Surviving First Year – Tips from Third year law student Tamé-Lee Beck


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University of Johannesburg (UJ) student Tamé-Lee Beck,19, is getting ready for her third year of studies towards her Law degree.

Choosing UJ as her university of choice was an easy decision to make. The Newlands born and bred young woman wanted a place that was close to home and also offered quality education.

“UJ does a stellar job across all faculties and departments. I was a first year back in 2020, just when Covid-19 hit South Africa. The implications of this pandemic shaped my first year experience for most of the year and changed my outlook on university life. In the beginning we still had on-campus learning, which I enjoyed immensely. I made a lot of friends and spent a substantial amount of time in the library and day residences.”

Tamé-Lee had just started to get comfortable with contact classes and her lecturers when online learning was adopted shortly after Covid-19 hit Johannesburg.

“I had to find a way to eliminate the scary feeling of isolation, remote learning and no longer being able to enjoy the amazing fries at the Student Centre. I created group chats on Whatsapp for students who were just as scared, isolated and depressed at the thought of not being able to come to campus, just like me. In these groups I would share tips and notes on how to effectively study online and to stay productive and motivated.”

Being able to work with other students helped Tamé-Lee study better and keep up with her own work.

“I started at UJ in the Humanities faculty due to space constraints in the Law faculty in 2020. Once I transferred, I made sure I did very well and I made it onto the Dean’s list and I am now a member of the Golden Key Honour Society. I have adapted very well to online learning, through my determination to get accepted to study law and by reaching out to other struggling students and helping each other. I am excited to be coming back to campus. I believe on-campus learning will restore the morale of students at UJ and motivation to study will definitely increase.”

Tamé-Lee’s tips for surviving first year:

Time Management –  “This is a fundamental skill that should be sharpened at University. Practising preparedness, organisation and punctuality is really what allows success to happen naturally.”

Use Quizlet – “This is an online flashcard website/app which really helped me achieve my distinctions and every student should use this platform.”

University is not High School – “First year is a good year to gain momentum for the rest of your respective university years, but remember that if you don’t do as well as desired, first year is not definitive of how well you will do next year so stay positive and determined!”

Pack a jacket for classes – “While it might even be 45 degrees Celsius outside, lecture halls are cold, so always have a light cardigan or jacket with you.”

Have study buddies – “Two minds are better than one and you’ll have someone to also urge you on to study and to motivate you.”

Beware of scammers – “Ignore the people on campus trying to illegally convert your NSFAS accommodation monies. When I first applied to UJ, even though I was scared, I was privileged to have my mother guide me through the process and what made it even easier was the friendly staff at UJ.”

“When I first applied, I was expecting the scariest experience – endless homework and assignments, mean lecturers who set up 10 hour exams, huge buildings I’d have to walk through all by myself. However what I experienced was the contrary in the sense that the First Year Seminar (FYS) cleared out a lot of things for me as a first year at that time and the lecturers were friendly and funny which made me want to do well. In conclusion, university is what you make it, so make it revolutionary!”

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