The transition between high school and higher education is never easy. An adaptation period is always necessary in order to settle in and manage this change. Passing the first year of higher education definitely won’t happen by chance – it happens through hard work, motivation and perseverance. Today, I would like to give you a few basic tips that can never be stressed enough, even if at first glance they may seem obvious. Your success depends entirely on you and your willingness, so give yourself the means to succeed right from the start.
1) Don’t underestimate the workload that awaits you
High school and university are two very different worlds. Of course, you should be optimistic and positive but don’t forget to be realistic too! The workload will get bigger every week so you won’t be able to start studying just a few hours the day before an exam hoping to get 70%. You will also have to ‘dissect’ the subject before starting to study it, that is to say you have to evaluate and define priorities; each chapter is important of course, but to different degrees. And even if you are particularly gifted in a certain field, have a great memory or a highly developed sense of logic, don’t just rely on your skills! On the contrary, make the most of those skills to study better and consequently to multiply your chances of succeeding, but keep in mind that actually doing some work is inevitable.
2) Work regularly
Certain students have the terrible habit of starting to study a few short weeks before the exam period. Be realistic – one month of studying will never allow you to catch up on a semester of work, or even a whole academic year’s worth of work. You will have to be self-disciplined and set yourself weekly or even daily objectives. Working a little bit every day will be much more efficient than trying to remember an astronomical amount of information in one go. On top of that, studying regularly will allow you to ‘digest’ the subject, to think about it and therefore to end up mastering it completely. It will also have a positive impact on your self-confidence and you will face your exams in a much more serene manner.
3) Self-evaluate yourself and your work method
An inappropriate method of working will inevitably lead to failing your first year of university. That’s why it is important to make sure your method is the right one right from the beginning of the year. If that’s the case, then great, you’re on the right track! If on the other hand, a few necessary adjustments need to be made, realising that is already a first step in the right direction and you will still have time to improve upon it. When students are willing and spend hours and hours studying and still manage to fail, maybe it is time for them to rethink their study method. Understanding what ‘studying’ really means is essential; it isn’t reading the subject matter once, twice or a thousand times, but rather reading it properly, before understanding it, memorising it and finally mastering it. Truly understanding what you are studying is fundamental. Learning things off by heart won’t help you to think about it logically and you will feel lost if the questions asked aren’t what you imagined.
4) Work in a group
Solidarity is very important. Meeting people is part of what allows you to adapt to this new university life, but it can also help you pass the year. Creating contacts will allow you to help each other and allows you to motivate each other – keeping your spirits up is really important (and I’m speaking from experience!). If I hadn’t been lucky enough to be able to count on my classmates, I think I would have found it much harder to stay focused and motivated during my whole first year of studies. Whatever we do, the people that surround us and the environment in which we evolve have an influence on our mood and our performance, so don’t be shy and dare to meet other students.
5) Seek help from the student help services
If you are really feeling distressed, don’t hesitate to seek help from the student help services in your university – that’s what they’re there for. Whether your problem is linked to your work method, as we already discussed, or the subject matter itself, they will help you find an adequate solution. It’s important to act and fix the problem as soon as it arises, otherwise it will only get worse and you could end up feeling overwhelmed.
6) Make sure you’ve made the right choice
Starting studies means that you will be confronted with a specific field on a daily basis for the next 3 to 5 years of your life, never mind the years following your graduation where you will start working. So it is important to make the right choice from the onset. That is the point of OrientaEuro’s Personalised Career Guidance. Throughout the process, you will learn to know yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses, which will allow you to choose studies that suit YOU and that YOU are passionate about, instead of going down a path for the wrong reasons. For example, choosing a path because of the prestige associated with it, without taking in all the factors, is a bad idea. It takes all sorts to make a world, not only doctors and lawyers; there are an infinite amount of career possibilities that will allow you to not only blossom but also to use your talents and passions.
I hope that these tips will have given you even more will to succeed and I wish you all the best in your endeavours!