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Throughout the many years since the beginning of formal institutionalised education the ‘’fresher’’ has never changed. They all come from different backgrounds different schools, some with high quality education such as A-levels or O-levels and some with normal NSC education and of cause they also come in different shapes and sizes.

Making it into a well ranked institution is every fresher’s pride. Most walk around campus carrying not only their large school bags and brand new student cards around their necks but also a “6 distinctions” pride that has them feeling untouchable. It is a very good achievement to pass matric which such marks don’t get me wrong and it deserves to remain ones pride for as long as University allows. Very few past fresher’s will deny how quickly their prides had been humbled by their first class tests. For most it is a very traumatic experience because they are not used to doing so bad academically. But for some elite students their first class test at university is business as usual, they continue to excel no matter what the Profs throw at them. The main reason why most new university students perform poorly in their first class tests in university is because of the difference in standards between university and high school. It is also the “know -it­-all-mentality” that leads to under preparation, it happens to the best of us, I am talking from first-hand experience.


It is no secret that the high school syllabus is a lot easier than the university syllabus. The South African high school syllabus to be specific. Most varsity students who were top students at their high school would often tell me that the high school syllabus did not challenge them at all — what nerds. So the for the first time in their lives they would finally be challenged by a ruthless opponent known as university. Some of these top students maintain the grades that they have been getting in high school through hard work and some because of their advanced syllabus e.g. most first year courses are a repeat for some A-level and O-level students. Some drop their grades a little, say maybe from an A average to a B or C average. The first class test is always hard for most students and is usually a wakeup call. It is not supposed to be taken as a measurement of your ability to learn. In the past there have been student who have given up or changed courses within the first few weeks of school because of the increased workload and fast speed of lectures.  Hopefully this will not be happening to you. There is always a greater improvement in marks in the second class test. The opposite can also happen, like if you do really well in your first class test you may begin to underestimate the work and slack in the second class test.

To be honest the method of studying in university is not much different to that of high school its just that university requires more effort on your behalf. Such as to study longer than you usually did and keep up with assignments that come from different courses and being responsible; since nobody is there to tell you what to do. Other than that the process is the same, you have to attend all your lectures as you would attend all your classes in high school and attend all your tutorials as you would attend after school classes in high school. The first class test syndrome is not necessarily a negative thing. It is just a confusing period of time were a student contemplates the use of continuing with their studies after a horrible first class test, sometimes it forces a student to study harder and miracles are seen in the second class test. It also guides a student to what they actually should be studying maybe a student had been studying hard but focussing on the wrong parts of the course which leads to them having misconceptions about their course work. It is all just a learning process even though we do not like it when course starts to chow hard.

Hopefully you will have a much better first class test experience than I have had and continue to chow course as you did in high school.

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