Even six years later I can still remember the first day of my higher education as if it was yesterday. Damn, I almost sh*t my pants stressing out over everything. Thankfully I realized on the bus that a girl from my high school had been accepted to the same training program as me and I relaxed a bit. But waking up at 5:40 a.m. everyday for two years was not easy.
The thing with university is that it’s so different from high school life-wise and learning-wise that it can be very overwhelming at the beginning. Because I’m now a graduate, I wanted to pass on the torch to help you freshers to get organized and on top of everything – well, as best as possible, a bump in the road is inevitable.
I realized this should probably be tip no.1 when my little sister who just started uni called me crying because she couldn’t find the building she had a class in because she confused two buildings who have part of the same name.
I’m such a control freak that every time I’m somewhere new I have to know the map of everything so that I know where I am. I would say as soon as you can look at a map of the city you are going to study in if it’s new to you and look for main structures like supermarkets, shops, well-known buildings and areas, etc… It’s always good to get to know your bearings early on. Same goes for your campus. Look at an updated map and locate the library, where you can it, the computer rooms, etc… and if you already have your timetable, locate the buildings you will have classes in to save some time and stress.
I would say the earliest the better. First things first, will you be taking notes on your laptop or notebooks? Then create folders and documents or decide which notebook from which subject accordingly. Think about every piece of stationary you might need, the size of your bag back, lunch boxes if necessary, a glass water bottle, a few snack bars, etc…
I’m a schedule obsessed if I’m honest. I love planning out my weeks and in University this turned out to be a major point in how efficient and organized I was. Knowing how my week was going to plan out in terms of classes, incoming assignments, group work meetings, workouts, studying sessions, meals with friends,… is going to help you to first and foremost not forget to do something (“oh sorry I forgot we were to meet at 4pm! I’ll be right there…”) and also to feel on top of everything which is always a huge anxiety relief.
You must be thinking “yeah, right…” and I’m not blaming you. No matter how much I told myself to start right after my first class to study I never really did and ended up in a whirlwind of stress at the upcoming test because I didn’t start early enough. I know how hard it is after a 2-3 months of holidays to forget how to study or just have a hard time getting back to it but it really helps to learn things faster and to have a solid base of knowledge for the next further classes.
Um, group work, not my favorite if I’m honest. At the start of every academic year I would dread group works because you can never know who is good to work with and who you should nicely say “maybe another time?” to.
If you are lucky enough to know someone in your class already who is hard working and will not let you down, they go straight to them, if you don’t, the first group work may be a learning curve for you, positively or negatively unfortunately. I would say, without sounding like a total freak, to try to set guidelines for how you’ll work together from the start like when do you work together during the week (morning? afternoon? evening?), for how long, let them know when you’ll work on it best on your own so they know when they can contact you to ask questions etc. Group work really prepares you to work with other people who don’t have the same approach as you but as annoying it can be sometimes, it’s also a great way to develop how you can study differently and to make compromises.