So, you've been accepted on to a university program, and it will be starting soon. Other than celebrating your acceptance with friends, what else should you be doing to get ready for your new course? Here are some suggestions for how to most efficiently use your holiday break time to prepare for attending college.
1. Track down your course info
It's probably been a while since you looked at the catalogue of teaching courses which are required for your degree, and since you checked the details of what will be taught. So start off by using your university's website to look up all of the information you can find about your degree and the courses you will study. If possible, find yourself a timetable for the first semester so you have some idea when and where your teaching sessions will be held. Check how many units you will need to take each semester, and whether there are any extra requirements such as seminars that you need to attend or projects that you need to complete.
2. Get organised early
Now that you know what courses you will be taking, it's time to get organised. Doing a little bit of work now can make your life much easier once you start the semester and are busy all the time! Start by considering how you like to take notes. Do you prefer to scribble down rough outlines, then copy these into full notes later on? Or do you prefer to write notes during class which you can use directly for revising? Decide if you'd rather have a single notebook to keep all your notes in one place, or whether you want a separate notebook for each class. Then it's time to collect all the stationary you need, such as binders, notebooks, pens, and so on. One tip to make your notes more organised is to colour-code binders or notebooks for each course, so you can find the material you're looking for quickly.
3. Do some preparatory reading
It's helpful to do some reading before you start your courses. However, don't worry about reading the course textbooks yet! You don't need to become an expert in a subject before you start studying it. Instead, look for general introductions to your subject, or popular texts which are aimed at the general public – for example, the “Very Short Introductions” books are accessible and easy to read. In some course outlines, you'll find section for supplementary or preparatory reading lists which are a good place to find recommended books. Also, read magazines and newspapers to broaden your knowledge.
4. Get in contact with other students
Do you have any friends or family who are currently students, or who have studied recently? Then you should get in contact with them and let them know that you are starting your studies and may need to ask them for advice. Most people remember what it was like to start studying a new topic, so they'll be able to help you when you need it. This is an especially good idea if you know anyone who is studying at your university, or if they are studying the same subject as you. Having someone who you can contact to answer your questions and advise you on studying is a great help!
5. Find out about support systems
However, if you don't know anyone who has the experience that you need, don't panic. Look to see if your university has a library department, a student services department, or similar support system. They should be able to help you with advice and support on studying – for example, they may offer free writing courses, or have a proofreading service for non-native English speakers. Find out what kind of social, academic, or personal support is available from your institution. That way, if you do have any problems when you start studying, you'll know where you can go to get help.
Enjoy your holidays and best of luck with starting your studies in the next semester!
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