It’s that time of year.  The long summer break is drawing to a close and across the country thousands of students are finishing up their holiday jobs, packing up everything they need for their first year at Uni, raiding home for all the bits & pieces that might be useful in their first flat, and preparing to step into a whole new way of life. It’s a time of equal parts excitement and apprehension.

Here’s a few key tips for approaching your first year at Uni, gleaned from students who have been there before you:

Firstly – you are not alone!  Everywhere you look will be someone else feeling just as confused and uncertain as you are.  If you are moving into a hall of residence, remember, they specialise in helping young people who are new to uni life (and in most cases new to the city) to settle in.  By the time ‘O’ week is over, and you find time to catch your breath, you will find you feel completely at home and have a whole bunch of new friends. If you are not going into a Hall, most of our unis now offer some form of ‘locals’ base to provide similar experiences and support for those living at home or flatting.

Secondly – tertiary study is a completely different way of learning.  Deadlines need to be meet, and opportunities for resubmissions are uncommon. Classes are often huge in number and your lecturer may not know you. It is expected that you will do a significant amount of work outside of class (you should prepare for a 40 hour week in total, and know that coming up to deadlines you might well need to work very early or very late in the day), so think about your time management early in the semester.

Thirdly – remember why you are there. What are your goals?  If you are entering a competitive first year and need good/excellent grades to get a place in the programme of your choice, then right from the start you need to be thinking about study taking priority. In some very competitive courses, real social life doesn’t start until second year when you have the place you want.

Fourthly – very few people succeed in their tertiary qualification on academic ‘talent’ alone. Attitude and study habits are crucial and they can be learned! Focussing on your goals for Uni will help you stay motivated and all tertiary providers have learning support centres and programmes to help you make it.  Be organised and ask for help sooner rather than later and all will be well.

Approach this next stage in your career and life with an open and curious mind.  Be generous, take care of yourself and those around you, learn, live and laugh for the most wonderful adventure stretches in front of you.