Course plan, check. Timetable, check. Textbooks, check. By the end of Orientation you’ve probably got everything sorted for your first week as a University student, but here’ s a spot of advice to equip you mentally for the upcoming semester.
Take time to actually think before you sign up for any clubs and societies, and refrain from absent-mindedly scribbling your name at the bottom of every activity that looks ‘cool’. You might have a boatload of free time right now but when it comes to weeks eight and nine of the semester (aka assignment death weeks) you will be stressed to the max and completely overwhelmed with trying to fulfil all those commitments you made earlier. So instead, engage yourself in clubs and societies that interest and intrigue you, do not just agree to something just because you had said to yourself “it looks good on my resume”.
Drop in, not drop-out.
If your degree grants you the freedom to take electives from other Faculties, do so! Do a Steve Jobs, and drop in on a class that’s different and fascinating to you, who knows it might just come in handy when you start to build your billion-dollar company in your parent’s garage (but don’t do a Jobs and drop-out).
All-nighters are practically a rite of passage in University. The great thing is, you don’t have to actively plan to achieve an all-nighter. It’s actually quite fascinating, all-nighters appear to universally plague all college students! They sort of just creep up on on you a couple of days before the deadline, and then force themselves on to your consciousness, all while switching off the process in your body that forces you to sleep. It’s magical. But you’re a freshman, so take it easy on the all-nighters, and SLEEP. Yes, that’s right, it’s been purposely capitalised and printed in bold. Sleep deprivation leads to a wrath of ill-desired side-effects, and no one wants to be around someone who’s as cranky as Dr. House.
Stress, (in) check.
Chronic stress can hinder the part of your brain that helps you learn, and since university is primarily about learning, be sure to keep your stress levels in the healthy range. There’s a difference between good stress and bad stress, experience the difference!
The semester is only twelve weeks short, and at least three of those weeks are deemed Hell Weeks because you will be completely drowned in assignments and presentations. You start to get this ominous feeling that university professors sit around in a circle and conspire to place major deadlines all on the same week, just to reap some perverse pleasure from watching us all writhe in procrastination-induced guilt. So to avoid such paranoia (psychosis), do plan ahead, and keep improving your time-management skills.
Be active, and get involved! Make time to attend any MUSA events you fancy, it will help you meet new people and you’ll definitely make some friends outside your Faculty. But don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re here in University to get a degree (or two), which means ample time should be devoted to your course work and getting to know the professors.
Freshie, I hereby leave you with a college quandary that has plagued college students since time immemorial:
“Social life, good grades, and sleep. You can only pick two.”