The first year in university life or college will be crucial and it can make or break you as a student. Here are things you need to know before going to college and on Day One of your adult life.
Leaving school and heading to college can be a difficult time because of the unprecedented changes that may overwhelm students. Many students will need more time and support to assimilate in the new environment where they have to be independent, deal with budgeting, rent, food and the various psychological factors that would impact their state of mind.
In spite of all the difficulties, time in college can be and will be enjoyable. Students need to be prepared mentally, and physically, to face the challenges that lie ahead.
Here is a list of things every school leaver should know:
1. Intelligence or hardwork?
If you have a certain degree of ‘smarts’ or intelligence, it is certainly a good thing for you and will help you a lot. However, you must realise that there are other students who will be smarter than you. Therefore, don’t place a larger importance on your intelligence and ignore hardwork.
Working hard and being smart and skilful in your studies coupled with your intelligence will make all the difference in your life. You need to have determination, patience, and the will to spend long hours studying on daily basis.
Once you get to college, you will see something you may have not faced during your school time: competition at a higher level. You will have to compete with your classmate over grades, recognition and even for awards that could have monetary rewards.
If you are going to attend a higher tier university like Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, University Of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, MMU, UTP, and other universities in that category, expect to see very strong competition.
The point here is to be careful and not let your guard down and depend on other’s more than you depend on yourself.
Most importantly, you will gain the respect and admiration of your lecturers, academic staff and peers if you work hard and show your independence.
3. Build the right relationships
Working in isolation won’t serve you well and it won’t last long because eventually you will need to work with others whether you like it or not. Have the right kind of friends, build professional relationships with professors, and maintain the relationship with your books, creating an environment conducive to excelling and successfully completing your studies.
Relationships are very important but you need to be smart about the (who, when, where and what) attributes of each relationship.
4. Living on a budget
You may still have the privilege of having food ready for you at home after school, but this will change soon. You will need to learn how to prepare healthy meal for yourself on a budget.
You won’t be able to eat nice food all the time. During the month, you might be flat broke and your parents might not be able to help you. At that time, you may have to live on instant noodles and canned food and even cold leftovers. So plan ahead and resist the temptation to spend in the beginning of the month, keeping in mind that instant noodles await if you do!
5. Do your work, no excuse
Your professors will expect you to complete your work on time and according to instructions. They will rarely excuse your delays or give you second chances. Other students have different circumstances and may even have things worse than yours. They would also be expected to do their work no matter what.
It is no longer called homework because you’re not really at home. It is called work because you’re supposed to be a responsible adult who does things independently at home, in your dorm room, in a coffee-shop, in the library; basically anywhere.
Plan your studies ahead, adjust your schedule according to your classes, and make sure you don’t procrastinate.
6. Nothing is free, good information is expensive
Not all your professors will make sense to you and you will have difficult time understanding some of them. As a result, you need to get your own information and learn independently.
Good information is expensive in the sense that you need to spend lots of time searching the Internet and the library for sources of information that will aid you.
Utilise resources like Google, Khan Academy, Udemy, FutureLearn and of course YouTube to get what you need.
7. Learn beyond class materials
Passing with good grades is important for your time in college, but employers will not be looking at these grades to give you a job. You need to develop your skills beyond the classroom setting. Take free classes online, explore a valuable skill, improve your existing skills and learn new ones.
Skill like graphic design, programming, web development, mobile development, search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, and social media management are some of the skills that would help you get ahead in the job market. So will public speaking, the art of conversation, listening and pitching ideas.
Mobile is the way for the future. You are probably reading this on mobile right now. So, you need to know more about this.
Your success or failure is completely driven by your effort and not by others.
8. Expect less after graduation
Remember point 2: competition? Well here is something you have to realise. You are not the only one with a degree. The fact that there are at least 100 students in the programme you chose to study is enough to inform you that there are at least 100 applicants who would apply for the job opening you will be applying for.
So you need to stand out from these 100 people. You need to tell your potential employer that you are someone who is worthy of the trust and responsibility that would be placed into you.
Good grades and high CGPA isn’t going to be enough. A degree isn’t going to be enough.
Point 7 here allows you to build a better resume and an attractive CV. The skills you learn beyond the classroom will pay off handsomely here.
At the end, it will be a mix of your performance in college and what you learned on your own during that time. It may not be the perfect job at the start, but it will be a job that could get you started on the path to building your career.