High school graduates are gearing up for the start of university studies. Needless to say, the expectations and excitement at the prospect of new experiences and opportunities in the soon-to-be freshmen students is palpable.
They have left the restraints, rules and regulations plus the limitations of high school and, presumably, are ready to embrace and enjoy the liberties that adulthood and university present.
To make the most out of university, a combination of a well lived social and academic life, as well as financial intelligence are integral parts of fully utilising the opportunities that higher learning institutions present.
Majority of the university students who spoke to The Education Times said one’s interactions with fellow students, lecturers and other people, both on and off campus, will determine the quality of their university days.
Irene Umutesi, a recent graduate, describes her four years at university as an eye-opening and exhilarating experience.
“I had a very strict upbringing which didn’t fully prepare me for the freedom that university presents a student. My parents didn’t even permit me to own a phone until I was in my first year, and they even chose the course for me,” she says.
“My time at university helped me to come out of my parent’s shadow and establish my own personality because for the first time, I was in position to make my own decisions, suffer no rebuke at my mistakes and I had the space to mix and mingle with whoever I pleased, which really broadened my outlook on life,” she adds.
University is a great transition for most people because most times, it is the first time young people are fully in control of making their own financial and social decisions. This, according to Justus Munyaburunga, a second year student of communication, determines the impact campus life has on the rest of one’s life.
“First year students usually have a limited idea of what awaits them. University is a place where every personality and opinion finds home. You will meet staunch religious people, atheists, and academicians, among others. The best part is that one can choose exactly how they want to be perceived,” he says.
Munyaburunga adds that university life is all about balance.
“No one but you has a say on how long you will stay out at night or how many hours you will set aside for your books. No one will tell you to attend or miss a class. That is what it means to be an adult. You have to know yourself pretty well and how far you are willing to go, and then pursue what not only makes you happy but also what you sense will open doors for your future,” he says.
Darius Murangwa, the public relations and communications manager at University of Rwanda’s College of Education, cautions soon-to-be first year students to approach their university education with caution.
“I have noticed that most first year students rarely pay attention to their institution’s academic rules and regulations, yet these are very important. University is about taking responsibility, not only for your social life, but also of your academics as success is determined primarily by the efforts you invest in,” he counsels.
Murangwa also encourages fresh university students to feel free to seek guidance from their lecturers and leave no stone unturned in their quest for quality and fulfilling education.
Franck Hirwa, who is joining university this year, says he is most excited about stepping out of his comfort zone and actively seeking out students from diverse backgrounds to have his own ideas challenged and sharpened.
With independence looming over them, mixed with the curiosity, university is the perfect environment for most people to try out their strengths and experiment with new possibilities.
Christine Osae, a lecturer at Adventist University of Central Africa, advises the soon-to-be first year students to set their targets right so that they are not distracted.
“The first thing first year students need to know and embrace is the freedom that awaits them. They ought to keep in mind that too much of anything is always bad as they experiment with their new lives. University also entails independent learning and in that case, ambitious students walk an extra mile to achieve their goals,” she says.
Osae notes that university is where people get to explore and, therefore, one must remember they are not an island and seek help through discussion and interaction with others. After graduation society expects maturity in people and university is supposed to prepare them for it,” she adds.Follow https://twitter.com/Samantha_Teta