8 steps to succeed at university

Attending University or college is a big adjustment. With all the fun and freedom comes a lot of responsibility and pressure.  Follow these steps to finding your balance and preparing for the academic challenges. 

1. Go to class and be prepared
You will probably receive a study guide with important dates, content that will be covered, learning outcomes and suggested reading. If you don’t receive this as a hard copy they might have an online course calendar. Use this to draw up a schedule and plan out your weeks. Going to class prepared gives you the advantage of thinking critically about the information and asking the questions you might have.

2. Be organised and take responsibility
Don’t miss deadlines because you didn’t plan ahead. Your lecturer will most probably not follow up on you individually if you don’t submit assignments or miss tests. It will be your responsibility to use a day planner and to keep track of important dates. 

3. Ask questions and participate in class discussions
If you do not feel comfortable to ask questions in front of other students, make sure to e-mail your lecturer or ask the teaching assistant. Do not fall behind because you don’t understand some of the work. Lecturers and teaching assistants have consultation hours in which you can make individual appointments. Keep in mind that if you do not ask your questions in class, you need to take additional time from your schedule to ask the questions and get the answers.

4. Manage your time

  • Use your time between classes to catch up on required reading, studying or visits to the library. 
  • Meeting with fellow students in study groups could be very productive and help you identify gaps in your knowledge or clarify some of the concepts you were unsure of.
  • Don’t procrastinate.

5. Become computer literate
Since you might be required to type some assignments, submit things electronically, communicate via e-mail, view online course calendars and study guides, it will save you a lot of time to become familiar with a computer as soon as possible. Most universities have computer laboratories where students can go onto the intranet, the internet and complete assignments. Make use of the support staff in the labs to help yourself become familiar with the things you need to do.

6. Do your own work
When you do assignments it must always be your own authentic work. If you use someone else’s ideas you need to reference them properly. Your library could help familiarise you with the referencing style your university prefer. Don’t every copy from the internet or cheat, disciplinary steps for plagiarism could be followed against you.

7. Know your strengths and areas of growth
Know what you are good with and make use of these skills to help you overcome your areas of growth. These would be skills that you can bring to group work or volunteer in other areas of campus life that you would like to get involved in.

8. Warm up your brain before a test with these exercises

Sometimes, however, you will need to move out of your comfort zone and ask for help, try out something new, leverage and learn from someone that knows how to do something, in order to improve yourself and become successful in your studies.

If you are not ready to study something specific, you might want to read about taking a gap year