FIRST YEAR AT UNIVERSITY
1. DID YOU KNOW?!
About a third of South African students fail their first year because the challenges are too big...or they party too much!
Here are some tips from our past St Mary's Waverley students which might help you.
2. GET READY BEFORE YOU START UNIVERSITY
Practice your English and read books which will prepare you for your studies.
Improve your writing (note-taking) and computer skills.
“The most challenging aspect for us is our lack of self-confidence. At first, I did not dare to raise my hand to ask a question, as the other students’ English was much better. Some teachers have a strong accent and you can’t understand them.” - Hlulani Mukhari (BSC Physical Sciences, UJ)
3. STUDY SKILLS ARE THE KEY TO SUCCESS
You'll have to digest large amounts of information at a quicker pace than in high school. You need to improve your reading and study skills. Check this website: https://www.wits.ac.za/ccdu/study-skills/
You have to learn how to argue and how to think critically.
The tests are very different from those in high schools – you need to learn abstract thinking (out of the box)!
Find a balance between your large workload and your social life.
“At residences, there are parties every weekend and a lot of peer pressure.” - Hlulani Mukhari
"You will meet a lot of new people, good and bad, and you must get used to the idea of being alone. You may be faced with temptation, thinking of doing things that you were restricted from doing at home." - Mclean Ndlovu (2015 Matriculant, IT degree at Belgium Campus)
4. ASK FOR HELP
Don't be scared or ashamed to ask for help if you need academic or social support. You can also ask a senior student to mentor you.
"After doing a Physical Sciences test, I was sure I had failed and wanted to deregister the module. But, actually, my result was fine. So, there are times when you just want to give up! My lecturer in Physics gave me tips, like not to buy energy drinks. I got extra classes on Saturday and tutors. You have to ask for support to get it.” - Hlulani Mukhari
"The university counsellors are your friends; your lecturers are your friends.” - Mclean Ndlovu
"The challenges I had to overcome over the past two years were managing my time, as well as handling stress and trauma (I was once mugged during my first year after writing a difficult test that I failed).” - Martin Mashotela (Wits)
Keep in touch with your mentor via WhastApp and email as he/she might offer valuable advice.
Most universities have programmes to help struggling students and a counselling service to help you deal with personal problems such as relationship difficulties, anxiety, stress, depression, family issues, etc. Some offer also free meals.
Check these websites:
University of Johannesburg : www.uj.ac.za/corporateservices/ads/psycad
5. CLASSES ARE BIG AND FAST
“In first year, I was in a class of 600 students which made it rather hard for me to engage with the lecturer. I put into practice the 5Ps (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance). Preparation helped me get to class on time, with prior knowledge and well informed to engage in the lesson.” - Brillant Moyo – Bachelor of Accounting (UJ)
"Make sure you have a year planner, a diary to help you go through your tough times.” – McLean Ndlovu
6. KEEP MOTIVATED
At UJ, you will be kicked out in November if you pass less than 50% of your modules. But don't get depressed if you fail your first tests... Just keep up and know your goals!
"It's really hard to find motivation if you cling on to your previous downfalls as most people did."- Brillant Moyo – Bachelor of Accounting (UJ)
7. AVOID PLAGIARISM
If you copy your assignment from Internet, you can be dismissed from university.
8. BUILD YOUR SKILLS
Try to do an internship or job shadowing during your holiday in your field of study. It’s good for your CV and will help you to build contacts and references.