Clem OnojeghuoYour first year at university is an exciting time – but also full of many challenges. For many students, it’s the first time living away from home. Plus it’s a very different way of studying that requires you to take far more responsibility than you’ve ever experienced before.

Feeling overwhelmed? Here are some tips to help you succeed at university:

1. Use the support offered by your university

You may feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end, but all universities offer support for their students – from medical and health services, including counselling, to bridging courses to assist with academic essay writing.

Pay attention during orientation week – you’ll get all the details at this time. Make friends so that you can have a good support group of fellow students. If you feel you’re not coping at university, don’t be scared to reach out to your lecturers, tutors, or admin staff. They’re there to help.

2. Learn some time management skills

At high school, you’re somewhat spoofed when it comes to assignments, projects and exams. At university, suddenly you have a whole lot to achieve in a much shorter space of time… and how you manage that time, is left entirely up to you. It’s all too easy to get swamped by work and forget about an important assignment until the night before!

Get yourself a big wall calendar or desk calendar and mark off deadlines for different projects and exam dates. This gives you lots of clarity and helps you plan your work. Make use of an online planning tool such as Trello to help manage projects, to do lists and deadlines. Learning time management at university will change your life – and help you long into the future.

3. Readings and references

College first-year students are often shocked at the amount of reading they’re required to do. It really is a lot!

Reading the prescribed texts for your courses is important because it gives you the knowledge that you need to back up your opinion. When your lecturer is marking your essay or exam, they don’t want to know how you feel. They want to know what you think based on substantial evidence to back up your opinion. So, reading is an essential part of university life, and you need to make time for it in your schedule – see time management above!

Readings also need to be appropriately referenced. This means that you need to credit any author whose work has influenced your ideas and opinion. If you don’t include references, this is considered plagiarism – academic theft – and you will be penalised severely. Referencing teaches you good academic practice, and to respect the work and intellectual property of academic authors.

There is a proper format for referencing published books and articles, as well as online articles. If you’re confused, ask your lecturer or tutor to show you the correct way to reference.

4. Make time for fun

Yes, you’re at college to study for a degree… but a big part of what you learn at university doesn’t come from academics. It comes from finding yourself, making new friends and maturing into a well-rounded young adult. Make sure you give yourself a break from the books once in a while to connect with your friends, let your hair down and have some fun

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