b4 u go – 10 lessons in preparing for university/college

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  1. Take Control
    Imagine your future is like a bus journey. So far you’ve been looking out & enjoying the views as a passenger or perhaps you’ve been preoccupied with other stuff or maybe just watching the world as it passes by – either way you haven’t really been focused on where you’re going. Now would be a good time to look ahead. You need to get into the drivers seat, plan a route and concentrate on the road ahead.
  2. Be your own Satnav
    Let your inner guidance system tell you whether you are going in the right direction. Where to from here? Which road should you be on? By what means will I get there?
  3. Empower yourself
    You know, check out the Uni/Col prospectus, website, maybe their calendar or other college & career choice literature – this might include specialist or even professional publications. Read it, think about it and talk about it. The writer John McGahern had it right when he said “We’re all oppressed by ignorance, knowledge gives us power”. Be empowered.
  4. Get the full picture
    Read the course description but do more than that – get the full course detail. Look up or request the Module Information and
    Choice/Options – usually this can be accessed via the Faculty web page> then course description> then Module Info section. What are the entry requirements, check them out? Some colleges don’t provide this information online or it can be hard to find so you might have to request it by email or phoning directly – don’t be afraid, most will be happy to help you.Look at the kind of stuff you’ll be studying, their teaching methods and how you will be assessed. Are there any other features of the course such as opportunities for work placement or study abroad?Make your open day visit productive by planning in advance – which talks and where, what questions would you like answered from your visit? Don’t be afraid to talk to current students. This detailed information may prove crucial in your decision to take it or not.
    Remember the 3 R’s Research, Research, Research.
  5. Free Yourself
    Take responsibility for your decision, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your efforts. This means you need to recognise that only you can do the leg work. Give yourself time to talk to family & friends and discuss your plans. This is essential to choosing your own destiny.
  6. Choose something you’re suited to.
    If a course isn’t suitable for you then you won’t work as hard and it follows that you’ll get less out of it. Howard Gardner in ‘Frames of Mind; the Theory of Multiple Intelligences’ stresses the importance of having a viable model of oneself. Honestly assess your strengths and your level of interest & patience for what’s involved.
  7. Be Prepared
    One of the main reasons students give for dropping out of courses is that they didn’t realise they would be studying certain subjects, subjects which they had little interest or ability in. They were unprepared. If they were like farmers it’d be like neglecting to till the land. What do you need to do to be best prepared? Take control and plan where you’re going for the next few years.
  8. Check out the Landscape
    Let’s say all courses can be represented as branches on the ‘tree of knowledge’. Stand back and take a walk around. Can you visualise which branches you’re more likely to be sitting on? Have you identified what the attraction is for you? Make sure you have a genuine interest rather than just a curiosity for something that sounds interesting or exciting. Base your decision on facts and a true
    understanding of what’s involved.
  9. Life is like an adventure
    Your attitude towards this adventure largely dictates your level of success and satisfaction. You can choose to see it this way or pretend otherwise. Surely this recent economic meltdown reminds us that things are constantly changing and the world is less controllable or predictable that we thought. So we need to have a more flexible, adaptable and dare I say adventurous approach to managing the issues, tasks, problems & opportunities of today and tomorrow. This approach will make your journey more fun & enjoyable.
  10. Seize the Opportunity
    Choosing is an opportunity for self autonomy. Self autonomy is important if you’re going to carry it through and
    succeed. Prepare for and make a conscious decision. See it as your opportunity and take responsibility for activating that choice. It’s up to you to prepare yourself, no one else can or will do it for you. So go on get started, now.

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