You may be overwhelmed by all the new faces and things you have to learn. But remember that you are all in the same situtation. Everything is new to everyone so be patient and spend your time on getting to know your course of study, the courses and your fellow students. Have faith that you will become more familiar with things as you settle in and do not get frightened if you sometimes feel lonely or challenged.
Prioritize to spend time with your new classmates and make room for your social life in your study schedule. It can be helpful to discuss how you are each doing, as many will feel the same way as you do.
Make sure that you join a study group, perhaps with just one other fellow student. This will give you a base and a chance to swap thoughts and experiences. The transition from upper secondary school to higher education is a major step, so talking to your study group can give you a sense of how others read and understand the curriculum.
Make a week schedule with all your appointments such as:
☒ Time for reading
☒ Study group appointments
☒ Training hours
☒ Social events with friends and family
Be realistic when planning and remember to make room for other activities besides your study.
A lot of students benefit from a student job that can help to structure their daily lives. This provides variation from studying, as well as a change of environment, where you do not have to perform in the same way as when you study.
It can be hard to be new, especially when you feel lonely. But it´s important to remember that it is a natural feeling that you share with many others who have just moved away from their friends and family, or have started a whole new life. It is normal to oscillate between a sense of freedom and elation and feelings of loss and despair, as you adjust to all the new aspects of your life.
Social challenges are more often the reason that students drop out of their study than challenges related to the study. Social connection at the study and other places give you some extra personnel energy.
It can feel liberating to meet your fellow students in other occasions outside the study because we often compare ourself with our classmates when we are in a study program.
Being able to structure your studies is not a talent you are born with. It´s a working method you learn during your studies. Often you will have to experiment, by replacing less appropriate habits and working methods with new techniques that match the requirements made by the educational programme.
Study planning not only concerns maintaining an overview, prioritizing and planning your studies, but also your life in general. So start by making a week-scheduel that gives you a complete overview of your studies, student job, leisure activities etc. including the things you do not have time for and that you will have to postpone until later.
This sense of planning will not only help you structure your weeks but also reduce stress.
At the Student Counselling Service, we are often contacted by students who feel under pressure to discontinue their studies because they find it hard to remember what they have learned.
If you are one of those you will probably be able to recognize this:
✔ You find that your memory has become poorer during the last semester and you are seriously worried that you may not be able to pass your examinations.
✔ In desperation, therefore, you spend more and more time studying in the hope that you will be able to remember even just a little of it?
✔ As a consequense you make no time for leisure interests and visiting friends and family.
Then listen carefully. Cause here is the key.
Reading too much is actually counterproductive as it leads you to stress.
And in time of stress your brain reacts by lowering your capacity to encode memory and your ability to retrieve information.
Your brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly 45 min) followed by spurts of low energy (15 minutes). So this is the magic productivity ratio you need to follow.
So if you really want to be productive you have to remember to take breaks.
In fact studies show that people who structure their day and keep taking short breaks troughout the day are far more productive than those who work longer hours.
Ask yourself this: Do I study with the aim of memorizing or understanding?
Most students have a curriculum of thousands and thousands of pages each semester, so they read everyting as fast as the possibly can thinking this is the most effecient way and telling themselvs that they will have time to re-read the texts before the exam.
Instead of rushing through texts and chapters spend as much times as you need in order to understand the text. Even if it means spending 20 minutes (or more) reading just one page.
When the exam comes you will discovered that you know the material much better.
In fact studies show that highlighting and rereading texts is among the least effective ways for you to remember the content of what you have read.
A far better technique is to quiz yourselves.
If you having second thoughts about whether you have picked the right course, you are not the only one. At the Student Counselling Service we see many students who are having second thoughts about their choice of studies. This is how you handle these doubts.
❶ Consider why you are having doubts
Doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. All students have doubts at one or several times during their studies. Doubts can also be positive in the sense that, once again, you are taking a serious look at your choice of studies.
Are the doubts persistent, or do they primarily appear when your studies become too demanding (up to examinations, during projects, or at the end of your studies)? If your doubts are more persistent you should, naturally, take this seriously, since this is a matter of what you will be doing for the rest of your life.
