What every first year needs to know

They say the best years of our lives happen at university. And it could be true for some, but not others. Let’s face it, when you’re at varsity you don’t have much responsibility, except for passing those modules. Your life is carefree and you finally have the taste of new found freedom. It’s a time of meeting new people, embarking on new ventures and pulling all-nighters. But there are some things that come as a surprise, making it hard for others to cope and do well.

Here are some things you should know before you start varsity.


You are finally out of your parent’s house and away from their strict rules. Now you’re in university and you can sleep in and bunk classes. Right?

You could not be more wrong, you need to attend those classes, participate in discussions and ask the necessary questions in tutorials. Lecturers usually give vital information and handy tips that you will need for your tests and exams. They even let you in on what’s worth studying and what you should leave out. If you flunk classes you might end up failing that course, which means you have just wasted your or your parents’ money.


Varsity is very different to high school. There will be no school teacher spoon feeding you or following you for your work. In high school, the teacher might let ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse slide. But at university, there are usually no second chances. Unless it’s a plausible reason, like an illness or death in the family. You need to do those assignments and any extra work which will contribute to your term mark. You are solely responsible for how well you do at university.


As much as you should work hard, you should also play. Your body needs to relax and it’s important to shut down. At varsity, you will juggle assignments, tests and studying, and you need to unwind. Do something different that will take your mind off your workload. Try new hobbies, take up a sport you have never done, or just relax by reading a book. University should be a period of meeting new people and experiencing new, exciting things.

Making friends

There are thousands of students at university and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Making new friends can be extremely hard when you first start university. Especially If you don’t live in res. If you attend tutorials it will be easier to make friends because the classes are small. Open yourself up and try new things, get involved. Join special societies and groups at university and use the opportunity to meet people.


Textbooks are extremely expensive when you buy a brand new edition. There are many cheaper alternatives when buying your textbooks. Ask around on campus for any students who are willing to sell their old books to you. Bookshops also usually sell second-hand textbooks for a much cheaper price. You can also use your library and borrow the textbook you need there and make notes at home.

Part–time job

Get a part time job. Your parents might have bought you a snazzy used Ford and you always need to fill up the tank to get around. You need to play your part Get a part-time job where you can make money to pay for the fuel.


Go visit your lectures. At university, your lecturer’s door is always open. This could make a difference between you doing well in school or just barely making it. Lecturers will give you one-on-one attention. And you will be able to ask about any topic you don’t understand and that is giving you problems. The lecturer will also be more inclined to be relaxed and open because they’re not in class, and  don’t have work to rush through.


Don’t procrastinate. If you want to avoid feeling overwhelmed and under pressure at the end of the semester, then don’t leave things to the last minute. Go through your work and make notes every day. There will be a time that you might have four tests in one week and also assignments that you have to submit. The lecturers give you these date in advance so that you are fully prepared and are not caught off guard. By leaving things for the last minute, you will just be making life harder for yourself. Learn to plan ahead and you will be left feeling in control.

Varsity can be an amazing, educational experience that is meant to propel you to greater heights. Preparation will lead to excellent marks and peace of mind. If you are organised and diligent, varsity will be a breeze. And if you can mix that formula with spending time with friends and unwinding, then varsity should be an incredible experience. If you do it right, varsity can be some of the best years of your life. It’s a place where you can grow and learn.

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