'˜Tis the season of colourful shirts, fresh faces and a welcome buzz on campus as first-year students were introduced to university life during the first phase of faculty orientation programmes this week.
The Faculties of Health Sciences and Engineering & the Built Environment welcomed their freshers, while the balance of the new Humanities and Commerce freshers also started their inductions.
The bright - and in some cases bleary - eyed students (4 735 freshers are expected to register this year) were welcomed by orientation leaders - senior students who guide the greenhorns through the university's administrative and academic systems. It's not all filling in forms, though.
Upper Campus resounded with singing and chanting as students geared up for a week of campus tours and curriculum advice sessions, and took the opportunity to get to know each other.
Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo had some "words of wisdom" for first-years attending the first Humanities programme: "Don't blow it."
Reminding the students of their privileged position at one of the world's leading higher education institutions, Nhlapo said: "You are embarking on absolutely the most amazing phase of your life. Use this opportunity to the fullest."
Nhlapo also encouraged students to interact with people from different racial, gender, religious and geographical backgrounds.
"There is now scientific evidence that diversity produces better results," he said. "Make friends across [these] lines."
University, added Nhlapo, was also an opportunity for students to challenge themselves intellectually: "This is where you get to flex your thinking muscle."
Edwina Brooks, the director of student development in UCT's Department of Student Affairs (DSA), wished the students well in their fledgling university careers.
"The next few weeks are important for you as you adjust to university life. The university is huge, and it's very easy to get lost. I want to encourage you to ask for help from very early on in your university life. You will find that you will not be able to get through entirely on your own, and the DSA offers services to help you," advised Brooks
Nommangaliso Gondwe, Students' Representative Council president for 2014, urged students to try to be "well-rounded graduates".
"Don't just graduate with a degree," said Gondwe. "Graduate with an education."
Text: Yusuf Omar. Image: Michael Hammond.
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