Before Day 1
Are you looking forward to the first day of your university life? Or are you anxious and unsure what to expect? As the “final boss” of your schooling life approaches, you may feel like a person about to dive into a wide river: you don’t know how deep the water is and how well you can manage the current.
Well, we at Digital Senior have made it across—and we know the challenges and obstacles you’ll face along the way. Take a deep breath before your journey starts and let us share some advice on how to prepare yourself before day one 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 freshmen would choose, you will be living away from your parents and their watchful eyes.
An independent lifestyle entails certain challenges, down to very little things such as dealing with your roommate’s different sleeping hours. A residential living environment is highly collaborative and very much different from your home, where your parents are accommodating and used to your quirks. When living with your peers, you have to tolerate differences and exercise respect. You’ll also need to be ready to have (potentially) difficult conversations if all parties cannot come to a consensus on room rules or certain behaviours. Trust me though, by being nice and helpful, you will be rewarded with great friendships.
Moreover, you also need to mentally prepare for the academic challenges ahead. University education is module-based, meaning that once you finish modules for one semester, you move on to new ones covering different topics. You no longer have months to catch up, something you could still afford to do in 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 meet JC students who are particularly good at theoretical parts of a module. If you graduated from a JC, you may run into former Poly students who are two steps ahead because of relevant poly modules. Lastly, you will meet many international students from around the world. You will feel pressured by all the brilliant minds surrounding you, but you don’t have to treat your peers 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. Consider being the one to take the first step by organising a study group. You can make use of a team charter to ensure that everyone pulls their weight.
Get your stuff ready
Now that you have known the importance of mental preparation, let us talk about “material preparation”. What should you buy for you to have a smooth transition into university? If you decide to stay in the halls, basic stuff such as a 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, it’s a good idea to keep a formal suit/dress on standby 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, let’s talk about things that are of greater interest to you. Most students want to change their electronic devices, particularly laptops, as they start university. Your laptop must function 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, you can buy laptops and other electronic devices at a lower-than-market rate through many PC providers sites.
You may also be wondering about textbooks. The truth is that, in university, most students prefer not to buy brand-new textbooks unless it is compulsory. They 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 following some second-hand book websites or phone applications such as Carousell where seniors are selling used books to juniors. Start searching for books early, as they sell out quickly once the course registration period has concluded.
Book Depository may be your best bet if your major is literature. Just remember to place your orders early so that they’ll come in time!
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 the right note. Don’t over-prepare and embrace the unexpected. That makes life more fun, doesn’t it?