Survival guide at UJ
Lelo Peters, February 2016
Perhaps you were popular in high school, or you were in a leadership position and maybe you had other accolades. University, however, is a different ball game – high school successes don’t automatically apply at University. A transition to university is life changing; it is a transition into adulthood. The decisions you make during your first year of study will have an impact on the rest of your varsity days and beyond. This is not meant to scare you but to make you prepared; I wish someone had told me this before my first year.
The transition to university is an exciting journey which comes with a lot of self-discovery, self-awareness and fulfilment. It is an opportunity to meet new people and a start to a prosperous life. In everything you do, be true to yourself and enjoy your university experience – it is good to have a balance between your academics and your student life activities; however, you must always keep your eye on the ball. Let me share my survival tips with you:
1. Familiarise yourself with the first-year programmes
It is advisable to attend all organised first-year programmes. UJ has an informative and compulsory First Year Seminar programme, which includes academic orientation to the faculty, the department and the specific programmes for which students have been accepted. Students will meet their lecturers, receive their timetables and get to know their fellow students and the campus they will be studying on.
The First Year Seminar is also when students will be introduced to the wide range of academic development and support services the University offers – the Library and Information Centres, Writing Centres, the Computer Facilities, Psychological Counselling and Career Development and the Career Resource Centres. These services are free and aim to enable students to achieve success in their studies. You can watch the orientation videos online in the comfort of your home.
2. Attend class and prepare
Attending class is very important for your studies and will ensure that you are ready for all academic responsibilities. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you’ll also receive vital information from the lecturers about what to expect in tests, changes in due dates, etc. However, preparing in advance for a class will help you understand your course material better and you can ask for assistance in class.
3. Consult with your lecturers and tutors
Tutors and lecturers schedule office hours for the sole purpose of meeting with students — take advantage of that time, make an appointment and get more information on the course material. This has helped me in the past two years as a UJ student, and it has made the journey easier. This will also help you build a relationship that will be very beneficial in future.
4. Take advantage of the study resources on campus
All UJ campuses have computer labs and well managed libraries where you can study, do research and do your assignments. Additionally, UJ has the Academic Development Centre (ADC) which strives to provide theoretically based, practical interventions and developmental opportunities to both academic staff and students. The Centre offers different services that will contribute positively to your studies. I normally take in my assignments for guidance and assistance; this has helped me structure my assignments better. The ADC staff is friendly, so I consult as many times as I need to. My writing has also improved since I started using the ADC services.
5. Socialise and make new friends
People won’t necessarily come looking for you; engage with people, converse and ask questions. If you take an interest in people, people will take an interest in you. It is advisable to start this during the First Year Seminar week when everyone is in the same boat and is actively looking for people to be friends with. This is also the best time to get study partners – try to have at least two associates in every class (Hansen, 2015). UJ hosts cultural student events and varsity sports games which are normally fun and relaxing. Find out about these events and meet new people there as well.
6. Make time for yourself
Do not overwork yourself; you need to take a break and do things that make you happy. Relax, go out and explore the city. Make sure that you are safe at all times, do research on a place you intend to visit and go out in groups than alone; my friends and I normally identify a place or an activity we are interested in, then read its reviews before we go out; this has been a perfect way to plan our outings.
UJ is an amazing place to be at and I wish you will enjoy it as much as I have.
Chapman University (2016). Ten Tips to Help Survive Your Academic Journey. https://www.chapman.edu/students/new-students/first-year-experience/10-tips.aspx Accessed 19 January 2016
Hansen, RS. (2015). How to Survive — and Excel in — Your College Years. http://www.quintcareers.com/first-year-success/ Accessed 19 January 2016
Jarvis, R (2014). 31 Fun Things To Do In Johannesburg Under R200. http://www.travelstart.co.za/blog/fun-things-to-do-in-johannesburg-under-r200/#ixzz3yFzCNDT0 Accessed 20 January 2016