New Student? Don't Make these Common First-Year Mistakes
With its unique rolling entry system, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences welcomes a new group of students every few weeks. So how do you overcome all the jitters of a newcomer to Wittenborg?
Firstly, it doesn’t really matter what you did or have achieved in high school, as college life is definitely different. It is good to know that you start college or university life with a clean academic slate. From now on, whatever will be written on that slate depends very much on you and your own commitments. So brace yourself and set your targets and priorities right.
Get Familiar with Wittenborg's Online Resources
Ensure that you know how to use Wittenborg’s online resource page, because everything that relates to your studies is available there - from your course modules, timetables, exam registrations, results, to students’ handbook and many other online resources. Make sure you enrol in each module that you are taking and register for your exams early. Read the student handbook for tips on getting your BSN number, residence permit cards, student insurance, university doctor and dentist, and many other important details that can assist you to settle in the Netherlands better.
Know your Modules
Enrol in your course modules early and download all necessary resources before class. Trust me, doing it early really helps you to keep tabs on your progress. Don’t wait until one or two weeks before exams to go through the resources. It will be too late. Read up in advance whatever books, case studies or reference materials are provided in the course and as instructed by the tutors. Reading in advance will help you to understand the lessons better and will better prepare you for class discussions or group work. There is a lot of reading, so start early.
Manage your Time
Organise your time wisely. Set aside at least 2 hours per day to review your lessons or to catch up on your reading. I know it is hard to sit down to read or tackle homework at night, especially if you have class until 5pm. But, try as best as you can. Have a nice dinner and rest for 1 or 2 hours before hitting the books. I know there is a tendency for us to watch YouTube clips or browse our social media platforms and generally turn our body to relax mode. Don’t. You have to persevere and be consistent to avoid assignment meltdowns.
Attend All Classes - Yes, Really
I cannot stress enough the importance of attending all classes. Do not miss any class even if you think the class is boring or that you have already studied the module before (in the case of those taking their master's). Nothing is useless. There is always something new to learn. Take advantage of the class time to gain knowledge from your learned and experienced lecturers and tutors, as well as classmates from different backgrounds and countries. There are quite a few lecturers (and students) at Wittenborg who have field experience in the business and corporate world, so you will definitely get current and up-to-date information. Don’t miss it.
Avoid absences unless you are sick. No doubt you may have part-time jobs but take heed that your studies should take priority. Repeating exams or a college year should not be in your agenda. Take care of tardiness (late-coming) too. Firstly, it is rude and distracting to come late when your lecturer is already teaching in the classroom. Secondly, you might have missed important information or discussions.
Avoid Distractions and Participate in Discussions
Put your phone to silent mode and avoid checking on your mobile for FB or WhatsApp messages. Students also have the tendency to bring their laptops to class and start browsing the internet. Some even engage in online shopping during class. Abstaining from doing all these will not only show your respect for the lecturer but will benefit you in the long run. Do not attend class just for attendance's sake, but attend class for knowledge's sake. Participate in all class and group discussions. It will lead to better understanding of the lessons or topics and helps to trash out any misconceptions.
Understand the Different Type of Exams
Be aware of the type of examination you will take, whether Type 1 or Type 2, whether written exams, open-book exams, presentations, research papers or essays. Knowing the type of exams is pertinent because for some exams you have to make a really early head start. Take heed of all instructions and rules with regards to exams and classes. They are pertinent to doing things right and a remedy for anxieties and headaches. Some students miss exam dates or forget to submit forms due to their own negligence and lack of care. Avoid this. Keep in contact with your classmates and remind each other of deadlines and regulations. This will really help you with a smooth transition during your first few blocks and exams.
Ask if Unsure
Do not feel embarrassed to ask if you do not know anything. The administrative office is just a few steps away and they are always willing to assist you. Get to know your academic supervisor or professors and make appointments with them to discuss any issues you’re facing. If you feel overwhelmed or stressed out, or if you have anxiety attacks, seek help. Talk to a friend or your supervisor. Just remember, you’re not alone and you’re not the only one facing these challenges.
Maintain a Balanced Lifestyle
Don’t be so over anxious that you forget to take time off. Have a balance in your day-to-day activities. Enjoy a few hours per week of fun activities - sports, walking, playing games, cooking, shopping or just lazing on the grass in the park. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Be active and get involved with the activities organised on campus or off campus. Build up connections and engage in useful activities. Who knows? These may benefit you in the future.
by Hanna Abdelwahab
©Wittenborg University Press