First year is daunting for pretty much any first year student. University is the start of a new chapter in your life, in a completely different environment from high school, and if you’re not properly prepared you may find it to be quite a struggle. Luckily, there are those that have gone through it before you and are willing to give some friendly advice. Perdeby asked a few senior students what they wished they had known when they were in first year:
Subhan Shah: Computer Engineering
The thing I wish I knew in first year was that there’s no time to catch up. You always have to be up to date with your work. Always attend lectures and keep [up] with what the lecturer says in class. And don’t be easily influenced by people who are studying with you. Be your own person, make your own decisions.
Karabo Langa: BCom Investment management
I wish they had mentioned how much time you have to put into it, because I feel like it’s not really about how smart you are, it’s more about how much effort you put in. So, I feel like they should have mentioned that you have to put in a consistent amount of time every day. I think that it is mentioned, but maybe it just needs to be […] emphasised.
Petrus Alberts: Industrial Engineering Everyone told me that you only [aim for] 50% in university and if you get more than 50% you’re really smart, but I think that whole idea is wrong. If you’re in grade four, people told me grade five is really difficult. It’s exactly the same as in university. There’s a difference between matric and first year, but it’s exactly the same difference as grade four and grade five. If you’re going to get fifties in first year and think you’re smart and then wonder why second year is difficult, then you realise it’s because you only understand 50 % of the first year work, so you’re obviously going to have to work three times harder. So, no, it’s not so difficult to get an eighty and if you got eighties in school you should get eighties in uni.
Andy Masenga: Industrial Engineering
What I wish I had known from first year is the support systems that the university has in terms of study skills and all those things. When I attended those things recently I realised that it’s actually very helpful. If I had known such things existed then, it would have been very helpful. Even the support, not only for academics, but the counselling that the university offers, I think that was very helpful for me.
Masego Maraba: BA Law
I wish someone had told me that […] I’m in this alone, no one is there to hold my hand anymore, this is not matric. I wish someone had told me not to do it. Just don’t do varsity. If you’re not really prepared don’t do it at all. The amount of work is a lot. It’s like triple what we had in matric. And I wish people had told me who to hang out with and who not to hang out with.
Matsatsi Rasekgololo: BCom Accounting Sciences
Sitting on the grass and enjoying yourself is a lie. Your life should be the library. If you enter those doors your life will be nice. […] Whether you’re passing or failing, mental health is important. Take a break and breathe. It’s not your fault if you’re failing. You tried and if you failed, you tried and it didn’t work out. Try again next time.
Edwina Mathobela: BCom Accounting Science
What I wish I knew is that life on campus is not always like what they projected on the prospectus. You don’t always get to sit on the grass and chill with your friends all the time. You have a choice of not going to class and going out every night, but that’s definitely to your detriment. I wish I knew that. I wish I knew how to balance my life. In my first year I had a hard time doing that.
Annie Langa: BCom Marketing
I wish I had known about the second floor at the library, where there’re couches and coffee. I would have studied a lot harder had I known that.
Karla Boja: BCom Marketing
Firstly, I wish someone had told me that you must appreciate your family in first year, because I feel like in first year you’re like “No dad, leave me alone”, and then comes the work, you don’t see your family, except for like once a year. So, I think you should not underestimate or ignore your family and really good friends. So, don’t forget about your family. Secondly, although you should pay attention to your marks, don’t think that marks are everything. You’re not in matric anymore, it’s more about being practical and thinking outside the box than memorising books. If you’re an international student just have fun and don’t get overwhelmed by all the languages, it’s super cool. First years, please stop wearing booty shorts. This is not a beach, it’s not a holiday, it’s first year university. Thank you.
Amelia van Schalkwyk: BCom Marketing
I wish I knew that a 50 was okay. You don’t have to get eighties and nineties. A 50 is fine. A 51 and you studied one percent too hard.
Navisha Naidoo: BCom Marketing
I wish somebody told me not to party too hard. I think if you fail a subject in first year it actually impacts your second and third year. So, definitely think about that in first year. I think when you’re in first year you may feel overwhelmed, but don’t ever underestimate yourself. I promise you, you can push yourself to do the best. Don’t get overwhelmed with the 20 subjects you do in first semester.
Motheo Petje: BCom Finance
I think there’s a beauty in not knowing anything at first, because it’s a learning process, you learn as you go and that just makes it more authentic at the end of the day. That’s just my opinion.