Dear first year students, here's what to expect at university - Seniors give advice to newcomers

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Senior students give advise to first-year students.
Senior students give advise to first-year students.
Ryan McVay

Results are out and thousands of young, fresh students are now getting ready to enter the higher education space. 

They have just survived 12 years of primary and high school and as they prepare for tertiary education, they are excited about the freedom, independence, parties and lecture halls.

But it's better to go in prepared. 

Drum asked senior students around the country to give advice to the incoming learners. 

Read more | Gauteng High Court rules that matric results should be published

graduates, senior students, first year, university
Hlumelo Fumba, 3rd year Bachelor of Environmental Science - Nelson Mandela University.

"I wish I knew how much I would have to hold myself accountable and truly be responsible for myself," Hlumelo Fumba, third year Bachelor of Environmental Science student at Nelson Mandela University, says.

"I was in boarding school before going to varsity and we had compulsory study times, a fixed bedtime, and a lot of rules that controlled our lives so with the newfound freedom in varsity I had to learn how to manage my time and be organized on my own.

"It is crucial to learn to manage your finances too, especially if you’re going to be living in a self-catering resident. Have fun and enjoy your time at varsity but don’t forget that your priority is to get your qualification, so make sure that you put that before going out and having a good time," she says.

"It's okay to change courses; I changed courses after my first year at varsity because the course I got in for wasn’t the course that I wanted to do initially so after my first year of study I decided to change to a course that would be more suited to me and the career path I want to pursue. It was a very easy process and I’m so glad that I made that decision."

"I wish I knew how much I would have to hold myself accountable and truly be responsible for myself."

graduates, senior students, first year, university
Aviwe Sinuka, 2nd year Bachelor of Social Science - University of Cape Town.

Aviwe Sinuka, second year Bachelor of  Social Science student at the University of Cape Town says he wishes he'd know just how much independence he would have.

"I wish someone had told me that when you get to varsity you are on your own, your lectures will not push you to do your schoolwork so you have to discipline yourself and have some time management skills.

"There are a lot of parties and as much as you might want to unwind but remember you are there to study. Do not let friends lead you astray," he says.

"University for me has been a struggle, I have been in the rural areas all my life. I struggled to type long essays because I have never used a computer before. It was also a challenge to keep up with the lectures because I have been taught in my home language all my life, so I found some accents hard to understand."

It wasn't easy. 

"Adapting to the new environment where there are no parents or someone to tell you what to do or how to do it has not been easy, but I have been determined to achieve what I came for which is something any student has to always keep in mind."

graduates, senior students, first year, university
Nthabiseng Kgasi, Monash South Africa graduate, Marketer at MTN South Africa.

Recent Monash South Africa graduate Nthabiseng Kgasi tells us what she experienced. She's currently a marketer at MTN South Africa.

Knowing and understanding yourself as well as your background is crucial in such instances, she says.

"Transitioning from a government school to a private university was a challenge. Financially, the gap between the low class, middle and high class was very evident. One of the most important things that I think students will experience is the different backgrounds that we all come from and it's important to know and understand where you are coming from. Students tend to lose themselves by trying to be someone that they are not.

"Ensure that you can stand your ground regardless of the peer pressure that comes but be open to learning, be open to meeting different people, be open to change, be open to understanding new ways of learning, be open to criticism, and overall be present to the moment because it flies by in a blink of an eye," she says.

"You will have the time of your life but do not allow the parties to take over your life and the core purpose of you being at university. I stayed at home and traveled to and from home, so I did not party a lot but it's something I wish I experienced. Staying by yourself builds independence and character."

Nthabiseng graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Social Science in Marketing and Communication and Honours in Communication and Media Studies and was fortunate to have the job aligned with what she studies. But she says, "Knowing what I know now, I would have studied medicine too.

"Technology is improving and social media is taking over, so the ways of marketing have improved, any and everybody has the opportunity to become a marketer but qualifying does support the experience. If I knew what I know now I would have studied medicine but I do enjoy my career path, it speaks to what I believe my core purpose in life is."

"Know and understand yourself, as well as your background."

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