5 tips for new university and college students

5 tips for new university and college students

We are approaching that time of year when students across the globe are deciding where they are going to go for university or college, and ultimately the direction they are headed towards for the rest of their lives. While higher education can be an exciting time for anyone, it is important to understand that in order to be successful, you must be prepared. While there are some basic similarities between high school and university, the post-secondary environment can be challenging at first. To be ready for these big changes in your life, ApplyBoard has prepared five pieces of advice for you before you head off to university or college.


1. Consider the employability of your education

ApplyBoard - Consider the employability of your education

Before you choose a program or major, it is crucial to consider the employability of what you will be studying. While it’s important to take into account your passions and interests, it is perhaps more essential that you study with a focus on how your education will be relevant to your environment and career as a whole. Your education is your opportunity to make yourself marketable and desirable for employers. Conduct some exploratory research on the requirements of your future career as well as the state of the current labour market. This will give you a sense of whether or not you want to pursue your current path of study or go another route to be more successful.

You should also consider taking a minor or a concentration of courses related or unrelated to your field. Each discipline has its own set of skills that you can transfer and benefit greatly in your future occupation. For example, a student who majors in mathematics, accustomed to logical problem solving, could perhaps see things differently if they were to minor in contemporary dance – a field that emphasises creativity. Similarly, if a mathematics major were to study physics as well, they could have a better sense of applying math to real world situations. Both pathways make you unique and if argued correctly, could help support your case in being hired after an interview.


2. Gain as much experience as possible in your field

ApplyBoard - Gain as much experience as possible in your field

A common issue among post-secondary students is the lack of experience coming out of graduation. Field-related experience will help you land your first post-graduate job, and without it, you will be posing fewer advantages to your potential employer. To help avoid this issue, we recommend that you seek to gain experience – unpaid or paid – directly related to your field of study. Look into the internship program at your school and understand how it works, or see if there are volunteer positions in your community. If possible, you can always defer graduation by one or two terms to make sure you gain relevant work experience before you commence your job search. If you cannot find anything available that fits your needs, you can always start your own business. Create your own experience and impact your community around you while exploring your potential as a professional. In addition to internships and entrepreneurship, you can also join clubs that can support you in taking the next steps for your future career. For example, a biology society may help you study for the MCAT if you want to become a doctor. Any and all experience goes a long way in differentiating yourself from other candidates.


3. Manage your workload

ApplyBoard - Manage your workload

One reason why students find university and college life challenging is because they fail to balance their social and academic lives. Many tend to commit to more activities than they can handle and as a result, become overly stressed and unable to manage their schedule. We recommend that before you plan your courses, consider how heavy each course load is, and evaluate your options to make your academics easier on yourself. For example, many universities offer limited courses during the summer that are equally valid for your program requirements. Taking courses during the summer can free up some time in your schedule, allowing you to have more opportunities to enjoy the city, meet new friends or just be successful in the classes you currently have.

You may notice that your timetables for separate courses have the same due dates for major assignments or exams. When this happens, plan out a detailed schedule or calendar for the entire semester, taking into consideration all your major tasks in each course so you can plan and study as you go along. When you map out all that is required for the entire semester, you can optimise your time avoid missing important deadlines. Furthermore, if you are able to plan your days week by week, you can set intervals for fun, studying, eating and most importantly, SLEEP!


4. Consult your academic advisor

ApplyBoard - Consult your academic advisor

Before you even select your post-secondary courses, you should consult with your academic advisor and tell them about your future plans, whether they include the world of work, graduate school or even just taking on a minor. Academic advisors are there to help you clarify the potentially confusing selection system that each university and college has in place, and they can also tell you whether or not your courses can count towards the required or elective parts of your degree. You do not want to select a course that will not count towards your major or minor or help you in any way. Most academic advisors are available by appointment when you arrive on campus, but you can also email them before you register with your school.


5. Ask for help when necessary

ApplyBoard - Ask for help when necessary

While there are a few students that go through their entire educational career without asking for help, chances are, you will probably need assistance in understanding the content or challenges within your courses. All professors have designated office hours in which you can visit and ask them any questions you have about what you are studying. They are also there to give you advice on what you can do with your degree and what opportunities exist for you to advance yourself further. Professors and other officials are there to support you in your studies in any way they can. Consulting with your professor outside of class time can make the difference between a mediocre grade and an A+.

The road ahead is bright and promising! Although it may be daunting to immerse yourself in a completely different environment, don’t sweat it – you will be okay! Many graduates say that their post-secondary educational experience was the best time of their life. Make the most of your education and be the best person you can be because of it.


Still nervous about your upcoming school year? ApplyBoard is here to help! If you have any questions about student life, the visa process, or program details, please email studentadvisor1@applyboard.com and we can assist you as best we can. If you are looking to still apply to university or college, look at our FAQ!


Dawson Phan, Marketing Assistant at ApplyBoard

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