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The A-Z of going to uni

So you’ve jumped through all the hoops to get to uni and now it’s real. Here’s your A-Z guide to going to uni and some pro tips for surviving your first year

A is for adulting

Uni life is fun, but it’s also full of forms to fill out, deadlines that nobody reminds you of, and serious pressure to party (that you’ll sometimes be forced to say no to). There are lots of mundane but super important tasks required to get through uni, but remember, employers rate university graduates in part because just finishing a degree takes commitment. So adult like a boss!

B is for be prepared

Get into the habit of reading all the required texts for the week in advance, and take notes. The act of writing notes is a proven way of committing things to memory. Create a study schedule that works with your job/hobbies/life. If you’re not a morning person now, don’t try and change yourself for uni ‘cos you’ll be setting yourself up for an epic fail.

C is for classes

Uni classes are a lot different to school, consisting of lectures, tutorials and workshops. While lectures are usually one way, tutorials are like classroom sessions but more about sharing notes than teaching. Tutorials are most helpful when you go in prepared to contribute and learn from other students. And look out for tips from your tutorial teachers on what might be in your exams.

D is for directions

Uni campuses are BIG. So leave plenty of time to get to new classes, get familiar with your uni campus map, and don’t be afraid to ask randoms for directions.

E is for electives

Electives are courses you can choose outside the core or compulsory courses in your degree. They can be chosen from all courses available at the university, so take some time to think about where you might want to mix it up. That surprising elective you take could take you down a whole different career path!

F is for friends

Making friends at uni can be daunting, but is totally worth it for what could end up being life-long connections. If striking up a conversation in a crowded lecture theatre isn’t your thing, try sliding into someone’s chat in online sessions,  join a uni club or society, or even a Facebook group – there are literally hundreds of them.

G is for games spaces

When you’re on campus there’s so much more to do than just go to lectures and tutes. Professional-grade gaming spaces are popping up at unis – like the eSports Arena at QUT. What better way than to refresh and reset than with a League of Legends battle or two!

H is for headphones

Forget your headphones on a study/class day and it’s basically game over. You’ll need them on the public transport, when you’re in the library, and possibly to listen to that lecture you missed.

I is for independence

You’ll have so much more freedom at uni than you ever had at school, you can largely control your own time, course load and social life. But with independence comes responsibility – none of your teachers will be checking in on you if you don’t hand in your assignment on time. So set yourself as many reminders as possible.

J is for journal articles

A journal is an academic magazine containing articles based on research written by experts in a particular field. By the end of uni you’ll probs be very over them, but they are required for assignments and where you’ll learn a bunch of stuff. The abstract is where you’ll find all the good info.

K is for knowledge

Remember, uni is a rare chance to gain knowledge in a concentrated way. It might be tempting to cram and get by with the bare minimum of reading, but taking the time to absorb it all will work better for your knowledge bank!

L is for library

The university library is like the heart of any uni campus – scout out good study spots early, get to know the librarians, and use the library for textbooks as much as possible to save $$.

M is for memories

Soak up the atmosphere. This is what uni life is all about (between lectures and tutorials). You’ll make some of your best life memories here, so take the time to stop, look around, and bask in your awesomeness for getting here!

N is for notes

Lectures are for taking notes, and whether you prefer to write on paper, use your phone or a laptop, ideally you’ll make notes while in your lectures. If the lecture moves too fast though, be sure to jot down some thoughts immediately after while the content is still fresh in your mind. Keep them organised as they might be your saviour when it comes to exam study time.

O is for O-week

The best way to prepare for uni is to attend orientation week. There’s heaps of SWAG, and it’s also a chance to find out where your classes will be held, speak with second and third-year students to get their survival tips, and check out all the clubs and societies you might be keen to join.

P is for parking

If you can’t be bothered with public transport or don’t have good options and decide to drive to uni, remember parking is a stitch up at most unis. You’ll pay a lot for it and unless you’re early, spend precious time doing laps of your campus looking for a spot.

Q is for questions

There’s no such thing as a dumb question. Arrive at tutorials with questions and ask away!

R is for readers

On top of your assigned textbooks (which you can buy second-hand or borrow from the library), there are often readers for each subject. These are like giant tree killing exercises, so if you can, avoid printing them all out, and use paper to make summary notes instead.

S is for student support

Unis are keen to make sure you not only survive but thrive, meaning they all offer extensive student support services, including everything from peer tutoring to counselling. Find out what’s available early on and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

T  is for timetables

Timetable mastery is probably THE most important skill to learn early at uni. Play to your strengths – be it studying at night or early in the morning. It might be tempting to cram all your classes into one or two days, but you’ll still need to schedule study time around work and partying.

U is for units

A unit is the credit value of course subjects. This matters because you’ll need to rack up the required amount of units or credit points to progress to third or fourth year and ultimately graduate. It’s helpful to be across this if you need to drop a subject during the year.

V is for vending machines

OK, they’re not the place you should be dining at, but unis have a good vending machine game to help get you through the mid-afternoon slump. Option A should be to pack your own healthy snacks of course :)

W is for water

Uni days are loooong. So pack water to avoid paying for it on campus and keep your brain hydrated.

X is for eXtra credits

It’s a bit of a secret and not available at every uni, but some allow you to do extra subjects during a semester to help fast track your degree. Check your uni’s website for more info on extra credits.

Y is for YOLO

Your first year of uni only happens once, so say yes to everything that will help make your uni experience worthwhile.

Z is for Zoom

The pandemic may be over, but some uni classes are still virtual. Zoom is video conferencing software used by lots of unis, but you’ll need to download it to your devices and keep it updated to make sure you don’t miss a class.


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