy yourself with them. You can do this especially for courses that seem difficult for you to handle. And if a suitable one is not available, find a way to have one organised.
14. Manage Your Money
This cannot be overstressed, how much money you have on you will determine how best you can attend to your needs like making photocopies, printing, buying foodstuffs, and taking care of yourself. It can even affect your class attendance if you’re staying off campus as per transport fare. It is therefore important for you to budget the money on you well considering all your needs, so you don’t get stranded.
15. Take Care of Yourself
Your health is very important to your performance. If you are sick, that will mean probably missing some classes, not studying for some time or even affect performance in tests and exams depending on how serious the sickness is. So, do your best to eat healthy foods, treat yourself quickly when you notice symptoms and be optimal to respond adequately to school demands.
16. Study Hard
Be ready to pay the price to succeed. Have a good and feasible timetable for your study. Join helpful discussion groups. Use the library, watch YouTube lectures relevant to your courses online.