9 Things I Learned The Hard Way In My First Year Of Uni

Never enrol in anything before 10am.

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The first few weeks of university can be a daunting experience. Like most students, I had no idea what to expect and had to learn a lot of important lessons the hard way.

So, here’s a list of all the things that I wish someone could have told me beforehand.

#1 Avoid 8.30am Lectures

As much as an early class seems like a good idea, it’s not. In theory, 8.30am classes sound like a logical idea: you’ll get class out of the way, stay on top of all your course work and never miss a class. In reality, you’ll be a no show by the fourth week.

#2 The Unit Plan Is Your Best Friend

Honestly, this should be the first thing you look at before you start a unit. Write down the due dates of everything because, unlike high school, most lecturers won’t even mention an assignment until it’s due. You don’t want to be that one person who didn’t realise it was due tomorrow.

#3 Avoid Online Courses In Your First Semester

The online uni system can be tricky no matter how tech savvy you are. Try and stick to attending classes in person to get the full uni experience. There’s the added bonus of going to classes IRL that you can meet new people and, more often than not, lecturers will give extra tips and hints for upcoming tests and assignments.

#4 The Trick Behind Textbooks

Buy the second-hand textbooks from your uni or even get them cheaper on Gumtree or StudentVIP. You don’t need the required latest edition – a few spelling changes isn’t worth the extra $$ you’ll have to pay. I’m not saying avoid buying the textbook because (unlike high school) you will actually use it in the course, but even having a look for earlier editions can really save you some cash in the long term.

#5 Correct Referencing Is EVERYTHING (I’m Not Exaggerating)

Nothing makes a lecturer happier than a perfect reference list – for some lecturers it’s the first thing they look at in an assignment. So, before you fail over a missing comma, download a copy of your university’s referencing guide. Trust me, it will save your life and your grades.

#6 Stick To Part Time Or Casual Work

You won’t be able to balance your study and social life if you’re working a full-time job. Make sure your job doesn’t clash with your classes too because some units require participation. Booking off the days when you have classes is a good idea because it ensures time for yourself before and after class and (most importantly) time for naps.

#7 Coffee Is Your Saviour

Say goodbye to that money you saved buying second-hand textbooks. A few hours in a tute may not seem like a lot, but you’ll thank me (and caffeine) once you’ve accidentally enrolled in an 8.30am lecture and have been binge-watching Netflix all night.

#8 Lost On Campus And StudentVIP

Finding your way around campus is borderline impossible. Luckily, we live in a world where there is an app for everything. The Lost On Campus app works for over 42 university campuses and is 100 per cent free. Also, check out StudentVIP which has a bunch of helpful stuff like textbooks, class notes, student discounts and the latest uni events.

#9 Enroll In A 2nd Or 3rd Year Unit

Some majors let you choose what order you do your classes in. For those who get the option, this one’s for you. Doing a second or third year unit is a great opportunity to see what the lecturers are expecting from you. Also, the majority of people in your unit will most likely actually be in their second, third or fourth year – did someone say free mentor???

Jessica Checkland is studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in writing. She is an aspiring poet, nap enthusiast and book hoarder.

(Lead image: Pitch Perfect/Gold Circle Films)