Taking the (Mental) Leap: A Mental Checklist for University

A big congratulations to all of the seniors of Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing) who will graduate on June 6, 2019. Even though International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) results are not available until July, we have received 40 offers from universities around the world in places such as the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Beijing. The hard work and dedication of our students has paid off, and we are looking forward to the future as our students prepare for life at university.

To download YCIS Beijing’s complete list of university acceptances so far, please click here

On the subject of preparing for university, we’ve been speaking a lot to YCIS Beijing University Guidance Counsellor Jonathan Mellen. Last week he offered advice to help international students pack their bags for university and this week he’s back with tips to help students prepare their minds. Here is his mental checklist for graduates, a ‘Mental Packing List’ if you will for the big leap out of the nest and into university.

Mental Packing List


1. Growth Mindset: Keep an open mind and know you will face unforeseen challenges. Don’t fear this, but be prepared to try to learn from every challenge and set back. These challenges can become opportunities for personal and intellectual growth.

2. Flexible Attitude: Entering university will be in many ways like entering an entirely new world. You will encounter new cultures, norms and ways of doing things. It’s important that you come prepared to compromise, this will help minimise conflict, culture shock and frustration.

3. Moderate Expectations: Manage your expectations. University will be a big exciting change, but it might not live up to all of your hopes. Try to avoid mentally mapping your college experience before you have even started classes. It’s impossible to know what the next few years will hold, and it’s advisable to take things as they come.

4. Clear Sense of Self: Accept who you are and throw out any plans to remake yourself or adopt a new (false) persona at university. Knowing and accepting who you are is the best tool in making decisions in your best interest. If you need help understanding who you are, try taking a personality test and making a list of your strengths and weaknesses. This should help you start to see yourself more clearly.


5. Clear Goals: Write down your main reason for going to university along with some S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals you have for your university career. Keep this list of over-arching goals somewhere you can easily access it. This list can serve as a compass for you at university, helping you to remember why you are there, what you ultimately want to achieve, and keeping you from getting lost in the broad new world you are about to enter.

6. Social Plans: Prepare to have fun! Research the groups on campus you are interested in and make contact. Try to establish a connection before you arrive, so you have people to connect with when you get there. The school’s website and online searches for the relevant social media accounts are good places to start. Even if you are an introvert, don’t skip this step. It’s ok to keep your social plans minimal, but social interaction outside of classes and dormitory life can help you manage stress and avoid isolation.

7. Budget: This one is far too often overlooked. Sit down with your parents, review the money you will have access to (whether through a job or your parents’ support) and make an itemised list of all the expenses you will face. Try to think of everything, yes even the non-academic costs, to avoid stressful, unexpected financial surprises. (Start with the basics: books, school supplies, activities, food, entertainment, transportation, etc.)

8. Personal Care Skills: Maybe you have been lucky enough to have an Ayi your whole life, or your parents were just super in taking care of all of your home needs, but now you are heading out on your own. Learn to do laundry and cook basic foods, practice washing dishes, be sure you are clear on how often you need to change your towels and bed sheets (hint: once a week is advisable). No one will be around to take care of your personal hygiene and care needs, you need to be up to the task. 


In closing YCIS Beijing University Guidance Counsellor Jonathan Mellen would like to leave you with two pieces of parting advice:

“Attitude is the most important thing you will bring with you anywhere you go, university is no different. This is something no one can give you, only you can cultivate this within yourself.”

“Responsibility is fostered within. People can give you tips and guidance, but it’s up to you to develop these traits.” 

We hope you found YCIS Beijing’s ‘Mental Packing List’ for university helpful. We wish all graduates the absolute best as they head to university!

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