Joining university is a big deal! Swapping the comfort of your own home, family and daily routine for new friends, higher expectations, and a brand-new home can be scary to say the least.
However, this is not meant to scare you or take away any of the joy, excitement, and anticipation you feel about going to university - quite the opposite. It is all about the things you need to do not only to survive your first year, but also to thrive in university.
The first few weeks on campus are extremely critical for all new students. It is during this time that you make critical decisions that will have an effect on the rest of your life. Whatever you do, be sure to be yourself and try to enjoy your university experience as much as possible.
One of the biggest mistakes freshmen make is comparing themselves to other students. While it is easy to feel lost, especially when it comes to academics, remember that everyone has unique talents, and you have three/four years to cultivate yours. I implore you to extend grace to yourself and have confidence in the fact that you were chosen not only for your academic competency but also for the perspective you have to offer your peers and professors.
Shed your inhibitions and prior conceptions of how people can be. University provides an environment that fosters creativity, friendship and acceptance. Don’t aim to prove those that doubted you wrong, but push yourself to prove yourself wrong.
Unlike high school, university offers you full independence - too much freedom. Expect the administration not to care about you. You’re a single yellow/green hanging folder in an ocean of student folders, so be self motivated.
You must attend classes. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you’ll also receive vital information from the professors about what to expect on tests, or changes in due dates. In high school, the teachers tended to lead you through all the homework and due dates.
In university, the professors post the assignments — often for the entire semester — and expect you to be prepared. Strive for good grades. While good grades could have come naturally to you in high school, you will have to earn them in university — and that means setting some goals for yourself and then making sure you work as hard as you can to achieve them.
As much as I would like to scream “grades”, your social life is a huge part of the university experience. Getting involved on campus in clubs, organizations, or athletics will help you meet new people and develop lasting friendships. Enjoy yourself and the friends you spend your time with—even if you’re not doing anything at all. University is about the people you meet, the experiences you go through, and the memories you make.
As a freshman, you will also face the fix of indecision. Despite your coming into university with a strong idea of what you’d like to do with the rest of your life, don’t be afraid to take classes that challenge your suppositions. A single course could be a game-changer.
Similarly, don’t feel pressured to make a hasty decision about a career or a major. It doesn’t matter if it seems as though everyone else seems to know what they’re doing with their lives — believe me, they don’t — university is the time for you to really discover who you are, what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, and what you want to be. It’s not a race; take your time and enjoy exploring your options.
By the way, even the rich get broke in university. You need to keep track of your money. If you’ve never had to create a budget, now is the time to do so. Find ways to stretch your money – and as best you can, avoid all unnecessary expenses. Also, do not try so hard to fit in the high social class- live within your budget.
Now that you know, welcome to university- a land of the free!
The writer is a lecturer at The Adventist University of Central Africa