How To Have A Successful First Year At University

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Many prospective university and college students struggle to find their feet in the first year of their studies. AdV-Tech academic director, Felicity Coughlan shares some useful tips which will help them to have a successful first year. 


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Tertiary environments are difficult to adapt to for most students and it has become even more difficult now that students have to partake in online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Experts say that just over 70% of first year students in South Africa are the first in their family to attend university, thus they are put under immense pressure to do well in their tertiary studies. 

AdV-Tech academic director, Felicity Coughlan, says that it is better for students to be nervous than overconfident when they first enter university as the nervousness is a sign that they are taking it seriously. 

She suggests that students set up a timetable so that they can manage their time wisely especially now that it is their responsibility to ensure that they attend classes and prepare well for tests and examinations. 

Another tip she shares is that students must find someone who is pursuing the same qualification as them so that they can familiarise themselves with the content and the modules for their specific course. 

Students could also familiarise themselves with the content by doing pre-readings when they receive the textbooks for their modules. 

She says that they should ensure that they are familiar with the lecture environments they will make use of whether that is online or in person. 

"The key thing that we're trying to communicate to students is to eliminate as many of the unknowns as you possibly can," says Coughlan. 

In the social environment she says that it is easier for students to socialize if they establish friendships with people who they can relate to and share value frames with. Making friends is also important so that students create good support networks for themselves. 

"Find one or two friends, you don't have to be the social butterfly to fit in," she says. 

Coughlan says that students should look into joining sporting activities or clubs and societies at the university in order to network with their peers. 

Students are encouraged to keep each other safe especially as they are exposed to risks such as Gender-Based Violence (GBV). 

Students should also reach out to the support networks provided by the university if they feel that they need help with anything concerning academics or their mental health. 

Coughlan reminds students that while university may seem daunting, there is lots of fun to be had. 


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