5 Steps to Winning at College

March. To some it’s the first bloom of spring, but to many it’s college application season. The gap between high school and college is pretty big, and I’m sure we don't want to be that one person free falling off the cliff. Fear not my fellow college mates, there’ll be many helping hands throughout your pursuit in higher education.

This, for one, is your foolproof guide on claiming that holy grail! Here are 5 steps on how YOU can triumph in college.

Step 1: Identify who you are & who you want to be


Grab a pen and paper, then write. Describe the kind of person you are now and the kind of person you want to be. Are you someone who miraculously performs better last minute or are you someone who needs to organise everything down to the smallest detail? Look at your life now from different perspectives: health, academic, lifestyle, and so on. Once you’ve identified the situation you’re currently in, go ahead and visualise your ideal self. Who do you want to be 10 years down the road? What kind of life do you truly want to lead? It doesn't have to be anything bizarre. Something as simple as working a job you’re happy in is good enough.

Step 2: Backtrack from your end goal to your current situation


Just like a game of snakes and ladders,before you win, (which is reaching the end goal), sometimes, you may have to take a few steps backwards (where you’re at right now) in order to continue. You need to observe the roads you have to take and the different roads you get to consider to reach the end goal. Analyse and break down possible scenarios. 

Think about these questions. What results are required to get the scholarship you want in university? What should you get done to make your personal dreams come true? Then, make a chart, or create a PowerPoint slide while you’re at it. Actually putting ‘what you want’  into a physical form will help make things feel more realistic rather than a vague faraway dream. However, remember to always give yourself space to be flexible as things don’t always go as planned — you have to learn to adapt!

Step 3: Set small goals to achieve


Now that you have your end goal and choices you can make all sketched out, set goals — be it large or small. Don’t stack them up into one year or a whole sem. Instead, break them down into months, weeks or even days.

Adjust your goals according to the situation you’re in and know that when there’s a will, there’s a way. College could potentially have terribly bad scenarios that mess up your goals, don’t beat yourself up over that. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be academic goals; personal enrichment goals, hobbies, and many more aspects of your life can also be considered. One mistake people make in college and university is surrounding their life around it. You can have a life in and out of school.

Step 4: Divide your work

Don’t pile your work together or leave them to the last minute. Schedule your life. Get a planner jot down the days where you have to work out (for that healthy glow, get chores done, attend social events, and how much work you have to get done over the course of a few days. The mental breakdown is NOT worth it. However, if you’re amazing at working under pressure, you do you. Understand the limits to your capabilities. Surely you’ll tell me, “Ugh, but I did fine in high school by winging it”. Trust me, from my experience in college, things get overwhelming real quick.

Step 5: Understand what you can or cannot do


Make sure you know what are the minimum requirements (of results or anything) you have to achieve that month in order to reach your end goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should be aware of the space or marks you CAN lose and the ones you CAN'T. Don’t be too harsh on yourself for not achieving top results (in anything) and understand that it’s okay to fall below expectations sometimes. Fall down now, pick yourself back up, and try again. Do better to cover the areas you missed next semester. 

Consistency is what matters instead of outbursts of energy. For example, if you want to maintain a CGPA of 3.7 and above, but you got a B- for lazing around a bit too much and it drags your CGPA down, don’t get too hung up over it. Breathe, cry, and do whatever to make yourself feel better, but work hard and strive for an A next sem to balance out the marks lost. Life is technically a ‘one-life video game’ — you’ve to make sure your attributes are balanced out.

Dear reader, full of anticipation and faith for the future, I regret to inform you, but we’ve reached the end of our 5-Step College Guidebook. At the end of the day, it’s important for you to remember that this is merely a guidebook and a compilation of my personal experience.

How you choose to proceed with college is entirely up to you. Your life, your story, your decisions. All I hope for is that you take this guidebook with you along the way, to help you take your first steps in college and remember that you’re not alone!

PS: If you’re concerned about stepping out into college, don’t worry! At Taylor’s, newly enrolled First-Year students will be assisted via a mentoring programme called FLAME (First-Year Learning and Mentoring), developed by Taylor’s Centre for Future Learning to help you settle into university and college life!  

Bernice Lee is currently pursuing Foundation in Arts at Taylor's College. She is also a hunter of the creative arts, aiming her arrow at dance, handicraft, fashion and anything that speaks to her soul.

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