Top tips for starting university

19 Feb 2024

Four university students wearing jeans and t-shirts sit on the grass, talking and smiling, with trees behind them.

An exciting leap from school: you’ve accepted your uni offer and enrolled. But what can you expect when you finally arrive on campus?

We asked current students for their top tips for starting university.

1. Plan your classes

Sebastian Rego is studying a Bachelor of Exercise Science at the University of Wollongong. His advice is to master the uni schedule.

‘Try to plan your classes well so that your schedule is manageable and you’re not stressed. A well-planned day allows you to fit in lunch breaks between classes, which will give you time to socialise with other students who share similar schedules. This has not only helped me get to know people better, it’s also given me an opportunity to ask for help with presentations and to clarify my understanding of course content.’

Sebastian has two years of uni under his belt and finds that spending two or three days on campus each week is the ideal face-to-face time. He recommends sorting out your timetable as soon as you can to give yourself the best chance of organising a schedule that suits you.

    2. Stay organised

    Noah Joyan admits that time management was a big challenge when he first started juggling uni and full-time work. After struggling to motivate himself in his first year of a Bachelor of Commerce at Macquarie University, he discovered that discipline and structure were what worked for him.

    ‘I made a personal spreadsheet and used it as the background on my laptop. Having that constant reference really helped keep me on track.’

    Staying organised continues to help Noah maintain balance in his life as he makes the push into his final semester of study.

    ‘I make time for my mental wellbeing. Being able to take time for myself is key to keeping me sane.’

    3. Attend your lectures

    Having completed her bachelor degree a few years ago, Georgia Holloway is now studying her Master of Heritage Conservation at the University of Sydney.

    Like Noah, Georgia’s had to balance work and study and therefore has learned from experience that there are rookie errors for time-poor first-year uni students.

    ‘Any good intentions to catch up by watching lecture recordings rarely work out. Attending lectures is an easy way to succeed. Lecturers routinely give out exam questions and answers in their in-person lectures and tutorials.’

    Rather than skipping lectures, Georgia learned a more productive way to save time.

    'When you have a big assignment, reference your notes as you go. That way, you won’t waste hours going back to find them later. I have a template that I created to summarise articles and chapters. While I’m researching I drop quotes in there with proper referencing. This helps me write assignments quickly.’

    Georgia also encourages first-year students to reach out for help.

    ‘In my first year I was unsatisfied with some of my results. I went to an academic advice service that helped me improve my essays. I also attended extra group study sessions in a summer session to get me through a statistics subject.’