Consider whether the doubts may be due to:
• Lack of interest in the academic subject, i.e. the course content
• Problems with a teacher, co-students or with your group
• Examination nerves beyond what is normal
• Deadlock with your thesis
• Problems with finances or housing
• Personal issues that affect your studies
• You have not worked seriously enough
❷ Get information on your options
Before you decide what to do, you should get information on:
• Your current study programme and the subject you are considering changing to, i.e. the academic content, teaching methods, examination forms and opportunities to transfer credit.
• Job opportunities once the various studies have been completed.
• Opportunities to take leave.
• Consequences for your finances and housing situation of taking leave, changing your course of study or dropping out from your studies.
❸ Get advice and guidance
Via student advisers and the Internet you can get answers to many of your questions.
What should you do, if your doubts continues?
If you have been through the three stages and still have doubts, a chat with the us at the Student Counselling Service may be a good idea. We can help you to examine the reasons for and the nature of your doubts, find alternative opportunities and help you see the consequences of various choices.
During your studies you may often be required to make a presentation to a group or larger gathering. If you, like many other students, find it uncomfortable then this may help you become more aware of why you are having these feelings and what you can do about it.
Most students will be nervous and worried about making an academic presentation to their fellow students, but often this is a question of training, and you will probably find that the more you do this, the easier it gets.
You will learn to live with or tackle your nerves, so that they will be pushed into the background and you can concentrate on the content of your presentation.
For some students, fear and anxiety can be so overwhelming that they may fail to attend and take part in classes, and avoid presentations and contributing verbally in any way.
✗ I am not good enough
✗ I am afraid the others will see how uncertain/stupid/nervous I really am.
✗ My face turns bright red.
✗ I do not wish to expose myself to feedback, since it is bound to be negative.
✗ Whatever I have to say will be of no interest to others.
✗ I panic and do embarrassing things and burn all my bridges.
✗ If I speak quickly, without pausing and almost without taking a breath, it will soon be over. They will probably not even notice that I said anything.
These fears can enhance the urge to refrain from saying anything, conforming that it is "dangerous" to say anything at all. As a consequence, you never experience how positive and affirmative it can be to express your opinions verbally. If this is how you feel, it can be a good idea to try to understand the underlying reasons.
Knowing the reasons for your reluctance to speak is not always sufficient. You may also need help to break the vicious circle, which requires you to start to exercise and train your skills. This you can do in one of our groups, where you meet students that fight the exact same battle as you.
Most students will suffer from examination nerves during the course of their studies. Ordinary, moderate nervousness can be an advantage, as it focuses your attention and drives you to make an extra effort and thus perform better.
As a new student, it can be hard to accept lower grades than you are accustomed to. You may have been one of the best at your upper secondary school, and now you are just one among many accomplished students. Some students may see this as a personal, rather than an academic, shortcoming.
Your test anxiety may be related to the wrong choice of studies and a lack of motivation to make the required effort - or academic problems of one type or another. You are therefore nervous about the examination because you are not properly prepared for it.
If you are highly motivated, you may not yet have learned how to absorb the reading material, due to a less effective study structure and reading technique.
Many students who suffer from examination nervesy are prone to perfectionism and thereby often also performance anxiety. They make very high demands of themselves in every situation. This puts them at greater risk of failure, which can increase their anxiety.
In this case, it is not enough to consider examinations in isolation. You must also relate to how you experience yourself and others. Perfectionism often conceals low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence.
If you face severe personal problems such as relationship problems, serious illness or a family bereavement, during the period up to your examination, this will naturally affect your preparations and examination performance.
In this case, your examination nerves are probably not a question of whether you have prepared for the examination, but of whether you have had the peace of mind that is needed prior to an examination.
❶ Study during the day and take the evenings off. You need a clear separation of study time and leisure time
❷ Study for specific periods of time, rather than by the number of pages or chapters you cover
❸ Do not skip breaks from studying. We recommend reading/writing with regular breaks, such as reading/writing for 45 minutes, followed by 15-minute breaks. No more and no less. This is the optimum division for your brain and concentration skills (45 minutes). Then you need a break (15 minutes) to process what you have learned, but also to prepare for the next round of reading/writing
❹ Spend your breaks away from the computer or other input that requires brain power - and away from Facebook, mails, text messages, etc.
