How To Get The Most Out Of Going To University

How To Get The Most Out Of Going To University

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University education opens the doors to a bigger, better and opportunity-filled world for its graduates. According to the UN, not only are university graduates better paid in the workplace but compared to high school graduates, they have longer life spans, better access to health care, better dietary and health practices and increased economic stability and security.

Most of us have expectations of what university is like based on what we see in movies and TV shows. But actually, the incredible thing about university is that it can be anything you want it to be!

It can be a creative outlet for artistic expression or a hub for intellectual debate. It can a place for you to discover your strengths and abilities or to discover something completely new about yourself. It can be a place to meet new people from all around the world, and a place to have plenty of fun while also studying something you are actually passionate about.

With this being said, there is also no doubt that transitioning from a high school graduate to a university student can be a little daunting, especially if you are uncertain of what to expect. To help you make a smoother transition from school to university and to help you get the most of your university experience, we have listed 8 useful tips below.

Choose your university courses carefully
Consider your interests as well as which courses would be best for your career choice. Avoid choosing courses because they appear to be an easy option as you may not like or be able to engage with the content. Moreover, avoid choosing courses just because a friend is doing it – you will definitely meet new people and make new friends in every course you do. Take your time doing your research about various courses and ask for advice from academic counsellors to make well-informed choices.

Be the master of your fate and the captain of your ship
Your first few weeks at university will be a little daunting as you juggle various assignments and keep up with numerous classes. One way to overcome this is to view university as a great big ocean with endless wonderful possibilities. You have the chance to try different academic programmes, learn from experts and the best minds in your field, and explore your academic passions. Think of yourself as the captain of a ship navigating through these waters. This means you need to be in charge and take control of this journey or else you run the risk of being swept away by heavy storms. You can do this by keeping track of your deadlines, attending classes and tutorials regularly, and taking a proactive role in your studies. This will make university a calm sea to navigate.

Immerse yourself in student life
University is usually one of the only times in your life where you will have the chance to move out of your comfort zone, try new things, be exposed to new opportunities, and connect with people of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds. Don’t be afraid to push your comfort zone and be open to the many social and networking opportunities that are available for you to get involved in. If you are not sure how to get involved in campus life, get in touch with your university’s student council. Student councils often lead various student associations, societies, and initiatives like sporting clubs, cultural societies, debate teams etc.

Always prioritise your studies
Whilst it may be easy to get distracted by the social and fun aspects of university life, it is very important to remember why you are there. At the end of your undergraduate career, you will need to graduate with a degree, and with good grades as well. It is therefore important to maintain a balance between having fun and studying. Do not risk an assignment deadline or studying for an exam to attend a party or a social event. The wonderful thing about university life is that there are always social events throughout the year, so study first and have fun later.

Attend extracurricular lectures and seminars
Most universities invite guest speakers and lecturers who are subject-matter experts and leaders in their respective fields. These guest lectures are usually freely available and are unique opportunities to learn something new in your field or in a completely different field and to meet some really interesting and innovative people who will be a great source of inspiration. These events will also be a great opportunity for networking.

Make use of university resources
Universities offer their students various resources to help them excel in their studies including well-equipped libraries, study rooms, free internet access, state-of-the-art sporting facilities and so much more.  Find out what your university has to offer and instead of spending your own money on expensive services outside the university, you can utilise the excellent free resources your university provides for you.

Be open to new opportunities
Most universities offer opportunities for students to apply for bursaries, university exchange programmes or to earn money whilst studying.  Find out about these opportunities and don’t be afraid to apply to be a part of them. These opportunities are great for preparing you for the working world and exposing you to new cultures and ways of thinking.

Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Universities offer a plethora of health and wellness resources on campus to help students who feel overwhelmed, homesick, stressed or who are just simply in need of a friendly ear. Your mental and emotional health is as important as your physical wellbeing, so reach out to people you trust or your university’s student health services for guidance.

As a final word of advice, don’t forget to enjoy your journey through university.  The movies and TV shows got one thing right about university- they are usually some of the best years of your life!

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

7 Things to look into if you are considering obtaining your Degree in the USA

7 Things to look into if you are considering obtaining your Degree in the USA

What's new?

Studying abroad has become a very common option for young people over the years with the USA being the most popular student destination. According to InternationalStudents.com, the USA has the largest international student population with over 1 million international students pursuing educational opportunities each year.

