A word to varsity students

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EDITOR — IT’s that time of year again when varsity opens and students will be going back to their ‘college life’ as they term it. Be that as it may, they need a bit of advice on what to expect.

You may be reading this expecting me to share my sophisticated sophomore wisdom with you. You may be hoping for some comforting advice sprinkled with inspirational quotes. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m qualified to give anyone advice on how to adjust to college life; I’m still figuring it out for myself! I may not have the answers, but what I do have are my experiences.

 I wanted to share a couple thoughts with you, whether you’re a first or fourth year, that might help you as you begin another academic year.

Grind until you make it. Research indicates that the act of smiling actually puts us in a better mood if you smile long enough; it actually makes you feel happy. And people respond more positively when you project friendliness and confidence. This is a great technique for interviews, new acquaintances and many other situations.

I am not here to sugar-coat anything. Going away to college is scary. It can be disorienting, overwhelming, even lonely at times. But it is also exciting, challenging and enlightening. It will change you in every way and help you uncover things that you didn’t know about yourself. The truth is, there’s no way you can really be prepared. When it comes to going back to college, it is best to expect the unexpected. 

Remember everyone struggles at times; you’re not alone. Reach out and ask for help when needed. It’s a sign of strength. Challenge negative self-talk. Start by first recognising the self-defeating talk (such as, “I’m going to fail”) and then look for alternative statements (like, “This is going to be hard”) and a different perspective (like, “I’m going to do my best”). 

Practice self-compassion and treat yourself the way you would a close friend. That means acknowledge daily victories, character growth and things you like about who you are becoming. Do your reading. Or at least skim what’s been assigned to you.

Put judgment aside, especially if it’s negative. Don’t make any conclusions about a new situation for at least a week. The more emotional we feel, the less logical our thoughts become, so when we are inundated with ‘newness’ it’s beneficial to wait until the dust settles before making a value judgment.

As a college student, you should make it a mandate to read local, national and global news. It helps give you perspective on what is going on around the country and your studies as well. 

Lastly, set goals with incentives. Reward yourself when you’ve worked hard and have put in your best effort. Grades aren’t the only reason to treat yourself, you need to practice gratitude; you will have more friends, feel happier and be less anxious if you find things to be thankful for each day. 

Trev Mwafu,

 Harare. 

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