12 Feb 2015

Back to Uni: Tips from a Second Year

There's a week and a half left until I go back to uni here in Australia, and everyone is starting to prep themselves for another semester. Whether you're starting your first year, your third, or are in the middle of classes somewhere else in the world, here are some pointers that I learnt in my first year that I wish I'd known sooner. Hopefully they'll help you out, too!

Early is Better
I don't mean getting to campus hours before class, just that sensibly planning how long things are going to take is the best thing you can do. Public transport can be annoyingly inconvenient, and you can end up with a choice of either getting to campus over half an hour early or having less that five minutes to leg it to your room. Even just leaving five minutes earlier for the bus can be the difference between running up the street and ending up sweaty and uncomfortable and taking a relaxing stroll. If you drive to uni, leave some extra time in case the traffic is bad. While you're waiting for class you can grab a coffee, pop into the shops, find your way to your room or quickly revise before a tute. Choosing to be just a little early can be one way to reduce stress really easily.

Digital is Convenient
Sometimes you'll be lucky enough to find your textbooks in ebook format (which is cheaper anyway so yay!), which means that you can keep them all in one place and you don't have to carry them around when you need them. I also think taking notes on your laptop is much more convenient, unless you're the type of person that is really into handwriting their notes. I use Microsoft OneNote (which you can find for free), and it keeps my notes organised and easy to find. A word of advice: don't just type up everything the lecturer says or copy from the textbook, quickly summarise in your head beforehand. It'll help you get a better grasp on the content.

Always Have a Pen
Even if you're taking all your notes digitally, a pen is always necessary for signing attendance and any work you need to do by hand. Also keep an extra in case you run out of ink or if your neighbour needs a loan. It can be a nice and easy conversation starter if you want it to be!

Don't Procrastinate (Seriously. Don't.)
I know you've probably heard this from everyone, but it's still a really important piece of advice. Of course, expecting you to have your assessments done weeks before they're due is ridiculous (seriously who actually does that?). Get yourself into the habit of starting small as soon as you possibly can. Even just doing some research and taking small notes for half an hour is a good way to start. It's much easier to keep the ball rolling if you've given it a little push at the beginning. And trust me, you don't want to be watching the clock and wondering if you can finish the last 500 words and the reference list in under an hour. I've been there. It's awful. Save yourself the unnecessary pain.

Do Your Readings
You'll always end up with a lot of people that just can't be bothered. Doing your assigned readings can seem really boring and a little pointless, but depending on how your unit is structured, it can provide you with some really useful background info or consolidate what you're covering in lectures. Either way, it can only benefit you. (And trust me, tutors like it when you do the readings.)

Start Studying Early
After your first week, get into the habit of making notes and revising what you've learnt for each unit. It may seem tedious and unnecessary to start so early, but it will significantly decrease the amount of exam study you have to do at the end of semester. All you have to do is keep looking over the notes you made previously! You'll be patting yourself on the back for not leaving a massive workload and having to hunch over books for hours and hours.

Give Yourself a Break
Look for the gaps in your timetable. Sometimes just having an hour between classes is all you need. If you have the option of taking days off, do it! If not, you don't have to attend every lecture if they're not compulsory. If I have early morning lectures or if a 1-hour lecture is all I have on a particular day, I don't physically go and I listen to them online later instead. If you have the option to do this and it sounds nice to you, I seriously recommend you do it. It might take a little more self-motivation to listen to a lecture when you're at home lounging around, but it ends up being less work.

Wear Comfortable Shoes
If your main means of getting to uni is walking, like me, then please, for the love of God, wear comfy shoes. Flats, boots, sneakers, sandals, whatever. Just don't wear anything that rubs uncomfortably because it's only bad news. Blisters are no help to anyone. Avoid them at all costs. Even if that means wearing the less-attractive shoe.

Always Carry an Umbrella
You never quite know when it's going to rain. It can be sunny when you leave in the morning and be pouring down in the afternoon. Campuses are big places and they don't always have a massive amount of undercover area, so you'll be thanking yourself for having a little umbrella tucked in your bag when you have to walk across the open carpark or down the uncovered main walk. If you're someone who doesn't mind getting rained on, then I envy you. I wish I had your level of chill.

Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself
So, you didn't get a distinction on your essay? It's okay! Remind yourself that anything over a pass is enough, and make sure you believe it. BUT don't stop reaching for those high marks! Just don't get stressed if you don't quite make them. Odds are, you have a chance to even it out and learn to work harder for the next assessment or the final exam. It'll all be okay in the end if you keep trying.

Hopefully you took something from this that you didn't already know! If you're about to start uni for the first time, then good luck! I'm sure you'll love it in some way.



  1. I am so the person who doesn't do assigned reading, to the point that last semester I didn't even bother buying textbooks because I couldn't take them home with me anyway so what was the point - However this leads to anther handy tip, Uni Librarys usually have at lease one copy of every compulsory text for those of us to poor/lazy to buy them :)

    1. YES so true. You just have to be careful because depending on your unit/type of core readings they can either be in really high demand or just not be in the library at all. Like I've done lit units with readers that you HAVE to buy which sucks. I also find having my own copies handy for assessments so I don't have to camp out in the library for hours, but it depends on how you work I guess.

    2. ... and how close you live to campus, like off campus alyssa only goes to the library for group work and if she has a massive break in the middle of the day, on campus alyssa spends from sun up to sun down in the library some days