How to get through your first year

You spent the past twelve years working hard and now you’re about to transition into a whole new phase of life. You’re probably excited and nervous at the same time about this next step you’ll be taking. By this point, you’ve received tonnes of advice from family and friends. They’ve told you to ensure you enjoy tertiary because it’s one of the best times of your life and to keep your head in the books or else you’ll fail. You should take all their advice but just remember every person’s experience of their first year is different.

After the initial thrill of your new found freedom, you could find yourself feeling overwhelmed. You’ll come across lecturers that scare you off about the high failure rates in their classes, leaving you stressed out before you even start the year. Or you could find yourself feeling anxious about the amount of work you’ll have to get through each semester. But you don’t need to stress if you listen to your lecturers, attend your tutorials and study hard throughout the year. If you do all these, you should do well.

Here are eight things you may encounter in your first year.

Your marks may drop

You could have been a straight A student in high school but suddenly those marks aren’t coming as easily anymore. When you look at some of your marks you could be in shock and feel embarrassed. Don’t panic, just email your lecturer and set up an appointment so they can give you pointers on where you’re going wrong and how you can improve your marks.

Changing courses

Not everyone knows exactly what they want to do with their life from the get-go. For example, you could have started out wanting to be an accountant but as the year goes by, you realise you can’t picture yourself crunching those numbers for the rest of your life. And you decide you want to switch gears and study a human resource management course. You could feel bad for wasting your parent’s money, but it’s better to change courses while you’re in varsity than spending years stuck in a career you hate.


If you leave things till the last minute you could fail your class and that means you’ve just wasted your money. In varsity, you’ll need to learn time-management skills and know how to prioritise your work. Find the study tools and techniques that can help you to manage your work. And then you won’t find yourself having to pull all-nighters and cramming a semester’s worth of information in one night.

Studying should begin well in advance of all your semester’s tests. You should make notes about what you learned each night. So, by the time the tests dates are near you’ll already have learned a chunk and you won’t have to stress about spending the entire night highly caffeinated and trying to squeeze in last minute information.

Join a study group

When you join a study group, make sure they’re serious about studying and won’t spend the whole night discussing-anything-but the subject you’re supposed to be working on.


Your brain needs rest from books but just make sure you don’t take long, unproductive breaks. Spending hours on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account won’t make you pass those finals.


Find a study method that suits you. Everyone is different and a study technique that works for one person might not work for the next. You can study by drawing diagrams, using flashcards, or maybe you prefer studying by speaking out loud.

Group assignments

Seeing the words group assignment in a study guide usually fills most people with anxiety and dread. Unfortunately, you’ll be forced to do group assignments. In every group, you’ll encounter different characters. They’ll range from the leech who wants to do absolutely nothing but will take the credit for the work they haven’t done and the controlling perfectionist who wants everything done their way. Group assignments can be tricky to handle but do the best you can on the part you’re given. And set a schedule for your team on when work has to be done, before the deadline.


Freedom comes with responsibility. Bunking classes may seem like a good idea on a cold rainy day when all you want to do is sleep in. But if you make the decision to attend classes you may thank yourself later. Attending lectures is important because you’ll have the work explained and summarised by your lecturer.

If you pay attention in class, study ahead of time and attend all your classes you could do extremely well in varsity. Just make sure you also have enough time for your friends and going out. After all, work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

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