❺ Be physically active during breaks
❻ Find out where you study best. Is this at home, at the library, at a café or elsewhere? Do you need complete quiet, or may there be other people around you?
❼ Consider a study buddy/study group you can use to check that you have understood what you have studied.
❽ Spend ten minutes a day on focusing on what you have achieved that day. This turns your focus away from the long list of things you have not yet covered, but which were perhaps also too difficult to complete.
❾ Consider what you require or expect of your family, boyfriend/girlfriend and friends and tell them what your requirements and expectations are. Will you tell them, for example, when you will be taking the examination?
On the day before the exam day itself, most students benefit from carefully considering the examination conditions:
✔ Where will the examination take place?
✔ What time does it start?
✔ How long does it take?
✔ Is preparation time included
Try to visualise how you will take the exam and stay focused on what you know and not on any "holes" in your knowledge.
✔ Read through the whole paper. This gives you an overview, so you know what you have to do.
✔Start with the questions that seem to be the easiest.
✔Continue to the next question if you get stuck, as you can always go back to the question later.
✔Movement and a change of air can also help you to concentrate.
When preparing for an oral exam, it is important that you practise speaking about your subject, either alone or within your study group. There is a big difference between knowing something and communicating that knowledge in your own words.
✔See the examination as a conversation - the teacher and examiner are there to guide you.
✔ If you are nervous, say so.
✔ Ask for a difficult question to be repeated or reworded.
✔ If you are uncertain of whether what you are thinking is correct, say it anyway. This is better than not saying anything.
✔ If you experience stage fright, tell the teacher and examiner about this.
If you fail an exam, remember that even though this may seem like the end of the world, this is not the case. Many students fail one or several exams during the course of their studies.
A diary is important, so that the group can develop its "memory".
When important decisions are taken, to make sure that everyone has a chance to put their views.
Make the group's meeting and working rules very concrete, with a fixed framework, to ensure discipline. If the framework is fuzzy, the group may become too vulnerable.
The role of minute-taker and chair should rotate - otherwise these roles will always be held by the same people.
Decide whether you wish to have majority decisions or unanimity - otherwise the stronger members will decide everything.
Discuss what you expect of each other within the group, socially and academically. If these expectations are less clear, frustrations and confusion may arise.
Discuss how you share the work within the group and evaluate this on an ongoing basis - otherwise you will not get enough benefit from each others' contributions.
Produce working papers, also as drafts/keywords/essays for each other, so that you always have a sense of progress being made.
Otherwise you risk losing group members and significant inputs.
Take time to stop and reflect on how far you have come within the project.
At the Student Counselling Service we meet many students who experience stress for shorter or longer periods of their student lives. But the factors that lead to stress, and our propensity to become stressed, are individual.
Stress-provoking factors include external pressures such as change, insecurity, responsibility and too many tasks, as well as illness, perfectionism and the high demands we make of ourselves.
❶ You find it hard to sleep.
❷ You withdraw from friends and family.
❸ You are sad. You do not enjoy your free time.
❹ You find it difficult to concentrate.
❺ You worry. You are restless. You experience inner turmoil and/or inexplicable anxiety.
❻ You are physically tense, with tension headaches, for example.
There is no miracle cure for stress, but many small concrete steps can make a big difference. Here are some suggestions:
☑ Get an overview of the coming day, or week, and be realistic about what you can achieve.
☑ Practise saying no, and learn to say that something does not matter.
☑ Structure your day.
☑ If you worry about disasters occurring: Think them through to their logical conclusion - which will turn out to be unrealistic.
☑ Make sure you eat properly, and get plenty of sleep and exercise.
☑ Find out what helps to recharge your batteries. Dancing, running or music? Do more of this.
☑ Express how you feel.
☑ Ask people around you for help.
☑ Do one thing at a time.
☑ Think in terms of nuances - rather than "either-or" and "black and white".
☑ Do some tension-relieving exercises.
To know more about stress and exercises that can help you to reduce or eliminate stress read our leflet on stress or call us on 70 26 75 00 find out how we can get you.