Written by on March 17, 2021

By Gabriel Garcia.

Hi guys, its Gabriel here. Its March and that means the start of university. For some it will be an exciting start to a new chapter in their lives and for others it’s just the start of a slog through another academic year. I spent 7 years studying at university so I have decided to write down a list of tips to survive and thrive through those years for any new university students out there or for any existing student who is struggling.

Thou shall organise thy timetable early

First thing first, organise your university time table as soon as possible. For those who have just started or those who plan to begin university midyear the advise is still the same. Organising it early doesn’t just mean you get the best tutorial time slots (personally I go for the 11am slots as you can have a bit of a sleep) but you can organise other things such as work or internships/ volunteering (which is incredibly important to do) in advance.

Thou shall attend O-week… at least once

O-week or Orientation Week is held before the start of each semester. For students who will start midyear this year or plan to begin university next year O-week is a time when university is the most free. There are games, stalls, food trucks. Some courses oblige you to go to O-week for a lecture or a briefing but even if you don’t have such obligations go anyway as you can get some great information. I recommend every university student attend O-week at least once during their university years.

Thou shall manage thy time effectively

Time management is an essential part of life and arguably in university you start to get to your first proper experience of it. Unlike high school your professors aren’t going to be reminding you of deadlines. If you want to succeed, manage your time. Doing all nighters may seem like a rite of passage but some experiences aren’t worth having and it’s not a very healthy or efficient way to go about studying.

Thou shall do thy readings

Readings are an essential part of university life. It’s also arguably one of the most hated parts. I admit I didn’t always do my readings however I urge all new students to get into the habit of doing the readings. Especially if you’re studying something like medicine, I really don’t want to be operated on by someone who missed the readings on how the heart works. In the end the readings are for your benefit not the lecturers and you will be tested on them. Also these days’ lecturers can probably check who has accessed the readings as most are online.

Thou shall take notes in lectures

Take notes during lectures. But it’s not as simple as that and I will tell you why. When I started my second degree in Media I noticed the first year students who had no experience in university scribbling down everything on the slide. This is a waste of time as you can download and print the slides. Instead write notes on what the lecturer is saying. Not everything they say will be on the slides. Break up your note page into slides 1,2,3… and just write what the lecturer says. You will save yourself time and learn more.

Thou shall seek help when required

You don’t get points for suffering in silence. Those were the words of one of my professors and it is so true. If you can’t understand something ask your professors, and if need be ask again. Your professors are paid to teach you so don’t be shy to seek them out.

Thou shall know thy boundaries

On the flip side to the above commandment know your boundaries with your professor. All professors have a time that is allocated for students. Use that time or book an appointment. Your university professors have other research that they are doing on top of teaching you, it’s part of their employment obligations. They also have families or a social life so a good rule of thumb is to email only during office hours and don’t expect replies on weekends. Your professors work to live not live to work.

Thou shall not treat your professors as fools

Honestly guys just don’t. Your professors aren’t fools and don’t wish to be treated as such. If you have failed to fulfil your obligations such as doing your readings be honest. They are going to know if you haven’t. Playing it honestly will earn you more respect and maybe some leeway.

Thou shall socialise

Universities are filled with ambitious people and there is a pressure to get ahead of the pack. Therefore many people try doubling down on their studies and foregoing other pursuits (a lot of final year students do this). But this is neither healthy nor constructive. Yes, your fellow students are your competition going into the work place, but they are also your connections. Forgo them at your peril. There are many social events and going to them are a great way to let off steam and connect with people in your future industry or similar industries. Even if you don’t like partying still do some sort of social activity. You don’t want to look back on university life and think of all the opportunities you missed.

Thou shall not take things too easy

On the flip side university isn’t all about socialising and enjoying yourself. You’re there for a purpose. P’s get degrees is a common saying and in essence is true but p’s won’t get you a job. If you’re socialising so hard that you forget the deadlines to assignments you probably should tone it down. Moderation is key.

Bonus commandment

So you ran out of time for an assignment, you failed an exam or you flunked the entire course. Don’t panic. Life hasn’t come to an end and the world won’t swallow you whole. Honestly the world barely noticed and doesn’t care. It’s not like you’re unique in this respect. What I am trying to say is that when things go wrong the worst thing to do is overreact (though that’s easier said than done). Most situations at university are retrievable and in the end university is only one part of your life.

Good luck to any of our readers who are entering the world of tertiary education. I honestly enjoyed it a lot and I am sure you will to. Have fun, learn, and cherish the moments to come.

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