Careers Advice: Your First Year at University

An article by Richard James Rogers (Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management)

Illustrated by Sutthiya Lertyongphati

Students all around the world are approaching the final sprint to their terminal examinations right now. Whether its ‘AS’ or ‘A’ – Levels, IB Diploma exams, SATs or IGCSE’s, students and teachers all over the world are feeling the pressure. 

However, one thing that can be overlooked at this time is good-quality careers advice for students who will soon (6 months in some cases) be at university starting their first of a degree programme. 

And yet, this careers advice is probably the most important facet of this approach to the exam apocalypse. Students need to feel excited by going to university now. They need to know why they’re working so hard for their final exams in the first place (the purpose). They need to have a dream; a goal, to work for.

“This is a great book for teachers who are struggling to get to grips with their busy teaching schedule”UKEdChat Book Review

Have you sat down with each of your final year students to find out what their dreams are? I promise you – you’ll be very surprised at what comes from this.

And then, what do you do? You reinforce the importance of each dream, as often as you can. “Debbie, I know you’re going to be a great drummer one day. The best. We will work together to get you to Birmingham City to start your music degree”. “John, I’m so pleased with this vectors homework you did. You put so much effort into this. You will use this material when you’re studying engineering at Loughborough. I know you’ll make it. Keep working hard. Keep up the excellent work”.

Do you know what effect comments like these can have on your students? They can be life-changing!

For my next book, I have compiled advice from 100 young graduates who have studied at universities all over the world. Many of these graduates are my former students.

Going to university is a massive learning curve for many students

Take a look at these extracts below:

Name: Orachitr Bijaisoradat

Latest accomplishment: Ph.D in Polymer Science. The petroleum and petrochemical college, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Advice to freshmen

1. Make lots of friends and be sociable. Some students may struggle at the first term of uni but you will feel much better if you work as a team and help each other by sharing your knowledge. And knowing lots of people will help with connections for your future career. Sometimes connections are more important than grades.
2. Plan ahead. It is okay if you don’t know what you want to be when you graduate but it is best to plan so that you can have everything prepared for your next step. For example, if you plan to continue a master’s degree, what are the requirements that you need to prepare. If you want to apply for the top 10 famous universities but your GPA is lower than the requirement, then you won’t be able to apply.

Students are required to take ownership of their learning at university

Name: Mintra Rungruengsorakarn

Bachelor’s Degree in Music from University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music, Class of 2015
Master’s Degree in Music from Mannes School of Music, The New School, New
York, Class of 2017

Advice for freshmen: 
There were many things that happened during my studies in the United
States in the past five years and a half. Those memories and experiences were all valuable regardless of any rises and falls. As a second year Master’s student, I am here to share with you my advice from a perspective of someone who has graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree and is on her way to finishing her Master’s.

Here is some advice I would like to give:

‘Time’ is precious, and it is the only treasure that everyone has equally. Use your time wisely, the better you manage your time the better advantage you have over others. Four years in a university is so short that you will be out of school before you know it. Secondly, be sure to know your responsibilities and realize how fortunate you are to be in school. School prepares you for the real world, as you are being exposed to new surroundings learn to adjust as soon as you can and stay strong, be positive and optimistic.

Do not start your new life with a goal to just graduate and leave. You need to strive and look for opportunities which are plenty out there, embrace the experiences which make you grow and never forget to consistently work hard. Appreciate the gift of ‘today’ and do your best so that you will not regret when you look back. For whichever route you are taking, there will always be certain things you would wish to have done better. However, that will always be alright.

Take risks and be spontaneous. Live life to the fullest while being generous and kind. Be happy and enjoy life. Be fearless and have faith, believe in yourself that you are capable and that nothing is ever impossible.

Collaboration is key. Do your high school students collaborate enough?

What advice would you give to a final year high school student who wants to go to uni?

Check out my next book, to be published on March 31st:




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High School Science and Mathematics Teacher, Author and Blogger. Graduated from Bangor University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Molecular Biology and a PGCE in Secondary Science Education. Richard also holds the coveted Certificate in Mathematics from the Open University (UK). Richard is the award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know

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