The onslaught is upon us! University has begun and it’s once more into the breach dear friends, while many of you amateur knights of knowledge may be excited at the prospect of your first year at university, many of you are unprepared and may find yourselves overwhelmed as the week progresses. But fear not, as I have interviewed some of the finest individuals who have made it out of the depths of academic hell – firmly grasping their sanity while snagging a couple of distinctions in the process.

Taking to the university grounds of WITS, I asked 3 graduates from the Humanities, Accountancy and Sciences, 5 questions for those just starting out – and surprisingly, many of their answers were similar.

What Are Your Tips for Surviving The First Week Of University?

Endeavour to work from the outset, start out strong and commit. It’s better to sacrifice the time now instead of taking the detour to your qualification. Examples of a detour are: “Heck I focus better with a beer or two, lemme go grab a few drinks in the break”, “This lectures boring, I’ll self-study because I’m a modern unrecognized genius”. It pains me to say this, but a routine truly is your best bet.

Find a few like-minded friends, seriously, we all advocate being friendly and introducing yourself to anyone and everyone. Fight the clutch of social anxiety that wrestles all of us into loneliness. It’s difficult, but university despite being filled with people can be an incredibly lonely place.

Carry an umbrella, get acquainted with campus and learn your lecturer’s names! Most universities have apps and they all have websites so Millennial Up and track down a digital copy of a campus map. Don’t be ashamed to ask for directions, we’ve all been there and it’s also an excuse to break the ice.

Above all be your own person, university is a diverse place with a very welcoming and accepting approach to uniqueness, don’t be afraid to be you! There’s more to be learned than the stuff in your overpriced textbooks.

What Key Piece of Advice Would You Give A First Year To Succeed In The Year Ahead

Find a balance, your main purpose is to seek out knowledge, it doesn’t hurt however to be a bit social and to exercise (I’m speaking to you Philosophy/Engineering students). With that said don’t drown your first year in brandy and coke (Boozing is also expensive, don’t plead poverty and then drink like a billionaire).

Go to your tutorials (basically a class type structure where you can ask a tutor all those difficult questions.) Make friends with people from different degrees, they truly diversify your education. You don’t only learn in the lecture halls… You must try your best to do all the work, it really does pay off in the eleventh hour (Cough cough, right before an economics lecture trying to learn what to include in order to calculate GDP).

Mostly for the BA students, don’t leave essays for the last-minute, this comes from an incredibly successful individual who graduated with distinction in undergrad and honours.

I, on the other hand, was significantly more lax and left most essays for the final day. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE PRESSURE. If you intend to make a bold statement, you better be sure your shit is iron clad, or your marker will put a FAT red line through your precious paragraphs. Facts! Backup your claims and you better reference them too.

What Are The Absolute NO-NOs of University (things that are bound to cause trouble later on)?

BSC – Don’t miss your tutorials or labs, be respectful of the teaching assistants they can be incredibly knowledgeable on how to survive your degree and achieve the best results.
BA – Explore your space and enjoy the experience, however, be sensible, work where work needs to be done. If you intend to experiment then do so in a safe space.
BAcc – Don’t neglect your studies, it will definitely come back to bite you and this particular dog is 150lb. hell-hound that will leave you with very little room to survive.

What Do You Wish You Did During Your University Experience

Two of these individuals said they wished they’d been more proactive and joined a club or society, participating in sports, debates and just experiencing moments with like-minded people.

Take advantage of the resources available to you, the library is incredible and most lecturers are excited to chat and be challenged by students.

What Degrees Do You Currently Possess And What Degrees Are You Busy With?

Richard Van Rensburg – BA (with distinction) in English and Psychology; BA Honours (with distinction) in Psychology; currently doing a MA in social and psychological research.
Darren MacDonald – BAccSci (with distinction): Bachelor of Accounting Science; BAccSci Honours; Currently busy with MA in Accountancy.
Bronwyn Barker – BSC in Biochemistry and Bioinformatics; Currently putting her degree to good use.

In closing, there is no set method for making it through this perilous journey. We are all faced with different challenges the best you can do is take it as it comes and find your own way. Good luck, have faith in yourself and be considerate of your peers.

Thanks to the above for answering my questions, Hopefully the advice will be put to good use.

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Thoughts?