11 things I wish I knew before university
1. Your time is precious so make the most of it. Before your first semester begins research and plan how to make the most of your time at uni and all the services and activities you can take advantage of. Check events happening on campus as well as the town or city you’ll be in. It’s a wild ride ahead, potentially one of the most life changing and pivotal times in your life so make the most of every day at university. Grab each opportunity with both hands.
2. Make the effort to make friends. Some of your future lifelong friends or future business partners could be in a student club, society or organisation you sign up to. Uni orientation events can be the best time to explore all your options and find some clubs and societies that match your interests. #Quidditch anyone?
3. Don’t just pass; get good grades. Earning money from your part-time job while studying is important, but getting good grades will set you up for life. Whether or not you continue straight into honours or postgrad studies, you never know when your excellent grades are going to be needed in the future. Best to make the effort now and set yourself up for a bright future ahead.
4. Schedule time for extra study. Universities are big places, often with thousands of students, and it can be a very different environment compared to high school. You really need to have the self-discipline and initiative to put extra time and effort into your studies outside of the classroom. You can’t rely solely on only what the lecturer teaches you during a class. Sometimes some of the best knowledge you discover is when you make the effort to find more answers and more information.
5. Get involved. Volunteering, working at the student newspaper or radio station, or signing up to a startup competition could be the golden reason an employer hires you above other graduates. Demonstrating you have the initiative to volunteer or take up extra curricular activities can be highly regarded. And besides, volunteering time to give back to the community is good for the soul.
6. Ask for help. Your first year of study can be the hardest as you try to adjust to a whole new world. It’s totally okay to ask for help. Be sure to see if your university has support services like peer mentoring programs, free classes and workshops, academic help and counsellors. It’s included in your uni fees so take advantage of it.
7. Don’t forget to sleep. In fact, make sure you make sleep a top priority. There’s no denying there’ll be a few late nights spent cramming, probably a few all-nighters, but it’s so important to look after your body and your health. No matter how much studying you need to do try to stick to a sensible sleep routine. Believe me, your body will thank you for it and your concentration levels will be so much better.
8. Get international experience. Studying doesn’t mean you can’t travel until you finish your degree. In fact, international experience is highly regarded among employers. Look into your university’s exchange partners or explore Study Abroad options as soon as possible so you can start organising applications, including any applicable scholarships.
9. Learn another language. Learning another language could be highly valuable, and not just so you can order food or bargain down a price while abroad! Many employers see a second language as an advantageous skill. If you don’t take up a language as one of your subjects, check if your uni has a language exchange program.
10. Exercise for your mind and body. Exercise is about so much more than getting a six-pack! Whether it’s walking, running, swimming, working out at the gym or playing Aussie football, there are a million and one budget-friendly ways to keep both your body and mind fit and healthy. When the stress of exam time gets overwhelming, go for a walk, do a yoga class, or sweat it out with a team on the oval.
11. Stop and smell the roses. As you get into the rhythm of uni life it can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind and let time pass by. Keep an eye on all the extra curricular stuff that’s on offer, sign up to activities and groups that interest and challenge you. But, the best piece of advice I ever got was to savour the sweet moments. Every now and then, don’t forget to stop and look around, appreciate where you are and how hard you’re working. Enjoy the ride!