10 things I wish I knew when starting university

Physiotherapy student Nadia Salvati gives you the inside word on what you need to know before hitting the books.

You get a lot of advice before starting uni and it is tempting to tune it out. Here are 10 essential things that I know now that I wish I knew then.

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. 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 offers excellent support services, such as counselling, study centers, job placement, tutoring, and computer labs. ACU can also help you 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. Stay on top of your workload

Having fun with new friends is so important but it can be easy to lose momentum and fall behind with work. University will introduce a new style of teaching with less classroom time and more independent learning.  Set reminders or have a diary with all your deadlines. It's easy to forget or miss something that is due especially when you are also dealing with work, sport and a range of subjects at uni, this way you can avoid those late-night cram sessions (trust me I've fallen into that trap before).

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. Classes are not so big that you will feel invisible. Your teachers are very approachable.

5. Participate in non-academic activities - it 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!  They will also help build connections at uni and if you are in need of some support with your studies or motivation you have more people you can turn to.

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. Do not be afraid of getting to know all the students in your group or even the students in years above you in the same course. It's good knowing people because you can exchange tips, notes and help each other out with studying.

8. It's fine to feel overwhelmed

It's fine to feel completely lost. As long as you're not throwing your coffee at your friends, 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. Talk 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.



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