How to survive your first year of university.

The most daunting experience of my life so far was the first day at university. After being amongst the biggest and oldest students in high school, stepping out into the next stage of my education meant returning straight to the bottom of a brand new social ladder. Would I fit in? Could I make friends? Would class be similar to high school? So many of my questions needed answering, yet I had no idea who I should have asked. Normally you would seek advice from your parents or siblings that have done their fair share of tertiary education, sadly though I am an only child devoid of siblings, and I am the first in my family to start my career with a bachelors degree.

During high school, the teachers would continuously say, “everything we are doing for you now, will prepare you for university.” Well I’m sorry Ms. Hedges, but you were wrong. Although I appreciate the thought, nothing in high school could have prepared me for university life.

If you’re the first time attending university, congratulations and take note to this post. I will outline a few helpful tips to get your through your first year without having to panic… much.

If you have decided to attend a school which required you to move out of home, find a house or apartment that isn’t surrounded by constant noise pollution. Although parties are a plus at university, when it comes to your assignments and study, they become a negative. If you move into campus accommodation  be prepared for parties. Most on-campus accommodation will have raging parties that last well into the morning. Whilst I was living on campus there was a party nearly every night, and after three years it got old very quickly. My advice is that if you do attend a local university that is easy to get to by public transport, then delay moving out of home until you graduate. You will save loads of money, have peace and quiet for study, and still have your mum to pick you up when you’re stuck in a sticky situation.

Once you find out that you’ve been accepted into your desired degree, find out which courses you need to take as soon as you can. Don’t delay enrolment for the semester until the last minute. If you do then you’ll be stuck with classes that don’t suit your lifestyle and happen to be at 8am (or worse 7pm) that most people only take because they work full-time whilst studying. Class enrolments literally go by the saying ‘first in, best dressed’.

Right, now we have a place to live and we’re enrolled in our classes we must then tackle note taking. Note taking is the most important thing you will ever do in class or lectures. Why? It may be a life saver for your assignments and exams. Sometimes, lecturers will provide lecture notes for you, and if they do provide you with them, find them through your student portal (which is where all your assignments and study charts are kept) and print them. I like to print two slides to a page, double sided, just so I have plenty of room to write notes, but some people like to do six. The point is, it doesn’t matter how many slides to a page you have, just so long as they are printed and your able to still take notes and read them. If you don’t want to waste paper, then download them and note take on your laptop or tablet. I’ve recently converted to note taking on my iPad, but still keep a hard copy as a back-up option.

As you may have gathered by now, you’re going to have loads of paper floating around. There are many ways we can organise this, but today I will only provide you with two. The first is you can staple whole lecture notes together and place them in a plastic sleeve in order of date and subject; or you can bind them into a book. In my opinion, binding them is a genius move. Once I discovered how to use that amazing little machine in the library, I was turning all my lecture notes into lecture books. Normally the binding machines are found in the library and the librarians can teach you how to use them. Remember though that when binding, do a practice job on some scrap paper to avoid mistakes.

When it comes to assignments and exams, do not leave it until the last minute. Midnight cram sessions and overnight essays can either result in failure or just scraping by. Make study a priority no matter how much you hate it. An hour or two a day can go a very long way in the end.

Finally, making friends. Don’t worry about this at all, because you will make friends in your course. Out of the thousands of people that attend your local uni, the most likely case is someone will have the same interests as you. Don’t go to uni feeling like you need to fit in. Over thinking and worrying only make you feel like there is something wrong, when the most likely case is, you’re doing everything right. Be yourself.

I hope this has helped! If you have any other suggestions or tips, feel free to leave a comment.

Stay beautiful.


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