Tips to Survive Your First Year at University

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Casita Team

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26 October, 2022

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6 mins read

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Tips and Advice

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As a new student heading to a university for the first time, going to campus could be worrying, especially with the COVID-19 situation, while contained, still ongoing. However, thinking of university as an exciting adventure you sought to pursue your dream will soothe away your worries. First years can be challenging, fear not though! Here are a few tips to help you cope with the new situation and start your first year of studies successfully.

1. Attend Your Classes Every Day

Whether your classes are traditional, online, or hybrid, showing up on time is still essential to get the best out of the courses. Professors may explain concepts in a way better than your textbooks. They may also add some comments that do not exist in your textbooks and ask questions about them in the final exams. So, taking notes is of crucial importance to understanding the subjects so that you can study them on your own. Make sure you wear a face mask if you have to attend offline lectures, clean your hands regularly, and keep a 6-foot distance from others. 

2. Balance Your Life

Time management is a critical factor in maintaining a healthy study-life balance. Always try to complete your assignments early and do not procrastinate. A recent study shows that procrastination may lead to stress-related health problems like headaches, colds, and flu. Order tasks based on their importance, minimise distractions, and set a timeline to get your work done. You may want to apply the POSEC method, which stands for: Prioritise, Organise, Streamline, Economise, and Contribute. 

3. Develop Your Communication Skills

Communicating with colleagues, professors, university staff, and advisors helps you understand your courses and department policies. Do not be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone. If you face any problem, do not hesitate to ask for help. Some universities offer their students courses in communication skills. Why not register at one if you feel that you are not good at communicating with others, whether written or oral? Learning how to communicate with the people around you at university will help you communicate with your co-workers and managers after graduation.

4. Declare Your Major/Minor Properly 

Pursuing the major that interests you is an important factor. Many universities do not let you declare which major you are going to choose until you finish your first year. Research possible majors and read more about the courses that interest you more from your university website. When it comes to choosing, do not choose courses that you think are the most popular or common ones. Instead, choose the courses that you are interested in because you will be amazed at how well you do in these courses and how well you apply their information to your real life.

5. Work on Your Reading Skills

University work can sometimes be a little too much, and you might not have enough time to get everything done. This is why speed reading is a nifty trick for students to have! You’re obviously not expected to speed read your way through a novel or a hefty research paper, but for small articles and lesson plans, this skill will definitely come in handy! 

6. Ask for Help When Needed

You’re starting a new chapter in your life and educational journey, and it is okay to struggle a little during the process. Asking for help is never wrong nor does it show weakness. When you’re having trouble with your coursework or lectures, do not hesitate to ask tutors for help. And if you face any hitches while settling in, on-campus counsellors and advisors are here for a reason! If you also happen to be in a new country or city for university, you could consult locals and ask for help and guidance on navigating life there. 

7. Make and Follow a Budget

Throughout the year, you will spend money buying food, books, and transportation tickets. To avoid being penniless, set a budget and get an online job as a freelancer to increase your income. To set a budget, calculate your earnings and assign yourself a certain amount each month, add the amount of the first month to a credit card and pay for your needs using your credit card. You can track what you have spent using the mobile app that is attached to your credit card to make yourself stay within your budget. When the first month ends, put in another amount. Do not overuse your credit card or you will end up borrowing money. 

8. Utilise Student Discounts

A wonderful and often overlooked perk of being a student is the student discounts! Your university ID cards can grant you access to an array of discounts for multiple products and services. As part of following your budget and saving your money, make sure to ask about student discounts and find out all the places where your ID card can get you great deals. These discounts could be on groceries, food, clothes, transportation, books, you name it!

9. Make New Friends 

Universities are not only for studying. You can make lifelong friendships at university. It is important to socialise with your new colleagues, but give yourself time before deciding who will be your new best friend. Hang out with different groups and get to know as many colleagues as you can. You will then be able to determine the colleagues who share your same interests and live a similar lifestyle. 

10. Join a Student Club or Organisation

A great way to socialise with people on campus and easily settle in is to join a student club or organisation! These clubs usually allow you to fill your time with something other than coursework, as well as make going to campus a fun experience, and allow you to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds who share your interests. 

11. Explore The City You’re in

If you happen to be attending university in a different city or country altogether, this will be a great opportunity for you to get acquainted with a new place and a whole new culture! Make time to go on city tours and walk around the area where you live. Take advantage of your free time and discover hidden areas of the place you’re in. Educate yourself outside of university and make the best of your time in a new city!

12. Get Enough Sleep at Night

Night sleep plays a vital role in your physical health. There is no doubt that staying up late is a lot of fun, but your brain needs rest to function properly. If you stay up late regularly, you will not be able to study well and produce high-quality work. Try to sleep 7 to 8 hours at night to refresh your mind and avoid health issues.

13. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

To be able to study well and achieve your goals, you should keep a healthy lifestyle. Drinking water is essential as it improves your memory and mood, and keeps you energetic. Eating healthy food is extremely crucial too. You should eat three meals daily, including carbs, proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables. These will affect the way you perform during the day and keep your energy levels high. Furthermore, going to the gym, working out, walking, running, and biking are all very important to keep you fit. They also help you relax and relieve stress.

14. Keep a Clean Place

Keeping a clean space is important. In most cases, this will be your first time away from home, so you need to learn how to keep your space clean, neat, and organised. Decluttering the area that you live/study in is essential for a healthy and beneficial study environment. Engaging in chores will also keep your mind sharp and keep you busy, so learn how to cook, clean, and use the washing machine. 

15. Plan for Your Future

Your future is wide open, and the sky is the limit. Planning for your future helps you achieve your goals. Gathering information from reliable sources, like the university website or its advisors and counsellors, helps you learn more about your university and your field of expertise. This accurate information helps you set your future goals and energises you to do your best to achieve whatever you dream of.

Lastly, always remind yourself why you are in university, whether to obtain a bachelor's degree, get a certificate, secure a better job, improve your skills, or be more knowledgeable about a specific field. Throughout university, give yourself some time to play games, discover new places, or dine out with your new friends. However, do not put off your assignments and waste your time. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Sleep well, eat healthy food, and stay fit. Make your years studying abroad as productive as they can be!


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