Semester One 2016 is fast approaching and with a new blog, it seemed fitting to start the semester and this blog off with a bang – tips to guide you through the daunting first semester of University!
1. Go to class.
Before you laugh at me for suggesting something so simple, I should let you know this is something I’m guilty of not doing myself. It’s always so tempting to stay in bed instead of attending that dreaded 9AM lecture or to leave campus early, skipping that horrible last class of your already tiring day but the easiest way to get a good grade is to actually attend class. If you set this routine up in your first semester, you’ll be set for the rest of your time at University.
2. Utilise a planner. Be it school issued, something you got on sale at Target or an app on your phone. Use a calendar and use it religiously. Put in any important date, due dates, semester breaks, exams, important life events, and class times. This is the one guaranteed way that you will be able to get everything done, maybe not perfectly but it will be done.
3. Use your syllabus.
Seriously. Use it. Live it. Breathe it. Love it.
I know way too many people who don’t even look at a class syllabus but it is your guide to the class. It will include important contact information about your professors and tutors, contact hours, information about learning objectives, information about all of your assignments, and what you need to know about required and recommended readings. I keep a copy for each class in my binder, so that I have a copy on hand at all times.
4. Wait to buy your textbooks.
One of the first things you’ll want to do after class registration, is to buy your textbooks but in doing so you could be making a very, very expensive mistake. Textbooks don’t come cheap and the reality of it is, you really don’t need every book your professor recommends. More often than not you’ll be able to find them online for much cheaper, especially if you buy them second hand and if you only need a book for a chapter or two, the library is always a good option.
5. Be smart when scheduling your classes.
When organising your schedule, it may seem like a good idea to schedule all of your classes over two or three days, maximising your free time. How bad can two eight hour days with no break be, really?
Let me tell you from experience, overloading yourself can result in a serious burn out. Without time to eat, take a bit of a mental break for an hour or so and some time to socialise on campus, you’ll find yourself not only skipping classes and ending the day early but falling behind in classes because you can’t find it in yourself to pay attention.
Don’t make the same mistake I did because this can really destroy your University experience.
6. Always carry headphones.
There’s always a use for headphones. On the bus or train on the way to school? Plug your earphones and listen to a lecture you missed. In the library and can’t stand the silence? Blast your favourite songs whilst you write that damn paper. Student election time? Breeze past those annoying people trying to force a pamphlet in your hand with some sunglasses and your headphones.
Trust me, you’ll always need them.
7. Make some friends, join a club!
During orientation week in your first semester, you’ll find out all about the clubs and sporting groups your school has to offer. There’s bound to be something for everyone, ranging from book clubs, video gaming clubs and even Harry Potter clubs and Quidditch. Joining a club is one of the easiest ways to make friends with likeminded people, and you’re not bound by joining a single club.
8. Always carry a pen.
Who needs a pen when you take all of your notes digitally? Trust me, you’ll always need a pen handy… even when you least expect it.
9. Make sure you take a bit of time to relax.
Bad grades aren’t the end of the world, don’t be afraid to skip a class to spend some time with family or friends or to stay out late partying even though you have a nine Just make sure you find the time to catch up on your work! But really, make sure you find time to relax, your life shouldn’t revolve around school and your mental and physical health are important.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Something important to learn in your very first semester of University is that there are always, always people to help you. If you’re ever struggling, even with something you think is tiny and so not important, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Professors will always try and help as best they can, your tutors and other staff will go above and beyond because they either were or still are students as well, and there’s always other people on staff at the university to help with a multitude of problems.
Another great resource to be aware of is your school’s department for equity and diversity (it may be under a different name, but that’s what my school calls it!) If you’re in a situation that affects your ability to be in class or do work, go and see them!
Never think you’re alone in any given situation.
Hope that helped. If you have any tips you wish you knew in your very first semester of University, share them in the comments below!