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28 April 2020

How to Prepare Yourself for College Starting Now

You’re moments away before you embark on a new journey towards college. You may have been doing your homework by researching for the best courses or scouting the top institutions to enrol in. But are you prepared for what college life has in store for you? Do you have what it takes to tackle the obstacles that will come your way? 

Read below to find out what skills you should equip yourself with before you glide the halls of a higher institution!

1. Start developing organised study habits

 

Becoming a college student is like being bestowed the key to freedom, compared to your days in high school where everything down to your clothes have been decided. But in college, you are in charge of well, YOU.

And that includes taking full responsibility for your studies and your entire life!

 

As you begin your journey in tertiary education, you’ll soon learn that postponing your assignments or studying at the eleventh hour will not work to your advantage. Well, at least not all the time. Procrastinating too much will induce a lot of stress and not to mention your anxiety will also skyrocket. If you’ve been the king or queen of procrastination, you’ll need to buck up on your work strategy starting now.

Tips to developing structured study habit:

1. Allocate a study hour with no distractions.

2. Allocate a clear space where you can work and study alone.

3. Plan your homework and complete your assignments prior to the deadline. (In college, you’ll have multiple assignments with neck and neck, if not the SAME, deadlines.)

4. Find an accountability buddy to help you stay on track with your schedule.

5. Set a goal to achieve and give yourself a small reward when you accomplish it.

2. Start taking notes in class

 

As of now, you’re set with the study materials you need for the rest of the year. So, you may think there’s no need to take notes in class with everything in hand… 

But it's not the same in college! Unlike in high school, your answers for college assignments aren’t always in the books

 

Instead, most of the million-dollar ideas are in the minds of your lecturers. So it pays to be attentive in class especially if you’re learning something new. 

And you might think, “Aiya, I’ll remember this for sure.” Believe us, you WON’T. It’s best to pen down every new info you get! You won’t be able to pause your professor (not always) in the middle of a lecture, so writing speed is essential (though some universities provide online videos you can fast forward or rewind the lessons). That said, start practising!

Tips to take better notes:

1. Use a ballpoint pen to reduce friction as you write. (While you may use digital device in college, handwriting boosts your learning process.)

2. Study the topic before class to catch the idea faster.

3. Write the keywords only — you won’t have time to write in full sentences.

4. Use abbreviations and short forms. For e.g, use “w/” for “with”, “r/ship” for “relationship”, “eg.” for “examples”. (Remember, you’re NOT allowed to write in short forms in exams.)

5. Write in cursive so you don’t have to lift your pen as often. Remember to keep it legible otherwise, you’re left with gibberish notes.

3. Start becoming more vocal

 

No, we’re not asking you to be someone you’re not, i.e. from being an introvert to an extrovert. In fact, introverts are good at communicating their ideas and thoughts (think Bill Gates, Emma Watson, and Albert Einstein). 

While you find comfort in keeping a low profile, remember it might be detrimental in the long run especially when asking for help.

In college, you’re expected to be independent including finding solutions to your problems. This means asking questions when you don’t know; which counts as active participation in class.

You’ll also be tasked with many presentations that your grades rely upon. So, mastering the art of speaking will boost your confidence when presenting as well.

Tips for effective speaking skills:

1. Write down your questions before you ask (if you’re asking a question in class).

2. Try to sound as confident as you can, even if you’re not.

3. Don’t rush your words and enunciate every word clearly.

4. Practise speaking in front of the mirror (and record yourself). Find out your errors and try to improve from there.

5. Avoid using filler words like ‘um...’ or ‘err...’ (try to pause and think before you speak).

4. Start expanding your horizons

 

Well, you might be the Hermione Granger in class, but are you also a Harry Potter in the field? 

While you could be a braniac who has memorised every fact in the ‘Sejarah’ books (both Form 4 and Form 5) or all the elements in the Periodic Table, it's not enough to breeze through college.

 

Aside from the usual assignments and exams, in college, you’ll be thrown with various situations that require critical thinking and creativity. So, you’ll need to think outside the box, which you can’t if you’re stuck in your comfort zone. You don’t need to go far for this. In fact, with a quick Google search, you’re sure to find something you can do within reach!

Tips to gain more experiences:

1. Be an active member in your co-curricular activities (e.g. join camps, be a cheerleader).

2. Dive into an interest you’ve always wanted to explore (e.g. photography, music).

3. Get a part-time job or internship for high school students. (Bonus, if it’s related to your field of interest.)

4. Do voluntary work in a charity organisation. (Gives you an incredible boost to your college applications.)

5. Learn something new like a skill or language (e.g. Coursera, Duolingo).

5. Start thinking about your dreams

 

This could be the most challenging and daunting task of all. If you’ve already figured out your goal in life, kudos to you! 

But those who haven’t got this dilemma sorted, don’t worry. Not everyone is born with a crystal clear mindset of who they aspire to be. In fact, many people often turn out to pursue a different profession from their degrees.

 

Hence it’s why you should begin to ponder on these big questions like “What am I interested in?”, “Who do I want to be?”, “How can I achieve my dream?”, and etc. Just imagine if you could be anything you want, what would that be? Don't let your dream stay a dream. You can always work for it by building good habits towards your goal. And try not to limit your options before making any final decisions!

Tips for finding your career paths:

1. Take personality and career quizzes.

2. Speak to experienced education counsellors.

3. Talk to your older siblings or seniors for pointers.

4. Do your research on the various fields you’re interested in.

5. Attend open days online.

If you’d like a good head start before college begins, be sure to do these and thank us later! Reminder: It’s never too late to get started. 

Also, do tell us on our Instagram if you have other concerns about entering college and we’ll try to address them in the coming posts!

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Josephine Serena
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