Originally written in Dutch for Veto by Mathilde Dams, translated to English for The Voice by Gwynne van Kaauwen
You are in Leuven to study, but there is of course more to do than just studying. Look for involvement where you learn more than during the lectures. Become a member of a circle (i.e. “kring”) or free association, or commit yourself completely to the scouts or Chiro. Find a way to develop your skills for the workplace, make sure you learn more in Leuven than only theory.
In order to process the learning materials, use the tools that are handed to you; the student support (i.e. “monitoraat”), peer assisted learning, exercises or examples of exams on Toledo… I cannot comprehend how many students do not use this. And certainly do not get discouraged by success rates or statistics about study delays. You will not get happy looking at those, but the ones who are timely and actively occupied with the learning materials have much better projections.
First and foremost; enjoy your first weeks. When it becomes time for the practice exams, take these seriously. And after the practice exams, it's time to start studying.
Take your studies seriously, but not too seriously. Something I had been looking forward to from my first year was the Erasmus exchange. This was one of the highlights of my study career, I made some very good friends. I would advise everyone to go for it. I really liked to get to know many new people at the university anyway.
Focus 100% on studying and participating, but focus 200% on having a good time. It’s over before you know it!
It’s not shameful to fail and there is room for that too at the university. Look at it as an opportunity to do better.
Determine for yourself from the very beginning what your goals are and what you enjoy doing. I, and many like me, had a tendency to do too much because it’s perceived to be part of the student life. But you don’t have to conform yourself to any student standard. Your student time will remain a golden time, it’s best to find out what sustainably makes you happy.
As a new student there is a lot coming at you and it isn’t always easy to find your way. Our advice: get out of your “kot”, meet fellow students and go to one of the many social activities. Also try to take care of each other and listen when you notice that a fellow student is struggling.
At the university, everyone starts from the bottom. Good grades in high school don’t simply result in the same grades in higher education. Start on time with studying, because squeezing everything in your head in one week rarely ever works.
Find yourself a lover who takes good notes.