First Years, welcome to university. You are about to step into a wondrous world of back-breaking assignments, awkward attempts at making friends and mountains of weekend readings. Sounds fun, right?
In all honesty, university is what you make it, and it can be a hell of a lot of fun if you’re willing to put in the effort and paste on an approachable smile.
There’s clubs and societies to join, parties to attend and a whole host of new people to meet (which, after six years of high school you’re probably very much looking forward to).
To make the whole transition a little easier for you, we’ve put together some of our top tips for students just starting out at uni.
Good luck to everyone; remember to study hard and party even harder.
1. Check your emails in the weeks leading up to the first day
I made the mistake of not checking my new university email account before week one rolled round, and boy did I pay for it. Turns out our tutor had sent us the first week of readings that we were supposed to have completed prior to beginning uni–so I was royally fucked.
Always check your emails in the lead up to uni starting–beyond assigning readings, there actually might be some useful information in there, like what you need to bring, or which textbooks you’ll need to buy.
2. Figure out where you need to go
Prior to the first day, it’s also wise to look up where your first classes are going to be, as some universities have campuses that are spread across different streets and different areas of the city.
With apps like Lost On Campus, you’ll not only be able to find your classes, but also the nearest bathrooms, kitchens, microwaves, study rooms and more, so you’ll be getting around campus like a pro without ever having to ask somewhere where the heck you are (although this can be a good way to make new friends).
3. Don’t be late on the first day
Sounds obvious, right? Well, that didn’t stop me from taking too long to get ready, missing my bus, sprinting through Sydney CBD, missing the first fifteen minutes of my first ever class and thus having to sit down in the front row, sweaty and red and shameful.
Don’t make the same mistake I did–plan everything the night before, from transport to walking time to alarms to picking your outfit and packing your bag.
Then double and triple check all of it. You don’t want to cause yourself any more stress than necessary on the first day–the whole situation is worrisome enough.
4. Utilise your breaks and commutes
In case you weren’t aware, university has a lot of homework. Like a lot a lot. If it’s not readings, then it’s assignments, and if it’s not assignments, then it’s catching up on lectures, and if it’s not lectures, then it’s some shitty group task your tutor has assigned you.
Chances are there are going to be a few hours of break time between lectures and tutorials, and then a long commute to and from campus, so my advice to you is to use that time wisely. You’re already at university, you may as well knuckle down and do your work, so you’re free to chill out outside of uni time.
5. Take notes because your tutor is definitely going to ask you about them
Whether you’re in a lecture or working your way through a mountain of textbooks and readings, you should really take notes.
Not because it’s good for your learning, but because your tutor is definitely going to call your name in class and ask you about said lecture/reading. And you will not know the answer. And you will get pregnant, and die.
You get the picture – save yourself the public humiliation and make some quick notes on your work. It’ll be easier than going back and watching the lectures again later because you spent the whole hour online shopping.
6. Join at least one club or society
Doesn’t matter which one (the ski clubs are real riots), but just get into one that interests you and where you’ll be able to meet some like-minded folk.
It’s not always easy making friends in class and lectures, so joining a club is a sure-fire way to do this. You’ll also get a more well-rounded idea of what university life is like, plus you’ll be invited to more events and parties.
7. Get on your tutors good side–it will come in handy
Tutors are often very smart people who have connections within the industry you’re looking to get into, so it’s best to stay on their good side, because they might be able to help you out one day.
Standing out in class and actually participating will prove to them you’re enthusiastic and proactive, which means they might be able to help you when it comes time to get internships, or maybe even a job.
Don’t be afraid to ask them for help either; they might not be able to give you all the answers, but if you’re a good student then they’ll likely give you a nudge in the right direction.
8. Don’t be afraid to switch degrees–your future self will thank you
All the research you’ve done into your degree can never compare to the real-deal, and sometimes the real-deal is nothing like you expect it to be.
If you find yourself disliking your degree, you don’t have to resign yourself to hating university for the next three or four years–change it up instead. Follow another passion, try out some new subjects, change universities or even defer and take some time off if you’re struggling to figure out what you want.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with switching things up, but there is something wrong with sticking to a degree or university that makes you miserable. This is supposed to be one of the greatest experiences of your life–so try your best to make it that way.