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Make your first year in college rock!

Last updated on: July 13, 2011 12:34 IST

Make your first year in college rock!

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Divya Nair Mumbai

New to college? Presenting a roadmap of things you should do in your first year.

It's a whole new chapter in your life, starting college. You leave behind the secure environment of your school and your childhood buddies and embark upon an education that will have a direct impact upon your career.

College feels like a new place full of challenges, right from making good friends to balancing study time and revelling in newfound freedom. So how should you handle it and start off on the right foot? We spoke to students, teachers and principals from a few colleges in Mumbai who offered advice.

1. 'Excuse me, but where's the library?'

If it's your first year and you haven't made any friends, the best way to pass time would be to explore your college campus.

Come a little earlier than usual and walk around your campus before your classes begin and get familiar with the layout and various departments.

Look for places you will be constantly visiting throughout the year, eg the library, canteen, gymkhana, auditorium, cultural forum etc.

Says Mitali Parekh, a first year BSc student from KJ Somaiya College, Mumbai, "If you take up science, you will be spending most of your time in the laboratory doing practicals and completing journal work. So your first year is the time when you can hang around a little in the canteen and gymkhana. These are good places to make friends, since students from different branches come there. You can spend some quality time after/before class rather than bunking lectures and going home or watching movies."

"In fact you will be surprised to know that even in their second year, a lot of students don't know where the college library is," continues Mitali. "The library, as most people think, is no longer a place stuffed with books alone. Most colleges are either Internet-enabled or have Wi-Fi to help students. You won't know what facilities your college offers, until you explore it."

Are you a college student or have interesting experiences to share about college? Tell us about how you tackled your first year. You can write to us at getahead@rediff.co.in (subject line: 'Surviving My First Year in College') with your story and we'll publish the best entries right here.

Your privacy is assured. If you do not want to name the institute or disclose your real name, do let us know.

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2. 'Hi, my name is...'

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College is also the time when you move from one group of friends to another. It's important not to feel lonely in a new environment.

Says Mehak Gvalani, Vice-Principal of KC College, Mumbai, "Students come from a very comfortable environment. It takes time for them to get out of their comfort zone and talk to strangers. To them, acceptance among peers is very important. Also, it is important that your peers accept you the way you are, for what you are. So, we have a lot of activity groups and clubs to encourage children take up an activity of their choice and also enjoy it along with education."

Meet as many fellow students as you can during orientation itself. It's a great time to get introduced formally. Sometimes the people you meet during orientation become your best friends.

Interact with senior members of the college (particularly your course) whenever you can. Don't wait for them to come to you, you can approach them. Talk to them; seek their advice and learn more about your stream and course. You can use their experience and tackle freshman issues better.

Choose your new friends wisely. Be yourself. Do not imitate or try hard to fit in. Hang around with people whose views and way of life match with yours, so that you learn to cope better.

3. 'Ma'am, can you explain again, please?'

Find out who the best professors from your college are and take time off and introduce yourself to them after the class. You have to spend the rest of the semester under their guidance. How much you enjoy any course depends to some extent upon your relationship with the professor.

Don't be scared to raise your hand and ask your professors questions if you don't understand something. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Your question may be one that others may also have, but just haven't asked for the same reason as you. Remember, professors are there to help you. If they insist on meeting you after class, find time for the same.

"Also ensure that you are not overdoing it. Keep your relations as brief and academic as possible. Don't let yourself be the subject of discussion among other your classmates," suggests Dhaval Shah, a second year commerce student from KJ Somaiya.

"Most students think that they can make more friends by bunking lectures. Wrong. In fact, they can make more friends by sitting in a class and sharing knowledge. These days even teachers have become student-friendly and crack jokes to lighten the environment," adds Gvalani.

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4. 'Call me a nerd, but I'm attending this class!'

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While it may be tempting to bunk college and indulge in a game of football with friends, do not do so at the cost of your attendance.

A majority of colleges insist on a mandatory attendance of 70-75 percent to appear for exams. Even if attendance is not taken, keeping it regular will ensure you're on top of things. At least you need not be scared of being featured in the 'black list' every month.

Professor Shalini Sinha who teaches English at KC College, Mumbai, says students lack focus and should make the most of the lectures whenever they can. "Students who attend classes more often will be better prepared to take the examinations. You will feel more confident and will be able to present the paper better."

5. 'Are you signing up for the debate team too?'

Says Professor Sinha, "In the first year, students are generally shy and hesitant to participate in extra-curricular activities. The only activities that students are interested in are singing and dancing. There are so many other analytical activities you can indulge in like debates, elocution, painting, organising etc."

Sangeeta Kohli, Principal of SK Somaiya College and conductor of the BMM course, has a word of advice for students from vernacular mediums. She explains, "In the first year, it is the vernacular medium students who find it difficult to communicate with their new batchmates. They need to come out of their mould and start participating in more activities so that they develop confidence and gain an edge over others. They need to brush up their language skills and start communicating more often. This is very important for students who are pursuing management and other professional courses."

