College Advice: To New Students

It’s that time of year again when excitement rides high in many-a young adult as they prepare to embark on a new stage/journey in life: University!

For many, the smell of freedom is intoxicating and for other the pressure to succeed is more than they can bear. There are many things persons will tell you before you head off to university including “A up deh nuff pickney go bruk out” or “Nobody come back as nuh Ras enuh” but the good solid advice is rare.

I wished someone told me many of the things I had to learn myself. As such I will be granting you a favour by passing those bits on. I promise you this is not the generic, text-book type advice. This is the real deal.

I started the University of the West Indies, Mona being very observant and careful of what teachings I accepted. That molded me early into the hot-heat, no-nonsense, loved and hated person I went through university as. The main thing is to visualize who you want to leave as (You 2.0) and work towards it.

Orientation

This is where you will get an overload of information about the institution. Much of it is useful and will help you in your course there if it is that you plan to be stellar. Do not let another student (new or otherwise) tell you that the information is not important. You decide that for yourself after you have received it all! PAY ATTENTION.  If you live on a Hall of Residence or whatever it is that they have evolved into be involved and engaged. You will be living with these people, makes no sense to isolate yourself and be an island on a land mass.

Courses

Choose your courses according to what you want your degree to say. If you have registered for an Economics degree, choose those courses. If you want a combined degree, ensure that all the necessary courses for that other major/minor are chosen as well. Work in tandem with your faculty offices to ensure that your time table is looking right. Never be afraid to ask for advice or help, it doesn’t make you look stupid, it shows that you are smart enough to know that something isn’t clear and someone can clarify it for you. Unless you are asking something ridiculous like “I don’t have to show up to lectures since they don’t keep attendance, right?” Try that in any faculty except every one!

Foundation courses are not punishment (though they will seem like it). Now they go towards your GPA so take them seriously.

Do not be rude to lecturers, tutors and anyone there before you. Having an intellectual argument is welcomed but no *&&#%^*((& foolishness!

Attend lecturers and tutorials and be on time. And prepare to READ for your degree. At the end you will be a master reader, I guarantee!

Give yourself earlier deadlines than lectures…No last minute stress when everyone else is dying!

More than anything, make sure that what you are studying is what you love or your entire time will be dreadful.

 

Extra-Curricular

Commit to them. Don’t just dabble in things here and there. Find something worthwhile and stick to it.  Build a reputation so that when it comes time for a recommendation or verification for your resume, there will be no hassle because they know who you are.

At the end of your degree you should not only have great academic qualifications but a spectacular trail of extracurricular activities. The balance must be found. Never neglect one of them.

Friends and the Opposite Sex

They are there! They aren’t going anywhere! Don’t make it your goal to jump into pants. My advice is to be friendly with them. MAKE FRIENDS, they will be better than pocket money during your stay and especially after grad! Having some genuinely good parees is essential to keeping your sanity.

As it relates to sex, you are all adults right? No one can stop you but bear in mind that not everyone can be trusted and there are malicious persons on campus and even some of unstable minds. I have encountered the crazies and I beseech you…BE CAREFUL.

Parties

There are an abundance of them on campus. Attend a few. It may not be your cup of tea but get the experience and support some events. For those who have already been broken into the party-hard lifestyle, remember: why you are at UWI, how much it cost, and that this is the age of the internet and social media. Your Worst Behaviour Nights will not be confidential. Nothing is worse than rumours and poor conduct with witnesses.

Life after UWI

Preparation for that begins in 1st year, Make links! Volunteer in companies that might offer jobs in your area. Make the corporate (or whichever) world know of you before you finish your degree (Doctors, good luck). Corporate Mingles are held weekly. Dress up and go! Shake hands, sell yourself well (I mean market not actual vending). Send out resumes for jobs months before completing your degree. For summer work, months before summer break. The Office of Career Placement can help too.

My Quick Tips to you would be:

  • Find out every source of tuition supplement and apply, apply, apply till the ink from your pen runs dry.
  • If it’s free and the university is offering it to you, take it!
  • Use the shuttle bus service and whatever else the Guild of Students has for you.
  • Females, never walk alone at night.
  • Do not let anyone force anything on you.
  • Hold your leaders accountable!
  • Learn to cook!
  • Mix with the other nationalities and learn from them.
  • Use your health card. You will not be given the money back! Use ye all of it, with thankfulness in your hearts!
  • Be quiet about your man and woman businesses.
  • Take studying seriously.
  • The library is yours…indulge!
  • Always think about the future.
  • Be in the KNOW.
  • You are no longer a child. Stop acting like one (in every sense).

I hope you have a great stay at the University of the West Indies! Make your tuition-payer proud!

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