Set for success for first-year students
If it’s only the end of September and you feel hopelessly overwhelmed already, rest assured that it’s pretty common for all first-year students. The transition to a completely new environment, increased academic expectations, sudden autonomy over one’s studies and forming new social connections can be a lot to take in all at once. Here are a few strategies that might help you.
Manage your new timetable
While you still have to sign up for classes, nobody will keep an eye on you if you actually attend the lectures or not. That might come with both feelings of immense freedom but also dread. A chance is that classes often take place in different buildings, you have free time slots between lectures and some classes might be quite late in the evening.
You need to organise your time properly right from the start so that: 1) You always know where you’re supposed to go. 2) You won’t forget to attend a class because you thought that you had so much time in between that taking a nap wouldn’t hurt.
Buy a fancy student planner with your university’s logo if that motivates you or utilise digital tools like Google Calendar. While a physical planner is more visual and tangible, you can set digital tools to notify you when it’s time for another class, for instance, 30 minutes in advance. If you’re a chaotic type who’s always running all over the place, it might be a lifesaver.
Know what’s coming
Having a lot of time is an illusion. The semester might be just starting, but, very soon, it’s going to be December and you will have no idea where the time disappeared. To prevent feeling stressed and overwhelmed when the exam period comes, you need to know what’s coming and plan accordingly.
Ask your tutors and professors about upcoming exam dates, the coursework you have to hand in before a certain deadline and note everything down. The point is that nothing comes as a surprise to you. You know exactly when your exams and essay deadlines are due so you can start preparing for them in advance.
Set realistic goals and limit comparisons
Remaining straight As at university when compared to secondary school is super hard. Hopefully, you’ve chosen a study programme that interests you and you really want to learn, not just memorise facts. Therefore, focus on the process of learning itself rather than the grades. You’re here to obtain knowledge and master new skills, not to score high for the score’s sake.
Your goals should be both realistic and contain a growth mindset. Maybe you didn’t get an A on that exam because the professor was very demanding, but you learned a lot, right? You’ve grown. Your writing skills got better because your professor made you compose several essays and you read a lot of books as part of your coursework. If you managed to pass with a decent grade, you succeeded.
Don’t feel ashamed to seek support
If you feel stressed out, you’re not alone. Connect to your classmates or reach out to your friends and family to share your feelings. A school counsellor might also provide the support you need and help you navigate your university studies.
Join clubs and student organisations. Sure, studying is your priority now, but don’t forget about your social life. Sometimes the thing you need might be to unwind from time to time. No, we’re not talking about going to a pub every night. Explore student organisations on your campus and join clubs that align with your interests. You can relieve that pressure while doing something fun and active.
Learn study skills
If you find yourself struggling with your studies, it’s not because you’re stupid. You already got into university which should a proof enough that you’re clever. However, the sheer amount of information you’re expected to absorb might be simply too much for your current study habits you developed at secondary school.
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Get your study habits to another level and master some real study skills. Fortunately, we have you covered with our series of articles on the topic. Everyone can learn how to study effectively!
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