You’ve graduated from high school and had an absolute blast during your break, but now university orientation is looming and you’re starting to wonder what studying at university is really like. Sound familiar?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with 7 Tips for Starting University.

1. Take Responsibility For Yourself

We’re not in Kansas anymore… or high school. University is often the start of your life as an adult. It’s time to stop relying on your parents for everything and get (mostly) serious about your studies and your future.

High school is a time when your parents will still help you prepare meals, get you from A to B, and keep you accountable for studying, but once you start at university, it’s your responsibility to manage your time and workload.

  • You are responsible for your grades and your outcome.
  • You are responsible for showing up to class.
  • You are responsible for your time.
  • You are responsible for your workload.

You’ve got this!

2. Get Involved

The students who get the most out of their time at university are the students who attend events and form lifelong friendships. Participating in university life can help you manage your time better, build a support network if you’re struggling and make memories that will last a lifetime.

If you’re living at college, make sure you join sporting teams and participate in social events, and even if you aren’t, you can still participate in Guild Events, join clubs and societies, engage in a range of volunteer and sporting activities.

Here are some helpful links:

University of Western Australia

Curtin University

University of Notre Dame Australia

Murdoch University

Edith Cowan University

3. Take advantage of all of the services available

You would be surprised at how many services (many free!) are available to university students, either as part of the Guild, college or university itself.

For example, at St Thomas More College, students have a free on-site gym, academic tutoring, quiet study rooms, mentoring, leadership programs and more. Students can also apply for scholarships.

At the University of Western Australia, students can access their incredible libraries (even if you’re studying at an alternative university), food outlets, fitness classes, counselling and even financial grants.

4. Get your study/life balance right

Movies often paint the illusion that your time at university is full of toga parties and sleep in’s, and while university is certainly a time for enjoyment and soaking up the last years before you begin your career, it is important to ensure you dedicate enough time to your studies.

This often requires a little self-discipline, so prepare a rough schedule in advance and plan study and preparation time in your calendar. Keep it as if you would keep a Doctor’s appointment or a part-time job roster.

Keep abreast of your studies, and if your results aren’t as high as you’d like, review your schedule and adjust accordingly.

5. Reduce overwhelm

Studying at university is a big change. For 13 years at school you’ve had a predictable routine, and as we mentioned in our first point, as you enter adulthood and university, this routine has been shaken up.

Many students often plan to live out of home too, either out of necessity or because they’re seeking freedom, but sometimes this can result in a significant amount of overwhelm and stress. Buying furniture, connecting utilities, preparing and cooking all meals, rent inspections and house/garden cleaning and maintenance, amongst other things, can result in poorer grades and compromised mental health.

One option is to consider living at college where many of these items are taken care of (including all meals). College students have more time to focus on study, and receive a number of other opportunities for social events, community volunteering and outings.

Another way to reduce overwhelm is to prepare in advance. Nothing spells stressed like your alarm not going off on the first day, followed by either catching the wrong bus or not being able to find a car park on campus. Here are some tips for reducing overwhelm:

  • Use an app like Timetable to plan your schedule.
  • Enter your alarms for every day (and two follow up alarms in case you try to hit snooze and hit dismiss instead!)
  • Take a trial run trip to university and check the times of public transport departure
  • Place credit on your SmartRider Card
  • Get your study desk organised
  • Go on a stationery shopping spree and purchase your books
  • Check out the meal options on campus (you don’t need to worry about this is you live at college) or head to Pinterest to check out make-ahead options that you can bring with you

6. Show up

If we could give you only one tip to succeeding at university, it’s this: go to class and pay attention. University is very different to school. Nobody will chase you up if you don’t attend. And sometimes that sleep in is reaaallllyyy tempting, but consistently showing up to your lectures and tutorials helps because:

  • It is time you are dedicating to studying, without too much planning. If you skip a lecture, then you have to make it up later online, or worse, you’ll skip it altogether and come unstuck during exam period
  • Often lecturers will mention additional facts during lectures and tutorials that won’t be available in the notes
  • If you’re already there, you may as well add on an hour to spend in the library working on assignments and study
  • You have the chance to ask questions if you don’t understand (and this brings us to our next point…)

7. Get help if you need it

Sometimes asking for help can require a lot of courage. There is a common perception that asking for help can appear weak or incompetent. Furthermore, studies have shown that people often grossly underestimate their capacity to receive help when needed.

However it is the opposite, in fact that is true. Multiple studies (including some conducted by the University of Georgia and Harvard Business School) have consistently shown that one of the biggest differentiators between exceptional achievers and ordinary achievers is people who ask for and accept help rather than believing that they need to go it alone.

The Stanford School of Business also conducted a study that showed that people often grossly underestimated the help they’d receive if they asked for it.

As a university student, there may be times when you don’t understand a concept taught in class, your academic results aren’t as high as you’d have hoped, you run into financial difficulties, or the mental load of your studies is too much.

Our suggestion is always to seek help.

At St Thomas More College, students may choose to take up complimentary academic tutoring, or make an appointment with the Deputy Head of College, a Resident Advisor or even ask a fellow Tommy More student for some guidance. The College also runs a mentoring program with Alumni. University lecturers are almost always available on online portals or via email, and financial and mental well-being programs on campus can be incredibly useful. The bottom line is: there is an abundance of help available to university students. Grasp these opportunities with both hands.

So there you have it! 7 Tips for Starting University.

For many, university becomes one of the most memorable times of their lives, filled with laughter and lifelong friendships and we hope your experience is the same. It’s time to get excited!

7 Tips for Starting University | Tips for First Year University Students | St Thomas More College

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