Students must understand, handle new challenges

2018-01-31 06:02
Dr Gillian Mooney, dean of Academic Development and Support at the Independent Institute of Education (IIE).Photo: Supplied

Dr Gillian Mooney, dean of Academic Development and Support at the Independent Institute of Education (IIE).Photo: Supplied

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“New students need to understand the challenges that will come their way, and how to handle them.

“The demands of school and the demands of higher education are worlds apart.”

This warning was issued by Dr Gillian Mooney, dean of Academic Development and Support at the Indepen­dent Institute of Education (IIE), in time for the reopening of universities this week.

She reminded learners who managed to excel at school without too much effort that “winging it” is no longer an option.

As thousands of first year students descend on universities, they are urged to embrace the excitement and opportunity – but also to ensure they start off on the right track. In this way, they can make a success of their studies right from the start.

Being regarded as South Africa’s largest private higher education provider, t“Some people managed to attain good marks at school with very little work, but this will not be possible at university,” Mooney highlighted in a press release through Meropa Communications.

“There is a big jump from high school to university in terms of the volume and complexity of the work, and the expectations on students are high.

“There is simply no substitute for long hours spent in the library.”

Tshidi Mathibe, IIE head of programme for the Faculty of Commerce, also pointed out that higher education is actually unlike anything that is seen on television and in films.

“Yet, while this new world can be intimida­ting, there are a few things you can almost certainly expect.

“Being prepared to respond to these in an informed and mature manner will dramatically increase your chances of success,” said Mathibe.

Mathibe gave a few tips that first year students should take note of:

  • It is important to attend orientation week.

This is typically held a week before classes start. It is not compulsory to attend orientation, but it is a great chance to meet new people, obtain information about your campus and all the activities offered, and just have some fun.

  • Every new student is just as an­xious as you are to make friends. This is an opportunity for you to have new experiences and broaden your frame of reference.
  • Make a friend in every class in order to have someone to discuss the course material with.

It is also handy to have someone to take notes for you if you have to miss a class.

  • Understand the difference between lectures and tutorials.

Lectures are generally large classes, often with hundreds of people in large venues, particularly if you are attending a public university.

Tutorials, however, are generally smaller classes. Students often feel less intimidated in tutorials, which gives them a good opportunity to ask questions and make new friends.

  • You may feel anonymous.

Remember that classes are generally too large for the lecturer to know you personally. Ensure that you get to know your student number by heart, as this is the way you will be identified.

The most important thing to remember as you enter higher education is that there will be no spoon-feeding. You are now in charge of your own learning. If you miss a lecture, or do not submit an assignment, no one will care.

  • Finally, do not be afraid to ask for help. A good higher education institution will always have support structures in place, such as student guidance and career centres.

Make use of these support structures, as they will have trained and experienced counsellors to guide you and help you make a success of your studies.


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