- Course Start Date:

You may have received information about your start date when you interviewed with the college or by letter, text or email from the college after you accepted a place on the course.  In addition, most college web sites will feature an "academic calendar" or "term dates" section that you can check to find out when classes will begin and when your breaks will be. Classes usually begin around the third or fourth week of August, but check with your college to make sure you know when to turn up. 

- Induction:

Induction in college is usually quite an informal process. You'll meet your tutors and get to know your new classmates. There may be lots of icebreakers and a bit of fun to make everyone feel more comfortable. You may feel impatient to "just get on with it", but keep in mind that some of your classmates may appreciate having a bit of time to get used to the environment before the assignments and deadlines start rolling in. The first week or so of college is a time for everyone to settle in, find their feet and prepare for the year ahead. Enjoy the process and rest assured that the "real" work is just around the corner.

- SWAP Induction: 

Some time during the first few weeks of the academic year, a member of the SWAPWest team will visit your class to induct you into SWAP formally. You will be asked to register as a SWAP student 
before we visit; your college tutor will help you with this. The induction is a chance for you to meet the SWAPWest staff and to find out more about what it means to be a SWAP student. If you have any lingering questions about the programme, you will be able to get them answered at induction. 

- Financial Support

If you  haven't already submitted your forms to claim your college bursary, you should do so as soon as possible. You can also make an appointment with your college's student finance office and/or advisers to make sure you know what you are entitled to claim - e.g. college hardship and childcare funds, Child and/or Working Tax Credits, Disabled Students Allowance, etc. 
- Council Tax Exemption or Reduction 

Most city Councils will provide some relief for full-time students at college or university. If you are the only adult in the house and you are in full-time education, you may qualify for exemption from paying Council Tax for the duration of your course. If you live with other adults who are not students, you may qualify for a reduction in the amount of Council Tax you pay.
Check with your local Council Tax office to find out. If you qualify, you'll need to fill out a form and have it stamped or endorsed by the college to confirm your student status. 

Things to think about: 
- Study Skills

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you should arrive at the college already fully equipped with all of the study skills you need to be successful. You are a student, not an expert. No one expects you to know everything already, and you will learn new things and pick up new skills as you go along. 

- Academic Support

If you feel the need to get some extra one-on-one support with written assignments, numeracy or computer skills, you'll be glad to know that help is freely available from staff within your own college. They may be called "Effective Learning Advisers" or "Student Learning Support" or something similar, and it is their job to help you develop the academic study skills you will need for successful study. 
What you can do: 
  • Drop in to your college's student support centre to pick up information about the support services offered.
  • Ask about workshops that may be offered at the beginning of the term. Check the college web site, as well as flyers posted around campus or advertised on your college's Moodle/Blackboard.
  • Make an appointment with one of your college's advisers to discuss any concerns you have about your writing, your numeracy or any other academic skills. 

- Preparation for Higher Education (Prep for HE)

You will soon be introduced to a very important unit that is a requirement of the SWAP programme: the Preparation for Higher Education unit.

Beginning in September, you will begin completing exercises and keeping a study diary that will help you become prepared for university-level study in time for September of next year. Completion of the Preparation for Higher Education unit is compulsory. It is also the best way for you to make sure that: 
                     * you get the most out of your learning opportunities
                     * you make the right choice of course and university
                     * your application to university is as good as it can be
                     * your study skills are strong
                     * you feel confident about moving on to university
Check the timeline on this page every month to ensure that you are completing each of the Prep for HE exercises in good time.
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