UNIVERSITY FIRST YEAR



"Moving from grade 12 to university is a big step! Too many new challenges like meeting new people both good and bad.You get to the idea of being alone and you are faced with temptations, thinking of doing things that you were restricted not to do at home".
Mclean Ndlovu (2015 Matriculant, IT degree at Belgium campus)


 You’ll also have to adjust to a new culture, new people, you can feel lonely at first…

 Many students fail their first year because the challenges are too big...or they party too much !

At UJ, you'll be kick out in November if you pass less than 50 % of your modules.
But don't get depressed if you fail your first tests...Just keep up and know your goals !

So read these tips from our past St Mary's students from Alex, they might help you !

Get ready before you start University 

Practice your English : read books, Listen to movies ….Write emails to your mentors.
Improve your writing (note taking) and computer skills.

“The most challenging for us is our lack of self confidence. Our English is not good. At first, I did not dare to raise my hand to ask a question, as the other students’English was much better. Some teachers have a strong accent and you can’t understand them. So it is important to practice your English, because it is the only language at Varsity”, says past st Mary’s learner,  Hlulani Mukhari –  Bsc physical sciences (UJ)
"The challenges I had to overcome over the past two years were adjusting to new environments, managing my time, getting used to the type of standard of teaching and testing at the university, as well as handling stress and trauma (I was once mugged during my first year after writing a difficult test that I failed). Martin Mashotela (Wits)

Read all the info on your University website 
See what kind of help is available before your start your academic year (academic, psychological, financial support...for instance, some Varsities give vouchers to needy students to buy food or books). You can ask for a senior student to mentor you.

Don't be scared or ashamed to ask for help, if you need academic or social support

"After doing a physical sciences test, I was sure I failed and wanted to deregister the module. But actually my result was fine. So there are times when you just want to give up! My lecturer in physics gave me tips, like not to buy energy drinks. I got extra classes on Saturday and tutors. You have to ask for support to get it! . Hlulani Mukhari"

"Do not to give up! The university counsellors are your friends, your lecturers are your friends". Mclean Ndlovu  

Keep in touch with your mentor via Whastapp and email as he might also be of good advice (and sometimes, financial support).

 Andre van Zyl, director of the  academic development centre at UJ : “use the available support from the start and to ask for help sooner rather than later” At UJ, the Engineering and Sciences faculty have very good support structures in place

Wits : join the ".First in family programme”  ( learners who are the first one in their family to go to University). There  is a “also Peer Counselling service” to help your deal with personal problems such as relationship difficulties, anxiety, stress, depression, family issues and basic support (open from 8:15 to 16:30 weekdays. Counselling is free of charge (3 to 6 seesions) and confidential).

UJ and Wits have "early warning system" for struggling students (they are contacted in June).

Class are big and fast 

“In first year, I was in a class of 600 students which made it rather hard for me to engage with the lecturer. I put in practice the 5P's (Proper, Preparation, Prevents, Poor, Performance).Preparation helped me get to class on time, with prior knowledge and well informed to engage in the lesson".
Moyo Brilliant – Bachelor of accounting (UJ)

Brillant during his matric year with his sister and mum



"Make sure you have a year planner, a diary to help you go through your tough times". McLean

Keep motivated, even if you fail your first exams

 “If you fail a few tests,  the key is to keep on trying your very best as well as asking for help”, says Andre van Zyl

" It's really hard to find motivation if you cling on to your previous downfalls as most people did" Moyo Brilliant – Bachelor of accounting (UJ)

"At Wits,  if you fail 2 half year courses and a full year course you get kicked out. The first semester was tough. You must get used to the new environment. You must be much disciplined !" Martin Mashatola - Bcom Information Systems at Wits 

Avoid plagerism : you are not supposed to copy your assignment from Internet..this is cheating. You can be dismissed from Varsity it you do it.

Study Skills are the key to success 
You'll have to digest larger amounts of information at a quicker pace than in high school. You need to improve your reading and study skills. You have to learn how to argue, how to think critically...

The tests are very different from those in high schools – you need to think abstract !

Find a balance between your large workload and your social life. Study hard, as almost one third of the students fail their first year (and lose their bursaries, if they’ve got one) 
“At residences, there are parties every weekend and they want you to join. There are a lot of temptations". Hlulani Mukhari

 Try to do an internship or job shadowing during your holiday in your field of study : it’s good for your CV and will help you to build contacts
https://www.wits.ac.za/ccdu/academic-skills/




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