10 things I wish I knew when starting uni

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Ten things 2

Education student Mia McPhillips offers her best advice for people starting uni.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and that is so true about my first weeks at uni. There are so many things I know now that I wish I knew then. Luckily for you guys, you get the benefit of my experience.

1. Attend everything

Go to class. It’s tempting to skip, but go! Know the teacher. Nod your head during lectures to show you’re interested. Participate in discussions. Take notes. You are paying for each class. An early lesson: there can be more to grades, and life, than just raw numbers. When you skip class at university, not only are you wasting your money, but more importantly, you’re wasting this amazing opportunity to learn.

2. Use the resources

ACU offer excellent support services, such as counselling, study centers, job placement, tutoring, and computer labs. ACU also offers support to boost skills in studying, preparing for tests, selecting a major, and managing your schedule. These resources exist to help you so make the most of them.

3. Staying on top of your workload will help your course run more smoothly

Partying and having fun with new friends is so tempting it can be easy to lose momentum and fall behind with work. University will introduce a new style of teaching as there are less contact hours with your tutors and teachers, and more independent learning. Try to start your assignments as soon as they arrive as completing them early will alleviate the pressure of multiple deadlines that arrive at the same time at the end of semester. You will also have time to visit your tutors should you misunderstand something earlier on.

4. Get to know your teachers

They are important resources, and can provide a wealth of information about uni and your career. Strong bonds with teachers can lead to mentorship, letters of recommendation and, sometimes, job opportunities. Arrive to class on time. Never leave early. Participate and use office hours. Believe it or not, teachers actually enjoy when students come to their office hours. You don’t only have to discuss your upcoming exam. Pick your teacher’s brain on why they chose the field they’re in, what they like and dislike about it, and ask for any career advice.

5. Participating in non-academic activities is fun and will boost your job prospects

During Orientation Week, you will be introduced to the social side of student life and you will be given the opportunity to take part in a number of non-academic activities. Find out what clubs and societies are out there. Pick the ones that you find the most interesting, and sign-up!

6. Social media will keep you up to date

Social media will be the best source to keep up with what’s happening and when. Before you arrive follow ACU’s social media pages to discover the latest news and to share the excitement with others who will be joining you.

7. Everyone is in the same position as you

It's easy to forget that everyone there is the same as you: nervous, out of their comfort zone, and eager to make new friends. Starting uni is the time to be friendly, confident, and open to meeting new people. And you can feel less intimidated by remembering that they are in the same situation as you and will likely be grateful you reached out to them.

8. It's fine to feel overwhelmed

You get so much advice in the months before you start university that it can make you feel like you should know exactly what you're doing when you do begin. It's fine to feel completely lost. As long as you're not throwing your flatmates' saucepans across the kitchen, you're doing fine. You may be chilled and happy during the first few weeks and then be hit by a feeling of helplessness. But don’t despair, help is always available. Reach out to friends or family, or take advantage of the support services offered by ACU.

9. Have a plan but don't stick to it

You might have decided that you'll be out every night, or that you'll read up on every topic every week. This is good, plans are good, but don't let them stop you from going with the flow. There's no harm in mixing things up a little bit – you'll probably enjoy university more if you do.

10. University will fly by

These three or more years go by incredibly fast, so make the most of them. After all, when else will you be able to get away with wearing trackies every day, attend epic theme parties, and sleep until midday? Make mistakes. Enjoy it. Take chances.