19 Apr 2013

Survival Guide for Freshmen

University – the best years of your life. For those fresh out of Junior College, this is your first step into adulthood and preparation for the real working world. Yet, the thought of navigating your first semester on campus can be extremely daunting, especially when you are plunged into a foreign environment with thousands of others. Don’t worry, we have broken it all down for you - here is your step-by-step guide to surviving university.

1. Join an orientation camp

University is no Junior College; everything is bigger, be it the campus or cohort. In order to ensure that you don’t spend your first week of school getting lost, get orientated (pardon the pun) by participating in an orientation camp! Senior students run the show so not only will they highlight essential areas like the library during the campus tour; you will be shown the other important places, for instance where the best food can be found and where the cool kids hang out.

This is also an opportunity to bond with your fellow freshmen, especially if you don’t know anyone else taking the same course. With ready-made pals who may face the same uncertainties about university life as you, you get rid of some of the back-to-school jitters and find support in them. Get familiar with your seniors too. They are a gold mine when it comes to information like which modules to take and avoid, and how to get the most out of your freshmen year.

2. Strategise your timetable

This is a whole different ball game from Junior College. Here, there is no fixed class timetable – you are able to pack all your lectures and tutorials into a three-day week or for those who prefer, spread out their time equally with time to spare. Plus, some may choose to take on more modules than the average student to accelerate their degree.

Before you even look at what classes are offered in the semester, check to see which modules are requisites for your course – this is to avoid the case in which you are all ready to graduate in your final year to only realise that you have not taken this foundation module that is only offered in the first semester. Also, this is where your seniors’ advice will come in useful; they will be able to tell you who are the more popular lecturers and offer tips on how to secure the modules you want.

3. Go to all your classes

It may sound like a no-brainer, especially if class attendance makes up a portion of your grade. Sometimes skipping an 8am lecture with a professor that drones on and on is tempting, and if the lecture video is uploaded online – you have more reason to just go back to sleep. Well, by attending class, you will be able to suss out your fellow module mates – this will prove useful when it’s time to look for project mates or seek help on a tough tutorial assignment.

4. Be part of a club/sport

Why join an extra-curriculum activity when it’s not compulsory? Good question. For starters, you will be able to extend your social network beyond your faculty and comfort zone, and your involvement as chairperson of the Social Welfare club will look pretty good on your resume and help you stand out amongst the rest when looking for a job. While you can pick up valuable life skills through organising events or inter-school friendly games, like project management and event planning, you will also be able to apply what you learnt in school, for instance, use your accounting knowledge when taking on the role of a treasurer.

5. Dress up

There is a certain liberation that comes with tossing away your Junior College uniform and being able to wear anything you want to school. But that doesn’t give you the excuse to look like you have rolled out from bed in micro-mini shorts, even if you have. In the same way you will realise how huge a part your appearance plays in making good first impressions when you start working, it’s important to look generally neat. Not dressing like a slob is also a form of respect for both your lecturers and fellow students. As a rule of thumb, you should wear nothing too revealing (something the average parent would approve of) or offensive (logo tees with vulgar words) but always check with the student conduct handbook. Plus, you never know who you might meet on campus – your future boss or spouse – definitely an incentive to look decent at school!

Contributed by JobsCentral Pte Ltd