For many 2017 school leavers, the beginning of their first university, college or TAFE semester is looming. If you have already secured your place – congratulations! If not, good luck in the next couple of rounds. Wherever you’re at, you might be feeling a range of different emotions. We’ve put together some tips to help you get off to a smooth start.
Attending university, college or TAFE straight from school can be daunting, but it’s also an exciting time. For many students, leaving the comfort and structure of school is challenging. You may not know anyone and go from seeing your friends every day to potentially having to make new friends. In addition, lecturers and tutors don’t generally chase you for your work, check up on your progress, or worry about whether or not you’ve attended their lectures. That’s up to you. Here’s our tips for ensuring a smooth start and surviving that first semester:
- Get yourself to class – this isn’t high school and no one is going to really care if you don’t turn up to lectures. You need to motivate yourself to do that.
- Don’t be afraid to change – just because you start a particular course doesn’t mean you’re bound to complete it. Many students just don’t enjoy their initial choice. You’re better off exploring your options sooner rather than later. Speak to a student adviser – you may be able to re-structure your units to avoid a transfer, or if you decide to transfer they can advise you how to go about it.
- Get organised – keep on top of work and study otherwise you may face significant stress during the hectic end of semester period. By establishing a routine early on, you’ll better balance your studies, social life and work commitments. Decide when you’ll study each week and try to stick to it. Review your schedule each week and ensure you’ve allowed enough time for revision and assignment preparation.
- Learn to learn – it’s important to become an independent learner. Your study is going to be more self-driven than before. No one is going to remind you about homework or assignments so keep track of due dates and manage your workload to ensure success.
- Ask for help – lectures and classes can be intimidating, sometimes with hundreds of people all sitting in the one room, but you should never be ashamed to ask for help. Most universities and TAFEs have great websites where you may find the answer to your question, otherwise student support services provide counselling, financial and academic advice; or your lecturers, tutors and fellow classmates are usually only too happy to help!
- Use your free time wisely – this is especially important if you have large breaks during on-campus days. Rather than leaving, stay on site and visit the library or use the time to read / study / complete assignments etc. The earlier you complete things, the less stress you’ll face later. Keeping up with deadlines and reviewing your notes as you go is a great way to utilise any breaks between lectures. If you have a late start, rather than sleeping in, set the alarm and get up early to review your notes or do some exercise.
- Stay healthy – by eating well, getting enough sleep, and ensuring you fit in some exercise. This is important to ensure you don’t become burnt out. If you’re finding it hard to maintain your regular fitness regime, investigate what’s available on campus or team up with new friends to organise walks or runs during breaks. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, and use bulk meal preparation to ensure you always have healthy food on hand that isn’t time consuming to prepare.
- Budget – you’ve probably increased your expenses since school with socialising, a car, and possibly even rent. This means budgeting is important – buy second hand books (then sell them once you’ve finished with them), take advantage of student discounts, take your lunch from home, and swap expensive social activities for cheaper ones. Don’t forget to take advantage of all the student discounts and freebies on offer as well.
- Make time for yourself – you know the drill, all work and no play isn’t the best idea so whether you take time out to relax, exercise or socialise – you need some downtime. It will help you concentrate better when you are studying.
- Get involved – university and TAFE campuses are often huge places with thousands of people, so you might need to get a little out of your comfort zone. Join a club or group of like-minded people and you might meet your new best friend! At the very least, getting involved on campus will help you settle in and activities or groups that align with your area of study will look great on your resume.
Most importantly enjoy and make the most of this time. Learning to manage your new schedule and demands will help make the transition to tertiary study smoother. Take advantage of all the resources available to you and enjoy meeting new friends.