Thursday 7 February 2013

Hitting the books and other tips on how to adjust to tertiary education

The Lone Ranger
If you’re a first-year student at university or college, this may be your first experience living away from home for an extended period of time. It is a definite break from your usual home environment.
It’s normal to have concerns about forming friendships. When new students look around, it may seem that everyone else is self-confident and socially successful. The reality is that everyone is having the same concerns.
If you give yourself sufficient time, you should find new friends in the university to provide structure and a valuable support system in this strange new environment. The important thing to remember when meeting new people is to simply be yourself.
Meaningful, new relationships should not be expected to develop overnight. It took a great deal of time to develop intimacy in high school friendships; the same will be true of intimacy in university friendships.

Cry freedom
Increased personal freedom can feel both wonderful and frightening. You’ll find that you can now come and go as you choose with no one to criticise you. At the same time, things are no longer predictable. The strange environment with new kinds of procedures and new people can create the sense of being on an emotional roller-coaster. This is completely normal and you’ll find your own balance sooner or later.

Sharing your space
Living with roommates can sometimes lead to intense problems. Negotiating issues around personal property, personal space, sleep, and relaxation needs can be a difficult task. It becomes even more difficult when roommates are of different ethnic/cultural backgrounds with very different values. Communicating your legitimate needs calmly, listening with respect to a roommate's concerns, and being willing to compromise to meet each other's most important needs can go a long way towards finding peace in your living environment.

It is unrealistic to expect that roommates will be best friends. Roommates may work out mutually satisfying living arrangements, but the reality is that each may tend to have his or her own circle of friends.

Worrying about workloads
University classes are a great deal more difficult and involve more responsibility than high school classes. There are more reading assignments, and the exams and papers cover a greater amount of material. Instructors expect students to do more work outside the classroom. In order to survive, the student must take responsibility for his or her actions. This means you need to follow the course outlines and keep up with the recommended reading. Everything is up to you as the student. If you miss a class, it is up to you to borrow lecture notes from someone who was present. If you are having difficulty with course work, don’t be afraid to ask for help before it’s too late - ask to do assignments from previous years for practice, request an appointment with a lecturer, or ask a student counsellor for advice and support.

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