"They lack self esteem in the first year," complains KC College Professor Jayshree Mukund. "Students should start reading and do their own research. They are misinformed about a lot of things, which needs to be corrected. Unless they interact with people and proactively participate in college activities, they will neither realise their strengths nor fight their beliefs."

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6. 'Accounts homework this evening...'

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Identify the difficult subjects in your semester. If you have taken science, work towards completing your journals on time. If you have taken a professional course, make a schedule of how to submit your assignments/projects on time and stick by it.

Chalk out a timetable and allot yourself time to prepare for each subject.

Avoid procrastination. Waiting till the last day to work on a subject is not a good idea.

"In college, you don't realise how quickly time passes, especially when you are with friends," says Mugdha Achrekar, a final year commerce student, from HR College, Mumbai. "In the end, you land up in a long queue at the xerox centre outside your college or at the library, trying to borrow books a week before the examinations. Make your own notes and work on your assignments on time. That should keep you relaxed."

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7. 'Should I buy a sandwich or save up for the movie?'

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You may never have charted out a budget for daily spending, but now may have to. Use your pocket money wisely. Find ways to save money wherever you can, be it on food, travel or lifestyle. Some of the ways you can save money is:

  • Take public transport. Most colleges offer a good percentage of travel concessions to students. You can avail of this facility. "It is easy to hire a rickshaw when you are late. If you ask me, why not start early from home and save that money instead?" quips Karuna Mohanty, a second year commerce student from HR College.
  • Bring a lunchbox. Eating home-cooked food is one of the best ways to save money and avoid eating out. Plus, it's healthy too. "Initially, none of my friends would get a dabba from home, thinking it was not a cool thing to do. But as time passed, spending Rs 20-30 on a frankie or grilled sandwich daily became an expensive affair. So, we started getting lunch from home and we would share it at the end of class. Each one would bring something interesting each day. It was fun, it's like having pot luck every day," shares Amruta Khandelkar, a science graduate from SIES.
  • College is also the time to try out new clothes and experiment with styles. This may sound expensive, but if you know how to play it smart, you can cut down on your shopping budget. Get creative. You can paint your old tee-shirts, or mix and match outfits to make your own style statement. Also keep an eye out for discounts. While shopping for new clothes and accessories may seem like the need of the day, you can also take advantage of offers like 'End of season sale,' 'Flat 50 percent off' etc if you keep your eyes open. "No matter how old we grow, or how rich we are, we all love to indulge in some bargaining and pick up stuff from the street. In Mumbai, places like Fashion Street and Colaba Causeway are great places to do junk shopping. You will not only save money, but also discover some cool stuff to sport," suggests Ankita Makhija, a final year commerce student from HR College.

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8. 'We're not sexist, please!'

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You are in a new environment and you are bound to be influenced. "Don't judge people too soon. Be friends with everyone," suggests Ekta Thakkar, a mass media student from S K Somaiya College in Mumbai.

Adds Nivedita Ansare, a second year science pupil from SIES College, "Choose friends who will make you feel comfortable. A lot of guys find it easier to mingle with other males in the first year and do not make too many female friends. Some of them even form anti-girls committees within the class. Later on, when you work together or have a regular chat outside the class, you realise that the girls are not that bad and even girls realise the same about boys. But by then you have already lost out on a year. So make the most of your first year. Do not get bound by smaller groups and limit your choices."

9. 'Oh, she's sooo beautiful...!'

College is also the time when you have events like Friendship Day, Rose Day, Saree and Tie Day and Valentine's Day. It's easy to get infatuated with members of the opposite sex and develop crushes.

Mehul Bhatia, a commerce graduate from KJ Somaiya College says, "Some girls dress well, some look pretty, others are good to talk to, so it is difficult to ignore them completely. Meanwhile, one needs to be careful about how to control one's emotions. By talking or behaving in a particular way, you may lose a good friend. Others take rejection seriously and do not come to college as they fear being ridiculed. It's a part and parcel of life. One should not take it seriously. It is fair enough to have a liking for someone, but only if it's mutual should you take it ahead. You should learn to deal with such situations in a mature way."

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10. 'I know more than just today's canteen specials!'

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"A lot of students do not have the habit of reading newspapers. I think it's a great way to start. You need to be aware of what is happening around you. A well-informed student easily wins over his friends. Your friends will respect you. It will also help you in your competitive exams or while appearing for a debate or elocution competition," advises Gvalani.

Agrees Principal Kohli, "If you don't have time to read the whole paper, you can start with headlines. With time, you will develop an interest and the news will definitely pull you in. It will also improve your language and grammar skills and help you hone your personality."



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