Tips to make successful transition to university

The transition from high school to university can be a challenging experience, a challenge that just under half of all students fail to master.

A study published by the Council of Higher Education (CHE), which tracked students over five years, showed that only 35% of students complete their degree within the standard time allocated and 41% of all students who enter tertiary institutions drop out.

Design School of South Africa head of honours Ria van Zyl said through proper understanding and realistic expectations, aspiring undergraduates could learn how to successfully navigate the leap.

“The biggest difference students will discover is that their days of being ‘spoon-fed’ in the school classroom are over. They will have to start thinking and working independently, while motivating themselves to keep up with their work schedule,” she said.

Van Zyl said because high school was mandatory and structured, pupils often did not have the discipline required to succeed in university.

Former students who “survived” university offered some advice.

Abongile Manqinana, a qualified engineer who studied at Walter Sisulu University, said making friends with the right people was important, so as not to fall into the trap of peer pressure.

Antoinette Doyle, a former student at Rhodes University, cautioned students not to skip classes and to submit their assignments on time.

Van Zyl shared some tips on how to make the transition to university:

Take control of your own education, you are responsible for your own success.
Get to know your lecturers.
Create a support structure with your friends.
Manage your time by planning ahead to meet your academic obligations.
Stretch yourself intellectually.
Do independent research in your chosen field as learning outside of the classroom will give you a leg up.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from course leaders and institution councillors.

Make use of extra classes and tutoring sessions if you feel you need them.

Set goals and decide what you want to achieve while you are studying.

“Most importantly, don’t ever give up.”