Before Day 1
Are you looking forward to the first day of your university life? Or are you actually anxious about it and don’t know what to expect? At the threshold in your life when you are about to start your university education, you may be like a person about to dive in a river that you want to swim across: you don’t know how deep the water is and how well you can manage the currents. Digital Senior, being a senior, has gone through the water and knows the challenges and obstacles along the way. Take a deep breath before your journey starts and listen to some of the advice on how to prepare yourself before the Day 1 arrives.
Get your mind ready
First, you need to be mentally prepared. Mental preparation can be broadly categorized into two parts: preparation for a different lifestyle and preparation for a different learning environment. The first impression that you may have when you enter a university is “freedom”. You suddenly have so much time for yourself and so much control over your own life. You are treated as a full adult. If you decide to stay in a residential hall, which most of the freshmen would choose, you will be living away from your parents. An independent lifestyle entails certain challenges, down to very little things such as dealing with your roommate’s different sleeping hour. A residential living environment is different from your home where your parents are accommodating. Living with your peers, you have to tolerate differences and exercise respect. Trust me, by being nice and helpful, you will be rewarded with great friendship.
Moreover, you also need to be mentally prepared for the academic challenges ahead. The education in university is module-based, meaning that once you finish a module for one semester, you move on to a new one. There is little time for you to take months to catch up, something you could still afford to do in your JC or Poly where subjects could be taught over one year and more. And student composition may also be more diverse than your previous school. If you are coming from a Poly, you may see some students from JC who are particularly good at theoretical parts of a module. If you graduate from a JC, you may run into former Poly students who know more about the course than you do because they may have been taking some similar modules a few years back. Lastly, you will meet many more international students coming from a variety of countries around the world. They also increase the competitiveness of the environment. But you don’t have to treat them as competitors. University education encourages collaboration, as you will be doing many project works. So consider them as your allies who work together and excel together.
Get your stuff ready
Now that you have known the importance of mental preparation, let us talk about “material preparation”. What should you buy in order for you to have a smooth transition into university? If you decide to stay in halls, basic stuff such as mattress and pillows are provided. You may want to bring your own blankets in case the air-conditioner makes your room too cold at night. You don’t have to buy too many clothes, as you will get plenty of them, sometimes for free, as you go through various activities and clubs as a freshman. Buying a few school T-shirts may be a good idea to boost your sense of belonging. And before I forget, perhaps it is also a good idea to buy a formal suit in case you go for formal occasions such as interviews or networking sessions.
If you think the above paragraph may be more interesting to your mom, now Digital Senior would like to talk about things that are of greater interest to you. Most students want to change their electronic devices, particularly laptops, as they start their university. It is important that yoru laptop functions well, as you will have a tough time doing assignments or projects on a laptop that often hangs (even without giving you the chance to click on the “save” button for a 3-thousand word essay you are writing on). In fact, universities in Singapore all have “matriculation fair”, where you can buy laptops and other electronic devices at a lower-than-market rate. It is a special privilege for freshmen! Moreover, you may also be wondering about buying textbooks. The truth in university is that unless it is compulsory, most students prefer not to buy brand-new textbooks that are often expensive. University libraries have reserve sections where they reserve popular textbooks for students to read without borrowing. If you really want to own a textbook that you can carry with you, start to follow some second-hand book website or phone applications such as the Carousell where seniors are selling used books to juniors. Start to search for books early, as they are sold out very quickly once course registration period has concluded.
There is only so much that you can prepare for your university life. In fact, it may be too ambitious to say that you can prepare for the next four years of your life within just a few months. What you want to make sure is that you start your university on a right note. Don’t over-prepare and embrace the unexpected. That makes life more fun, doesn’t it?