Advice for First Years: University in General

Last week I brought you my tips for first year students in halls of residence and this week I have my tips for all first years about university in general. Of course I’m happy to answer any questions you may have but don’t forget that these tips are based on my personal experience at Victoria and could vary based on your course of study and university.

university in general

Talk to people in your lectures and tutorials

Talking to people at uni can be scary, especially in a lecture theatre full of 300 people. If you’re a confident person try and say hi and introduce yourself to the person next to you; often you’ll end up talking to them and sharing ideas through the lecture anyway. If you’re not so confident it’s a lot easier to talk to people in your tutorials as they’re a lot smaller. It’s definitely worth making friends in your course because then you have someone to study with and ask for notes when you’re sick.

Ask for help when you need it

Your tutors, lecturers and other academic staff want to help you and usually will if you ask. Extensions are often granted quite easily  under reasonable circumstances. Just make sure you know the correct protocol for getting one. For some courses that could mean a simple email whilst others may require a form to be filled out with evidence of your circumstances.

But don’t abuse the system

You don’t want to be the boy who cried wolf when it comes to gaining extensions. Don’t lie to get one on an assignment that you simply left to the last minute. Staff will usually see straight through this anyway and have zero sympathy.

Use your student services

Most universities have a large range of services available to students and funded by the Student Services Levy. If you’re paying $700 a year you want to make sure you utilise the services. Examples of this include the health service (doctors and counselling), recreation (gym and social sports leagues), advocacy and learning support. Many of these services are provided for free or at a very reduced rate to students.

Don’t be worried about what others think

University is a time to discover yourself and the things you like doing and find like-minded people. Don’t be ashamed or worried about others judging you for following your passions. Go join the SciFi club if that’s what you want to do! (or the religious group or political party or whatever you like)

Exercise socially

A busy schedule of study, socialising and part time work can mean finding time for exercise is difficult but if you combine exercise and socialising then it’s a lot easier. Find a gym buddy, meet a friend at a group fitness class or join a social sports league; that way when you’re having fun it won’t even seem like exercise!

student job search

Student Job Search is an awesome resource available to New Zealand university students. Finding work to fit around study or suitable for students can be tricky but SJS has a whole range of jobs including part time, one off, short term and volunteer positions across a huge scope of work fields. Positions advertised only allow a few people to be forwarded through so make sure you get in quick!

Oweek is not just for partying

This may be an unpopular opinion with a lot of first year students but orientation is an important time to become familiar and comfortable with the university environment. It’s a good idea to find where all your classes are, buy your textbooks and confirm your enrolment before lectures start.

learn the library

When assignments begin piling up it’s going to be made a lot easier if you already know how to use your university library. Go on a tour or look around the physical library to find the area where your subject’s books are generally kept. But more importantly learn to use the online catalogue. Most universities have a very extensive online catalogue of academic journals, searching online to find specific information is a lot easier that sifting through books. It also means you avoid competing for the same physical books and can access resources from home (perfect for the last minute assignment rush).

If anyone else has other tips for first years I’d love to hear them below!

Good luck to everyone starting university soon.

Image source: Picjumbo

  • Trisha

    I’d like to add about assignments to not fall into the NCEA trap of going oh its only worth 5% etc. Doing every assignment big or small takes some stress off when it comes to finals