5 Tips to Nail First Semester
Starting university or college can be a challenge so we’ve put together our top tips to help you nail the first semester.
Get to know the campus
In O-Week, you probably worked out where your faculty is located, and you may have even taken a tour of your main building.
In your free time in the first week or two, take a stroll around campus, in between buildings and along pathways just to see where you end up. You may discover facilities, cafes, bars and activities that appeal to you or maybe even find a shortcut to class.
Getting to know where everything is, and where you need to go, will make life on campus much easier.
Get to know other people
The best way to enjoy your first semester is to get to know students and other people in the campus community. Try chatting to the person next to you in a lecture or tutorial. Talking about how you’re both finding the classes could lead to a friendship, and maybe someone to talk to about assignments and study.
Look at all of the clubs and societies that the uni or college offers, and join one or two that match your interests.
Another option is to ask other students if you can join their study groups. Most people have a common goal of learning and passing the subject, so are usually happy and willing to make friends, especially for study groups. For many, studying with people is more enriching and enjoyable than working it all out by yourself.
Different study methods
With COVID restrictions still being a big part of everyday life, there’s a good chance at least some of your course elements are being taught online, or possibly entirely online. You can still enjoy being part of campus life, even from afar. Virtual clubs and societies are a great way to meet new people who are in the same situation as you. Online study groups are a positive and proactive way to connect and collaborate with your classmates.
Most institutions offer extensive support for those studying online, giving students access to assistance 7 days a week in many cases. Make sure you explore all the online resources available to you, so if you’re finishing up a project at 10pm and get stuck, you know where to find help.
Get into a routine
As uni or college is less structured than school or work environments, with lectures and tutorials spread out across a day and a week, it is easy to use up the extra time you have for sleep in, a coffee catch up with mates etc. But this doesn’t actually assist in the long run.
The more organised you are in using your time, the greater the likelihood that you will enjoy your new life. Once your timetable is set, map out the hours for your part-time job, clubs or sports, other personal commitments such as volunteering etc. This will give you an idea of what free time you really have – remembering that you have assignments and study to do – so you have a realistic idea of what free time you’ll have for social catch ups or exploring your hobbies.
If you’re doing some elements online, a routine is even more important. It seems easier to skip a lecture or tutorial if you don’t have to be there in person. Make sure you’ve timetabled online course requirements into your day in the same way you would as if you were attending in person.
You are unlikely to get this right from day one, but the earlier you make an effort to get into a routine, the better you will become at it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Uni or college has many resources and services available to help you manage your studies and other challenges you may face. It’s important that you ask for help when you need it, whether study-related or otherwise.
Don’t hesitate to ask a lecturer or tutor if you need something repeated. Counsellors are available if you have any personal issues you need to discuss, freely and confidentially. The student union can help with advice on course fees and legal matters. The careers service can help you with planning your future and getting yourself ready to look for part-time work whilst studying
Don’t forget the library – as well as being a quiet place to study, the library will have lots of resources relevant to your courses. The librarians can direct you to resources and texts you may not be able to find on your own.
Handling the transition to being a self-starter, making new friends and determining your own outcomes in a new environment presents challenges. It’s also often a time when some people are not sure that they are studying the ‘right’ subjects or courses. These challenges, and the extra freedom compared to school, can be very hard to navigate. It is important to recognise that many students before you have experienced what you might be feeling. Get some assistance if you are not sure about your study choices, and use the resources available.
Almost everyone takes time to adjust to uni or college life. We hope these tips will help you to nail your first semester.