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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 6, No. 6 - November/December 2014

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A Summer Guide to Preparing for University

By Tim Laurence

After completing six years of high school and sitting your final exams, the last thing on your mind is preparing for university. Although the summer holidays are the perfect time to sleep in, travel and relax, you'd also be wise to use your time productively and consider getting prepared for university.
Now don't get me wrong, it's really important to relax and 'recover' from high school or even travel with a group of friends, but doing a few things can make your transition from high school to university a little easier.

Get a summer job

Working part time before you start university is something everyone should consider. After a long break, it can be hard to get back into a normal routine. If you are working part time, your body will develop a routine and when you suddenly have to start university, this adjustment to your routine is easier to handle. Working part time also allows you to start to manage your time independently; this experience becomes valuable if you decide to study and work at the same time. Having worked in the job for a few months, you can decide if you will be able to manage the workload of university and your job. If you know you won't be able to manage both, you can use the money you have earned over the summer throughout the year.

Know your options

During the summer holidays you find out if you have been accepted into the degree and university you wanted. Unfortunately not everybody gets an offer for their first or second preference. If this happens to you, it's important to know your options. Completing a pathway program, such as a diploma at UTS:INSEARCH may a great way to help you get into your dream degree.

Know your key dates

All universities publish a calendar that includes when each semester starts and finishes, exam blocks and census dates. Invest in a yearly wall planner and map out your key dates. Once you have received your subject outline, you can then highlight when assessments and projects are due. The yearly planner will then enable you to visualise your upcoming deadlines and busy periods, allowing you to plan ahead and avoid rushing your assessments.

Attend Orientation week

Orientation week or O-week, usually occurs during the last weeks of your summer holidays. It's really important to attend as crucial information about your university and faculty is usually shared. By attending O-week you can start to get your bearings around campus, learn how to get to and from university, hear about the support services that are available to you and join university clubs and societies. If you skip Orientation week, you may miss out on vital information that would help you down the track.

Let someone know early if you are struggling

If, after the first three weeks of university, you are already behind in your readings, have missed some classes and generally feel like university is too much, talk to someone. The transition from high school to university can be overwhelming and if you are struggling with it, it's best to talk to your tutor, an academic counsellor or even a family member. It may just be a matter of studying part time or changing to a pathway program, but it's important you change your subjects before the census date to avoid fees and a tarnished academic record.

No matter what you want to achieve at university, it's important that you start by feeling prepared and knowing your options. Starting a university degree can be one of the most important milestones in your life, so make sure you use your time effectively and remember to give it your best.

About Tim Laurence

Tim is the Dean of Studies at UTS:INSEARCH, the premium pathway provider to the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). He is responsible for the delivery and quality assurance of all UTS:INSEARCH pathway programs. With over 25 years experience in higher education teaching and management, he is also an Adjunct Professor of Design at UTS.

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