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Top Five Tips for Starting College

1. It’s up to you

Learning at college is different to school - it’s in your hands and you’ll get out of it exactly what you put in. The perks are that you can take responsibility, be flexible and work in a way that suits you with little input from your lecturers. However, this also means no one is going to push you to work harder. Your short-comings will be your own so think about planning your time, getting involved in lessons and asking for help when you need it.

2. Plan your time

Get yourself a planner! Colleges are a supportive environment but can be more similar to universities than schools. The approach to learning is more self-led so it’s important to organise your time. This even includes knowing when your classes are. There are no bells or alarms to tell you the time and everyone will have classes starting at varying times, so familiarise yourself with your personal timetable.

3. College and life balance

At college, you’ll make new friends and try new things so make sure you work on balancing your social life and college life. It may sound boring, but use your free periods! The more coursework and revision you do during college hours, the more free time you have to enjoy over the evening and weekends.

4. Make sure you pick the college AND course that is right for you

All colleges are different. Yes, some have big campuses and some are smaller. But also check that the college is right for you in different ways! Is it easy to travel to? What is the student support like? Do they offer extracurricular activities that suit you? Did you have a positive experience at the Open Day? Were the tutors nice? Can they support your individual needs? The same goes for choosing a course. Is it a course you have chosen for yourself? Do you feel confident in the course content? Are you excited to get started? All of these questions can inform whether you’ve made the right choice. Colleges usually will support you to switch courses in most cases, even if you’re a couple of weeks in, so don’t panic!

5. Lastly, don't panic, everyone feels the same!

No matter how calm and collected other people look, chances are that they feel the same as you. Nerves are normal. Be prepared for your first day and go with it. You’ve got this! But be sure to look after your mental health and talk to family and friends about how you are feeling if you’re having doubts. Life doesn’t always go to plan, so remember there is always a plan B (or C, or D!).

If you do need to speak to someone, don't forget our Youth Hub team and CSW are on hand, Monday to Thursday throughout September between 10am-4pm on the first floor of Barclays in Plymouth City Centre. Alternatively, sign up as a member here and we'll be in touch.


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