10 Things I Wished I Knew Before Starting College

July 13, 2021 - Hayley Trousdale

We’re looking forward to seeing you in August, but before you come along on your first day we thought we would share 10 things that other students wished they had known before they started college.

10. Everyone is in the same position as you.
Some people in your class might have been to college before but they have never been in this particular class with this particular group of people. When you are feeling like you would appreciate a new friend or just a friendly face then it is likely that there are others in your class who feel the exact same. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

9. It’s okay to not know what you are doing all the time
Coming to college is a new experience and you will make mistakes - that’s ok.

If you don’t know how to do something or you are unsure about coursework then ask your lecturer for clarity – they are there to help you understand.

Remember, College is a huge learning experience – not just for your academic skills but your social ones too. Be kind to yourself and remember that you’re doing something you’ve never done before and you are not expected to get it right 100% of the time.

8. Previous students can be a great help
If there is an opportunity to speak with previous years’ students – speak to them.

They have been where you are, they have passed the units that you are going to be learning, they have figured out what you are trying to do and might be able to give you some helpful advice.

7. Look after your health and wellbeing
We all know that your brain (and body) performs better when you get a good night sleep and some good food. Try to get yourself into a better routine so that you are getting a good amount of sleep each night so that you are able to concentrate the next day in class.

Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health so take steps to look after it. Your GP should be the first place you go with any health concerns, mental or physical. We also have plenty of support services in the college who can help with any support you might need. Don’t be afraid to speak to your lecturer as they can connect you with services that can help you.

6. Be open to meeting new people
College is made up of thousands of different people from hundreds of different backgrounds. Try to be open minded about speaking with people who at first may seem a little different to you – you never know what you might have in common.

Not everyone is going to make it onto your new friends list and that’s ok.

Just remember, “in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

5. You will have to decide which bits are important
Learning at college is very different to learning at school. For the most part, college courses have practical elements and so you can’t just simply memorise what you are being told, you have to actually understand it and be able to apply it in practice.

You will be given a lot of new information in your lessons and you have to decide which of it is important for you to note down for later when you get onto your practical work. This is a skill that you will need to learn as you move through your course.

4. You’ll learn more than just your subject – if you want to
Of course, college is the time for you to learn about the course that you signed up for, but as mentioned before, it is also a great time to learn lots of other skills. Things like, time-management, communication, listening, prioritisation and delegation.

Now is the best time for you to practice these transferable skills so that when you get the career you have been working so hard for, you can impress with all of the above.

Make the most of your time at college and focus on building all those extra skills for your future.

3. Procrastination will be your nemeses
Are you a procrastinator? Deep down we all are.

Before you start college have a think about what systems you are going to use to stop you procrastinating. Try researching some time management strategies and find two or three that you think might work for you. When you start to procrastinate then try one out.

I promise, your future self will thank you for not leaving everything to the last minute.

2. Learning with others helps so much
You don’t need to have a formal “study group” but working alongside others in your class will allow you to talk through the work and deepen your understanding of what is being taught. Another great thing about working in a group is that it keeps you accountable and so you are more likely to get the work finished.

Better understanding and finished on time? Sounds like a win-win!

1. Don’t disappear into the distance
Ok, so you started college and you realise that it might not have been the right choice for you. That’s ok – it happens. First thing to do is speak to your lecturer about how you’re feeling. They will be able to talk you through your options, because what a lot of people don’t realise before they start college, is that you still have some!

If you feel you’re not on the right course or that there are circumstances out-with your control, then don’t disappear and never come back. Talk to us first. There is usually something we can do to fix it.


Michelle Wallace

Art and Design Lecturer


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