5 ways to cope with the transition from college to university
During high school, we’re told to prepare ourselves for university but we are rarely told how to prepare for college, which can make the transition to university overwhelming.
If you're trying to prepare yourself for the transition to university, here's five tips that will help you to survive your first year at uni.
1. Be sociable
This is arguably one of the most difficult things to do, especially if you’re unfamiliar with those around you—but believe it or not, this can be key to enjoying university and coping with all the changes you’re about to face. So how can you do this? Start talking to people in your class—even if it’s a simple hello. Ask them how they are and talk to them in the group chat if you have one. The more you do this, the more comfortable you will feel. Chances are you will have to do group work at some point and if you rarely speak to your classmates, it can make you feel uncomfortable and trust me, you won’t enjoy any of it.
Follow your university and the SU on social media so you can keep an eye out for events. Go to Freshers’ Week and enjoy it all—and don’t forget to grab that free slice of pizza!
If there are any forums, ask if anyone will be in the same course or accommodation, this means that you can get to know them before you start university. Don’t forget everyone is in the same boat as you.
2. Make your new home actually feel like home
For some, this transition can prove harder if they’re away from home. So what can you do to combat homesickness at university?
Take things you love and decorate your room with them. Got a poster? Put it up! Love vinyl? Take that record player with you and unwind listening to your favourite artists—just don’t sing too loud, yeah? Oh, and feel free to paint your room too—only if you’re allowed of course!
If you’re into painting, writing or photography, go outside and take inspiration from your local surroundings. Start a blog or Instagram dedicated to your chosen passion—this will make your time away from home much more enjoyable.
But whatever you do, try and avoid staying in your room. Pop to the kitchen for five minutes, grab a cuppa and interact with everyone. Keep doing this until you come around to the idea of staying and holding a conversation.
As a direct entrant, getting to know everyone when they’ve known each other for a few years will prove hard but bear in mind they too were strangers once.
3. Stay motivated
Some students will literally do anything to avoid listening to a lecture—including online shopping and looking at photos of dogs—but whilst some lectures can be boring, they can also be very interesting, so turn up to every class and take notes. Make sure you start as early as possible and try to set yourself targets to complete certain pieces of work by. Reward yourself after each major goal by having a cinema trip or taking a day off to do absolutely nothing.
If you still feel like you’re completely unmotivated with a fast-approaching deadline, get a study group together by booking a room at your university, in the library or by meeting up at your local coffee shop. Ask people to look over your work as often a second pair of eyes can help spot mistakes—especially when it comes to referencing. Just because a certain technique will work for several people, doesn’t mean it will work for you, find your balance and stick to it.
Start talking and stepping outside your comfort zone—this is coming from someone who read this advice, laughed and didn’t take it…and shock horror later regretted it. If you’re always in your comfort zone you’ll never learn anything new and it won’t look good to employers. Keep challenging yourself and you’ll become more comfortable and confident not only in your work but yourself.
You’re at university to learn or else we would all have jobs after high school. There will always be people both in education and at work who are better than you but remember to others, you will be that person.
4. Improve your CV
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Get involved in societies, but don’t join just because it will look good on your CV, do it because you’re passionate about it and if there’s nothing you like, start your own.
This can help with a variety of things and not just career opportunities. You will meet new people, make new friends and learn about them and where they come from.
5. There’s always someone to talk to
If you’re assigned a personal tutor, they can really help you with the transition to university life. Set up a meeting, ask questions, get help and don’t be afraid to tell them if you’re struggling—after all that’s why they’re there.
Unlike high school and college, you don’t get as much help as you would have thought. Lecturers will hand you the work, tell you a little bit about it and send you off to the point where you’ll email them approximately 20 times about one question alone.
Mental health is so important and as we’re all aware, many people will face challenges that can really impact their state of mind, therefore affecting their work and friendships. It’s easy to say ‘relax and don’t stress’ or some other common phrase we’re all told when things get a bit too much, but the transition to university can be challenging and some people will understand what it’s like so you’re not alone.
The worst thing you can do is isolate yourself, so do as above and socialise, say hi and ask people how they are—you never know, you may end up meeting a life-long friend.