5 tips to get you through first year

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Fresh out of high school or right out of a gap year, you are probably freaking out about starting your first year of studies. Whether you choose to do marketing courses, a diploma in design or a full on law degree, the same rules apply.

1. Time to prioritise

First thing’s first, sort out your priorities. On the top of your list should be: where all your classes are, how you will get to class on time, who your lecturers are and how much your morning coffee is going to cost at the campus cafeteria.

All jokes aside, you need to be serious about what is important throughout the entire year. Yes, sacrifices will need to be made. Wine festivals may have to wait and your textbooks, spineless as some may be, will end up being your Saturday night dates. First year is not an excuse to cut corners and when your peers start to question your success, feel free to share this priority tip of prioritising priorities.

2. Organise your study environment

Now that you have your priorities in order, it makes no sense to have your study space in disorder. A suitable study environment is made up of so much more than new notepads aligned with the corner of your desk, accessorised by colourful pens and captioned on Instagram as “Time to study”. If that is your idea of organised, you’re kidding yourself into a stressful year ahead.

Find an environment with minimal distractions. Distractions include unnecessary technology and apps (Candy Crush won’t help you pass your exam), noisy surroundings such as roommates or the electro club next door, and tasks on your to-do list that are not your current priority; you really can wait to shave your legs, it’s the middle of winter.

You’re going to be spending a fair amount of time here so make sure it’s a pleasant and comfortable space to be in where you are able to access everything you need and only what you need.

3. Put in the hours

Even when no one else will, be the better student and put in the extra hours. People are lying to you when they tell you to sleep with the textbook under your pillow and through the night the knowledge will just come to you. You’re in the first year now, it’s time to be smart and build enduring study habits that will carry you through to the end of your course, diploma or degree.

Don’t think that you need to be studying all day every day, it is healthy to have a balance with some sort of a social life in between all the work. It all comes down to your list of priorities and making sure you give yourself enough time to finish everything that needs to be done. You set your own goals and you will only be stressing yourself out at the end of the day if you compromise every five minutes.

4. Find a friend

You are not the only lost soul wandering around campus and biting your nails from new-found stress. Meet new people and make it a goal to acquaint yourself with at least two people from each of your classes. Better yet, find a friend who is in most of your classes and you will automatically have a study buddy. Afraid to ask questions in class? Find a friend who will back you up when you do or a true friend who will ask them for you.

These are the years you experiment the most and find your independence, it’s no fun doing it on your own. Friends are there to support you during those late-night study sessions and up those dreaded dorm steps after a night out. Connections you make while studying are valuable and throughout your student journey you will be making a lot of them, networking is a real thing.

Also, nap time – in moderation – can be your friend too.

5. Enjoy the student experience

It seems as if books, lecturers and the four walls of a classroom and study room are the sums of what your student experience is. It isn’t. You will find the balance between work and play. Work may take up more time than play, but you are here to learn so be smart about it.

But again, if you have your priorities straight, enjoy yourself, make memories, introduce yourself to new people and stay safe. You are only a fresh first year once in your life.