Semester One 2018 is about to begin, and as it is my very final semester of undergraduate studies, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share some of the things I consider to be essentials for getting through University.
I’ve written a list of things that have either gotten me through those ridiculously boring lectures or the long days of studying in the library over the past two and a half years. Hopefully, they’ll help you out too!
As Always, links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links!
Portable Phone Charger
I think I’ve talked about this being a necessity in other posts but seriously, if you have a commute, long days or your just prone to draining your phone battery, get your hands on a portable charger*. While it’s not exactly impossible to find a powerpoint to plug your phone and charger into, it’s not always the most convenient of options, so a portable charger just makes everything so much easier.
Reusable Coffee Cup
I mentioned this in my Gift Guide For Students because I think it’s such a practical, useful thing to have as a student. Firstly, if you’re a caffeine addict like myself, it’s more environmentally friendly than disposable coffee cups but also because you can get discounts for using them at most coffee shops and cafes. Who doesn’t love a cheap coffee? My personal favourites are the Keep Cups because they come in a variety of designs and colours, you have the ability to replace individual parts if something breaks, they come in a variety of sizes – which makes it perfect for every order imaginable and they’re customisable!
I get asked quite a bit if I’d recommend a laptop over either a desktop or a tablet for every day university work and my answer every time is a big fat YES. I’m not saying you need to get something top of the range or even an apple branded Macbook, whatever works with your budget and has the capability to run some basic word processing program will work just fine. The only reason I think a laptop is better than a desktop computer or tablet is the convenience. You can take a laptop with you anywhere and work – lecture theatre, library, study hall, park, wherever! While a tablet or iPad gives you the same freedom, I don’t recommend it because often times you’ll need to buy or download software for a class and it’s rarely available on tablets. For me, Laptops are your safest bet to get you through a three or four year degree without any issues!
This might sound a little crazy since everything is electronic now but loose change comes in handy – parking, coffee, snacks, water, fundraising events on campus, vending machines, the list really is endless. Keeping a few spare coins or some cash in your bag will always be handy.
For much the same reason as a reusable coffee cup, bringing your own water bottle is not only good for the environment but it saves you money! There’s always places to refill your bottle on campus and there are so many out there that you’re bound to find a cute water bottle that fits in your bag perfectly!
Budgeting tip for all my broke students out there – if you want cold water all day long but can’t afford a fancy bottle, fill your water bottle half way with water and stick it in the freezer overnight, when you want to use it, fill the rest of it with water and not only will you have ice cold water all day, but you can actually drink it without waiting for it to defrost!
An obvious essential for commuting, library sessions, listening to music or online class work. I’ve had the same cheap pair for nearly three years now, which are still going strong but I’d also highly recommend buying noise cancelling headphones* if you live in shared housing or tend to study in busy areas. Trust me, they will be worth it!
Favourite Spot in the Library
You’ll spend a lot of time in the library, so it’s probably a good idea you find a space where you enjoy to study. I’d definitely recommend somewhere you get some natural light, somewhere not too loud and where you’re within reach of amenities such as the printer, bathroom and vending machines but not close enough to be annoyed by the constant foot traffic that occurs around those areas. It’ll probably take you a little bit of time to find your perfect spot but once you do, you’ll be studying like a beast in no time!
Learning how to reference correctly is so important. Not only is it a great way to get some easy marks on those essays, it also helps you to avoid accidental plagiarism and stops you from getting into some big trouble. As a Psychology student, all of my classes use APA formatting and in my first year I picked up the APA referencing guide*, which has saved my butt on several occasions. I will say, most referencing guides are available online for free or through your library but having your own copy to abuse is such a help in the middle of the stress fuelled essay writing sessions.
I’ve talked about SelfControl before in my Study Apps post but seriously, if you’re prone to getting distracted whilst working on your computer, this little app will quickly become an essential. It basically stops you from accessing any websites you put into it meaning you can’t go to google scholar to start researching and then suddenly end up in the whirlpool of distracting youtube videos. It’s also free which is another plus!
Favourite Coffee Shop
As a student the best coffee shop isn’t necessarily the one with the best coffee. Ideally, it needs to be good, cheap and have quick service. Bonus points to the coffee shops that discount if you bring in your own cup and/or do loyalty cards where you get a freebie after buying a certain number of coffees!
Lost on Campus App
I’m 99.9% sure this is only available for Australian Universities but Lost On Campus is basically a GPS to get you around campus. It’s super user friendly, will help you find the most difficult of classrooms all over campus and it’s free! I’ve used this app religiously at the beginning of nearly every semester because no matter how hard I try, I always have a class in some obscure part of campus that I cannot find and it has always gotten me there on time without any stress!
Doesn’t matter if you’re all about taking electronic notes or if you’re an avid notebook devotee, I think it’s important to have a little notebook* in your bag. You’ll find it super useful for jotting down contact information of group members for assignments, to-do lists, reminders, those pesky first week back get-to-know you activities, etc. There is always a need for some paper, so if you’re not a notebook user, make sure you have some paper accessible.
Much like above, it’s always handy to have a spare pen* stored away in a pocket of your bag just in case. That way if you forget your pencil case or something, you’re not left in the lurch without a pen. It also comes in handy if you’re an electronic notetaker and you come across a situation where you need a pen!
Planner/Bullet Journal/Calendar app
One of the easiest ways to stay on top of things at university or college, is to keep organised. Whatever method this is for you – Planner, Bullet Journal or electronic calendars – make sure you’re using it effectively and staying on top of deadlines. My biggest tip here is to set a reminder for exactly one week before the due date, so even if you do happen to forget, you’ll leave yourself adequate time to get everything done.
Copy of the Syllabus
I have mentioned a million and one times both on the blog and on my various social media accounts, how using your syllabus is a guaranteed way to get good grades. Seriously, it tells you absolutely everything from due dates, policy and guidelines on submitting work late, contact information for both the lecturer, tutors and coordinators and even university policy on plagiarism. This is your go to guide for everything you need to know about the subjects you are taking and simply reading it can help you understand what’s expected of you better.
You can read more about how I use my syllabus to prep for class in my How To Use Your Syllabus To Improve Your Grades post!
A Way to Uniwind
This is probably the most important thing, that I think is overlooked by many students, when it comes to University essentials. University is stressful and you need a way that you can just unload all of that stress, otherwise you risk burning out. There are so many simple things you can do that include watching an episode or two of your favourite TV show, going to the gym, writing a blog post or even just stepping away from your desk and doing something not school related.
What are your University or College essentials?