Students are said to choose the USA for a number of reasons including academic excellence, advanced technology and research opportunities, a variety of educational opportunities, cultural education and an efficient support service for its international students.

Before you decide to study in the USA, there a number of things that an interested student should prepare in order to be considered as an international student in the USA and to get accepted into an American educational institution. Here are 7 things you should look into.

Do extensive research on the various educational institutions across the country
The USA has a number of state and private institutions positioned in different states offering similar majors and activities. However, it is important to note that these majors and activities also differ due to each states distinct identity which includes factors such as the climate, culture, and the economy. It is therefore advised that a student should read up on states and its institutions, and choose to study in an environment that compliments their personality, preferences and educational interests.
For instance, Washington offers six state universities and 24 private institutions to choose from, each offering a number of different majors and activities. This state can get up to 500 cm of rain yearly, very cold temperatures in winter and heat waves in summer. Universities in Washington benefit from the local economy which means industries such as computer software development, tourism, biotechnology, agriculture and telecommunications are advanced. Washington also offers professional and club sports such as basketball, football, soccer, ice hockey and baseball for sports fanatics. In addition, it boasts beautiful terrain, lakes and mountains where one can hike, camp, ski and enjoy a horse ride. Therefore, students looking to thrive in such industries, sports and activities, and who can easily adapt to this climate, may consider studying in Washington.

Read up on the university that you want to apply to and make sure you have backup options
After reading up on the different states and institutions, you will need to make a decision on the university you want to attend. This can be influenced by the subjects or the fields of study that the institutions offer, internship opportunities, and the top schools offering your degree of choice. You should also include backup options in case you don’t get into your first choice university.

Complete your application to the university
At this point, you would be ready to apply to your preferred institution. Thorough planning and time management is needed for the success of this process as a lot of documentation and arrangements need to be done correctly. The list below shows what this process includes:

  • Give yourself sufficient time to apply. This means to start the application process as early as possible as this affords you the time to read the application instructions and requirements thoroughly and properly. It gives you time to complete the application form with no errors and to provide necessary documentation as per specifications. It is suggested that a student starts this process 18 months before the academic year begins.
  • Institutions with competitive admissions usually require a significant amount of effort in their applications, including writing personal statements, requesting recommendations from your past teachers or tutors, and signing up for entrance exams such as the SAT, ACT and TOEFL to meet application standards. You should prepare for the above tasks by researching how to do them correctly and when to do them so you will have enough time to complete them.
  • School curriculums differ in each country therefore institutions accepting international students need to verify the authenticity of your documents and the status of the school you attended. This means your school may have to submit your transcripts to a credential evaluator who will examine your transcripts and translate them according to the American curriculum.

Apply for a VISA
One of the most important tasks when considering to study in the USA is applying for your VISA. There are different visas that could be issued to a student, namely the F1 Visa, M1 Visa and J1 Visa.
The F1 Visa is for full-time students enrolled in an academic programme. This visa does allow part-time employment on campus with a maximum of 20 hours per week and it allows for the student to work on optional practical training (OPT) for up to a year after completing their academic programme.
The M1 Visa is issued to a student attending a vocational school and holders of this visa are not permitted to work during their studies. Moreover, M1 students need to prove that they have sufficient funds to pay for their studies and living costs for the duration of the stay.
The J1 Visa is issued to students who need to acquire practical training to complete their academic programme, which is unavailable in their home country. Employment opportunities are the same as those for F1 Visa students.
A student would need one of the above visas to qualify to study in the USA. Furthermore, they would need to prove they can support themselves financially and provide health insurance evidence to cover any medical expenses they may need.

Understand the costs
Financial stability is important for students considering studying abroad. It is important to calculate how much money you will need for the academic programme, books and overall living expenses for the duration of your stay. There are also many international loans, scholarships and bursaries that institutions and organizations offer to international students which you can choose to apply for.

Set up reliable communication methods
To keep in touch with loved ones back home, you should make sure you set up accounts with different communication apps to keep in touch with loved one such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber. These come in very handy when you start feeling homesick.

Plan ahead for your student life
Finally, plan ahead for your life beyond the classroom. For example, you should include extramural activities and travel in your budget. You should look into public transport options around your university and the amenities available such as restaurants and retail places. You should also research the extramural activities that your university offers such as student clubs and societies so that you can enjoy the full experience.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.