Starting uni for the first time this year? Well buckle up – you’re in for some big changes! The first few weeks can be tough, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you navigate your way through.
First of all – congratulations! Being accepted to study at university probably required a fair amount of effort and you did it, which is awesome.
What’s also great is that you’re probably going to be studying something that you’re either a) good at, b) interested in, or c) both, in which case you’ll likely find yourself surrounded by people in your course that you have stuff in common with.
Studying at university level is challenging, without a doubt. But if you’re able to balance your priorities, stay focused and keep yourself happy and healthy then chances are you’ll do well. Yes, it’ll be challenging but the good news is you’re also in for some of the best years of your life.
Here’s a few ways you can get your uni year started on the right foot:
Get to know your campus
University campuses can be huge; some almost need their own postcode! It’s going to take a bit of time to get your bearings so take some time to get familiar with the key areas of campus such as the main buildings that your lectures are held in, the library, the student union and the cafeteria.
Most uni campuses also have a big central quadrangle area for socialising and hanging out on breaks, which is another good place to familiarise yourself with. You’ll feel heaps more confident once you’ve nailed your bearings, which will free you up for your next task – to start meeting people!
Make friends, be fearless
The first weeks of uni can be pretty scary if you know no one, and this is especially so when you’re coming from the cosy environment of high school where you know the teachers and you’ve got an established group of close pals. But remember: no one drags their mum or besty along to uni with them, so pretty much everyone else around you will be feeling exactly the same – daunted and shy.
The challenges of uni are so much easier to deal with when you’ve got a good friendship group though, so it pays to make pals. One of the best ways to make new friends is by getting involved in stuff. O-Week is a great place to start – it’s informative, fun and silly and a great breeding-ground for new friendships.
Another great way to meet like-minded new people is to head to the Student Union and sign up for one of the various clubs, groups and societies – you’ll find everything from sports to poetry, music and wine appreciation. This is the one time in your life to swallow any shyness and be more fearless than normal. You’ll be rewarded with fun times, a broader social circle, and some of the best friendships of your life.
Forget school, uni is a different beast
It’s easy to think that uni is just an extension of high school, especially if you’ve only just finished VCE. But don’t – it’s a trap. The tertiary education environment assumes independent, self-motivated study and the workload is a lot bigger than VCE. It really is up to you.
Unlike high school, you won’t have lecturers or tutors spoon-feeding or reminding you about stuff, and no one will be calling your mum if you don’t show up to lectures.
You worked to get into uni and you’ll need to put effort into staying there (and doing well).
Stay active, eat well
Once you start uni your brain will be likely working harder than it ever has, so it’s important to balance out all that mental slog with some time spent out of your head and in your body. Staying physically fit not only keeps you mentally sharp, but it’s a proven mood booster and stress reliever which means you’ll be much better placed to deal with workload and exam stress when that kicks in.
Joining the gym or a sports team at uni means you’ll be meeting new people too. Winning!
Ask for help, there’s lots of it
One thing you may not first realise about universities is that they are really well equipped to make sure that you do well. That’s right, they don’t just want to take your money and suck away your free time, universities do actually have a vested interest in you doing well and passing.
No matter what your challenge is, you can be pretty sure that there is a service on campus to help you with it. Can’t find an affordable share house or need tenancy advice? Speak to the housing department. Need a part time job to pay the bills? Speak to the careers department. Freaking out about assignments, workload or time management? Most unis have a study and learning centre with staff available for hands-on help as well as workshops on various topics such as time-management or how to research.
You’ll find help for all sorts of things from disability access and personal counselling to course and career advice. Check out your uni’s Student Services area and speak to the Student Union too.
A lot of university students might experience depression and anxiety as a result of increased workload and pressure. This is totally natural. Speak to Student Services about accessing free counselling or to see if there’s any free yoga or meditation classes on campus.