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Help is near for new varsity students

Written by: More Matshediso

Adapting to a new learning environment might be exciting for some students, but it can be intimidating for others. 

A project specialist for training and support at Career Development Services (CDS),  Romeo Pule Nkwale says one of the contributing factors to the anxiety faced by many first-year students is that they may have moved away from their sources of support.

CDS is a unit within the Department of Higher Education and Training it offers advice on choosing a career.

The unit not only targets school learners but also people who would like to change careers.

“Transitioning from high school to an institution of higher learning can be intimidating and a culture shock for many. This is when many students will first experience living away from home,” Nkwale explains.

What to expect

Institutions of higher learning are mostly diverse, with students coming from different parts of the world and having different backgrounds. This means they are likely to behave and respond to situations differently.

“This is a student’s opportunity to grow, not only academically but also personally,” he adds.

Unfortunately, Nkwale says the opportunity comes with a number of changes and challenges, including:

  • experiencing a feeling of anxiety and frustration that can lead to isolation, overindulging or inferiority complex
  • increased workload and adapting to new teaching and learning methods
  • less contact time with lecturers which is difficult for learners used to being spoon fed.

Tips to help you cope

  • Self-management skills - the ability to balance the different areas of your life, including social, academic, health, financial and spiritual.
  • Interpersonal skills - how you relate to and communicate with people around you. These include listening, verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
  • Time management skills - the ability to manage your time because there is a lot of work to be covered.
  • Teamwork skills - some modules will require you to work in a group, give input and listen to other people’s opinions.
  • It is important for students to have the resources they need, such as the prescribed books, study guides, stationery and a dictionary, and to follow and stick to their study timetable.

Where to go for help

Support services at most learning institutions include a financial aid office, library, disability unit, student counselling and guidance unit, peer mentors and student support services.

Contact details

National Career Advice Portal: www.careerhelp.org.za

You can SMS your question or send a ‘please call me’ to 072 204 5056 or call 086 999 0123 from Monday to Friday between 8am and 4.30pm.

Email: careerhelp@dhet.gov.za

Facebook: www.facebook.com/careerhelp

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rsacareerhelp