So you’ve finally finished high school and University awaits, and whilst this is an exciting time, the first day of University can be daunting, especially for some more than others. Of course there are going to be nerves; University is new, different and a somewhat foreign routine. Often you might feel like you are alone, left to navigate your own way through unfamiliar territory. But, amongst the haze of nerves and unfamiliarity there are indeed some practical words of advice that may help ease the transition to ensure your first day of University is as productive and as stress free as possible.
Become familiar with the campus. Unlike school, Universities often have more than one campus in one location, each containing multi-storey buildings, decked with classrooms, offices and wide, extensive lecture theatres. So of course anyone can easily get lost, in what seems like a labyrinth, especially within the first day or week, and yes I’ve been there, it’s not fun. So, why not attend an orientation day – most Universities offer firsthand tours which are a great way to become familiarised with various parts of the campus well before your first day even begins. And, failing this, campus maps can often be easily located on most University websites, to ensure you know where you are going and can arrive where you need to be on time.
Find common people and build a group. It’s easy to feel alone and out of place on your first day in a new setting, but so many other students will be feeling the same sort of apprehension too. So, why not use this time to push your comfort zone and embrace the opportunity to meet new people within a fresh start? Building solid social ties is paramount to the whole University experience, and whilst engaging with others may enhance learning, meeting people within the same course may just mean you meet some very like-minded individuals.
Parking and bus routes. This is an important one. University is a busy place, with many students arriving at the same time, so it’s no surprise there is a competition for parking spaces. I remember turning up with five minutes to spare, hurriedly seeking a park to make a tutorial on time, only to return to a parking ticket smirking at me from my car windscreen! So, once again, plan ahead and allow time to find appropriate parks designated for University students. And, if you’re like many other students that depend on public transport, become familiar with bus routes and stops so arriving to lectures and tutorials on time becomes part of a usual routine.
Plan ahead for assignments and get to know the required referencing system. So you have three or perhaps four subjects on the go, each with different content and an array of assignments due on varying dates – juggling this is a little different to school work. The best way to cut unnecessary stress is to know these due dates and plan ahead of time. This will not only ensure you get a solid understanding and undertake adequate research, but will also allow time for arising questions and any other errors within an unfamiliar system, like online submissions. Getting to know referencing requirements and guidelines well before any due dates is also an important part of University grading policy, and trust me, you don’t want to be fiddling around last minute because you’ve made the mistake of using APA referencing instead of Harvard and vice versa!
Plan a balanced structure between University and life. It’s true; the University years are those of a new and exciting era, quite different from the High School life. Amongst this time of change and transition there will be new deadlines and demands. Whilst there is so much to embrace, it’s also an important time to create good, structured habits and balance. Ensure time is managed in a way that caters to a solid study schedule, on campus time, work, and home life, and remember that leisure and downtime is just as important, especially for easing stress and ultimately enhancing your productivity!
Become familiar with the library. Throughout your time at University you will become heavily dependent on texts and other resources, particularly to complete assignments and essays to a standard that satisfies University policies. So, why not start from the beginning and learn to navigate the Library databases early on? Besides making life a whole lot easier, you’ll soon realise there is a goldmine of information available if you know where to look, and all at your fingertips!
Come prepared. Almost every subject has one or more prescribed texts and often these are noted online or within student handbooks, regardless, it’s easy and helpful to become familiarised with the necessary texts beforehand. Similarly, remember to arrive to lectures and tutorials ready to note-take, with adequate pens and paper – there is nothing worse than coming empty-handed and missing a whole lecture’s worth of notes! But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that pre-semester stationary shopping is always a bit of a highlight!
Become familiar with on-campus services. We’ve established that the transition to University can indeed be a little daunting, and while there are many things that you can do to overcome this, you may need other assistance. And, that is another perk of University – the available support systems. So, why not become familiar with what your University has to offer its students; this can range from administrative assistance, librarians, course guidance, doctors and medical assistance through to on-campus counsellors.
Article by Emma Joy