Katlego Diphare
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University is known to be the best years of our lives. Some students had some experiences in high school or during their gap year(s) that equipped them with the necessary tools to calmly deal with situations that they come across. But the dark side of university is intense, and even if new students are aware of these struggles, when they experience it for themselves, they tend to be just as confused and hopeless as if they had never known it was coming.

Students come to university for success, for freedom, to try their first experiences away from home and the shelter of their upbringing. However, in the process, some students get lost and do not return home with what they desired.

The purpose of university is to help students succeed in their pursuit of a qualification, but with it comes the burden of assignments, tests and exams, which can quickly become overwhelming. Soon enough, it can lead to students overextending themselves so much that they feel like they are giving 100% just to cover a 40% exam entrance.

If you are lucky enough to have chosen a course that you thoroughly enjoy, then all the hard work, sleepless nights, early mornings and tiring modules are a burden that contributes to your overall happiness. But if you, like so many students, do not enjoy your course, these responsibilities also come with a deeper exhaustion and dissatisfaction because you still have to pass. This can lead to depression, loneliness and anxiety have to pass. This can lead to depression, loneliness and anxiety behind closed doors. In this situation, you can seek counsel from your Faculty Student Advisors (FSAs), who are there to help guide your academic path and offer advice about module changes and degree structuring.

University is the big wake-up call for students to prepare for a career and the future. Finances become a stressful factor, as students attempt to save as much as possible, while feeling compelled to spend all their money to keep up with a financially- demanding student lifestyle. Fortunately, UP helps students locate and apply for jobs through the career portal. Additionally, the UP campus is partially staffed by students to help build their CVs and skills, and students can work, for example, in the libraries and study centres, as well as at the student radio station (Tuks FM) and the student newspaper (PDBY).

Moving out of your parents’ home is appealing; however, living alone means dealing with any unexpected changes on your own. How will you handle any nasty surprises? When you have to leave university because NSFAS decided to cut your funding, or when you have passed the year but cannot go home until you have paid the outstanding fees not covered by NSFAS? Do you have a backup plan to ensure that you do not lose yourself and your career to the dark side of university? Students are advised to apply for the university’s financial aid and to keep on the lookout for bursaries to sustain the high costs of university.