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5 truths about university life

08 December 2017 - 07:30 By Jessica Evans
Jessica Evans Rhodes University student.
Jessica Evans Rhodes University student.
Image: Supplied.

Jessica Evans, a journalism student at Rhodes University, explains how her experience in varsity has been so far and how things change all the time.

5 things I have learned in 2 years of university: realities and tips for future students and student-families

People will waste your time 
Chances are, as you find your feet at a university you will make new friends and possibly join a number of student societies.  You might even find yourself in student leadership.  All these possibilities have their perks, but you will find yourself frustrated with all of these on a number of occasions.  Time is valuable, but others are often inconsiderate of that. 

There is not much you can do about the actions of others, but you cannot spend your time at university irritated and uptight – believe me, I know.  The truth is, your time will be wasted so you may as well not take yourself so seriously.  Good time management will allow for a bit of wasted time. 

You won’t get the marks you want
First year is an enormous leap from matric for some and second year is yet another leap for many.  Somewhere along the line you will fail an assignment or a test, or not get the A’s you are used to. 

Again, my advice here is to not take yourself so seriously.  If you do not feel challenged at any time in your university career you are not learning anything.  Seek help from lecturers, peers, or tutors and you will find your way. 

You will be curious 
About many things – about your sexuality, about your self-expression, about your subject opportunities, and many other things.  That is absolutely fine.  Now that you have left the confines of school you are able to experiment more. 

You may find that you would like to dye your hair, get piercings or tattoos.  You may find that you prefer one subject over another and you may question your career path.  You may find yourself doing hobbies you’d never thought you would enjoy or liking people you had never considered as suitors before. 

All of this is normal.  The sudden absence of rules is exciting and every time you experiment you are discovering more about yourself.  My only advice here is don’t be shy, but be safe, always, and do not judge others for their choices so long as they harm no-one. 

Living is expensive 
You will probably find yourself broke on more than on occasion.  Student life, especially away from home, is expensive.  You will crave random snacks at random times, textbooks cost thousands and you still want to keep your social life alive.  None of these is a cheap aspect of student life. 

Try to budget your money as you do your time: some for work; some for social time.  University libraries are well-stocked in my experience so try and use the textbooks there, or buy second-hand. 

Midnight munchies are a thing and they are difficult to get rid of, so it is difficult to reduce snack costs so eat healthy, so you stay full for longer and avoid exhaustion, do not binge-eat and monitor, strictly, how much you spend on food.  Nobody said a social life need cost money – do your best to do fun activities that cost nothing.

You need balance and you will take some time finding it 
The extra freedom university provides may be a bit of a curse.  Many students struggle to find balance between their social and academic lives.  Some people are too social and as a result their academics suffer. 

To these people, I say you need to find self-discipline – if you have work to do and some friends invite you out, have the courage to resist, and do what you need to do; be social as a reward for work accomplished.  Other people work too hard.  To these people, I say relax. 

You do not need to finish an assignment a week before it is due, force yourself to take some time off, you have got everything under control and can afford some time for yourself.  To all students, you are at university to get a degree, do not lose sight of this goal, but have fun while you still can.