Get Ready for your First Week at Uni
Starting the next step in your education can be overwhelming
But there's plenty you can do to feel ready. Here are five easy starting points to get you on track for that first week at university or college:
1. Learn the layout of your campus
Before your first day, make time to visit the campus and get a sense of its layout. Many universities are gigantic and will often be their own suburb with unique postcodes, roads, and regulations. Even if you are studying in a smaller campus, you might be surprised by how far apart the buildings can be and how challenging it is to move between them quickly. You'll feel far more comfortable and prepared if you know where your classrooms and lecture halls are, where to eat, where there are toilets, and where the library is.
Remember to dress with your new environment in mind. Sensible shoes, sunscreen, or a jacket are must haves depending on the climate or the length of your walk. You don't want to be sitting in your first class feeling wet and miserable or focussing more on your blisters than what the lecturer is saying.
You should also check out the public transport timetable, how far you need to walk, or how long your drive takes at a particular time of day. Be sure to rinse and repeat for exams held in unfamiliar buildings.
2. Buy your textbooks and equipment
At the very least, buy what you need for mandatory or core units that you can't change. Many lecturers will begin the semester with the assumption that you've got a copy of the textbook, assigned novels, equipment for your first lab, etc. Your first classes may have assumed knowledge based on your textbooks, or you may need to bring them to class with you.
Because of this, students will often panic and try to buy everything they need after classes have already started. This can lead to very long queues outside campus bookstores or inconvenient 'out of stock' notices on items you really need for your participation like safety goggles. Don't get stuck falling behind during the first week.
Of course, this can be financially difficult. Check out grants or bursaries if it’s hard for you. If you're on a scholarship, there may be an additional textbook allowance built in. It doesn't hurt to ask about options at the scholarships office, as the high cost of getting ready for semester is something that your institution will be aware of. You can also save money buy purchasing digital versions of your textbooks. There is a massive second hand market for assigned texts. Just be careful with edition numbers of textbooks and make sure you're getting the right version. Realistically, dropping or swapping classes does happen. If this happens to you, see if you can swap books with another student or re-sell your unwanted textbooks to try and get back a little bit of money for the ones you need.
3. Wave goodbye to secondary school
No one is impressed by students who show up boasting about the grades that got them into their course. You're in a new environment and you won't find too many people who care about your final secondary school grade - be it good or bad. The exciting thing about tertiary education is that it's a fresh start. Anyone can do much better (or worse!) than they did during secondary school.
You might also have a different relationship with subject areas, so don't be too held back by preconceived notions. It's common for a student to dislike a subject as it's taught in high school then like the university version - or visa versa.
Finally, this is a great chance to meet new and different people. It's a wonderful opportunity to connect with others who share your passions and direction in life, not just share your hometown. Because new people will have fewer expectations about who you are, you can explore different pathways. You don't need to be that shy kid anymore who can't find their voice. Or the distracted party animal who can't settle down. You can be who you want to be.
4. Wave hello to good habits
Starting this new part of your life is a great opportunity to introduce new habits or behaviours that you would like to partake in. For many people, starting uni is the beginning of their adult life. It's a time to become more aware of your responsibilities and become self-directed in completing them.
Some of the best habits you can develop relate to your learning journey. It's important to make the conscious choice to attend all of your classes, rather than coming up with excuses to skip them. Plan to be the kind of successful student who takes notes and reaches out for help when you get confused. Be committed to working on your assessments and studying for your exams. (And if you're not sure where to begin, check out our guide for getting organised at uni).
Wellbeing habits are valuable too. Commit to starting your first week with good, solid sleep so that you're ready to learn. Don't rely too heavily on coffee, energy drinks, or sugary snacks to get you through the day. You'll be amazed by how much happier and ready for a challenge you feel when you've had a balanced meal.
5. Be excited!
Be ready to explore, learn, and enter a meaningful new phase of your adult life. If you’re bored before you start, that’s a bad sign! There are so many amazing opportunities that university will bring for you. Get started by aiming for quality work, quality relationships, and the best version of yourself.
Yes, it takes planning. But feeling ready and excited for the beginning of a new journey is a great way to make the most of your time at university and set yourself up for a great start.