Matriculating from high school is both exciting and scary. You are no longer a scholar, confined to the walls of your school grounds, but are on your way to becoming a university student. This can be a daunting experience but if you follow some simple advice, you will be able to walk onto campus feeling confident and ready to take on the world.

Read as much as possible in the holidays

You may feel as though this is extra homework, but doing extra reading in the holidays leading up to the first semester of college will prepare you for what is ahead. Reading as many books as possible in your areas of interest will increase your knowledge and help with adjusting to the workload of university. If you have registered with your chosen educational institution and live in the area, then you may find that many colleges in Cape Town and other provinces allow prospective students to visit the campus library. Use this opportunity to see what type of books are on offer to college students to gauge whether you are on this reading level or not.

Grow your technical abilities

Being able to use a computer successfully is vital for entering college. You will be using technology more than you did at high school, so you should familiarise yourself with the basics of operating a computer, including how to access and send emails. Being able to type quickly will allow you to finish assignments timeously, and knowing how to use the internet will enable you to research projects easily. It is important to grow your technical skills before you reach college so that you are not overwhelmed when required to perform tasks on a computer.

Work on your time management skills

One of the most important aspects of a successful college career is having good time management skills. Procrastination is the thief of time, so be sure to commit to staying organised with your time and in your life. You can do this at the beginning of your Matric year, so it becomes a habit or start in the holidays before college, making practising time management a holiday project. Invest in a day planner and organiser for taking down schedule changes to your syllabus, and download a time management or time tracking app to ensure that you are not straying from your carefully organised plans. Spend time creating a daily schedule that makes time for classes, homework, studying, and anything else.

Go in with an open mind

College is a different world to high school. At school, you saw the same faces every day and most likely spoke to and engaged with one circle of people during break times. However, college is a completely unique experience, where you will meet people from all walks of life, even from different countries. To avoid becoming overwhelmed when meeting these new people, you will need to remember to keep your mind open and not judge a person before you know them. Not everyone will agree with your politics or viewpoints, but that is part of the fun of attending college or university – having your views challenged and learning about other people and cultures.

Know how to stay safe on campus

It is an unfortunate fact that no matter how well guarded a college campus may be, crime can still happen. If possible, on the weekends during the school year, go to the campus and walk around to familiarise yourself with the gourds and the buildings, noting carefully where the exits and entrances are for emergencies.   You could ask students to show you where the assembly points are on the grounds, and look out for where security guards are stationed. If you will be driving to and from campus, find out where the parking lots and which one is the safest and easiest to access from your lecture venues.

Attend orientation activities

The best way to prepare yourself mentally for entering college is to attend the orientation activities geared towards prospective students. These activities are often organised by other students, so will provide you with vital information about the college, the grounds and what life will be like once you are a part of the campus. At these orientation events, you will meet other first-year students many of whom will become your classmates. You may find that they have advice on how to prepare for this big step, and getting to know them outside of these activities will ensure that you have people to speak to while on campus between classes.

Remember, everyone is in the same boat

Going to college out of matric can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. The other first-year students will be just as nervous and apprehensive as you are and it is vital to remember that asking for help is nothing to be embarrassed about. Have fun starting this new journey and good times will follow.