The beginning of the academic year is about to begin. High school graduates are busy moving out of home into share houses or flats with their besties, while others are moving into on-campus accommodation. Not all university students choose to move out of home to begin their tertiary studies however. Many students will opt to stay at home to avoid the dreaded rental rut and share house shortage and instead aim to maintain a sense of independence despite still living under their parents’ roof. There will also be mature age students returning to study after some time in the workforce, perhaps they will continue to work part time to maintain the lifestyle they have come to enjoy while continuing their tertiary education.
Regardless of their background or dwelling, a new round of uni students bright eyed and bushy tailed are about to step out into the world, a whole new experience opening up in front of them.
For many, university is a rite of passage into adulthood and for others it is the beginning of a path toward a fulfilling career. University is such a vast and varied experience, and will be unique for everyone. However, one thing will be the same for all. To pass, all students will need to study, aiming to learn and retain course content and then apply and demonstrate comprehension through exams, assignments and presentations. Each student will have their own study techniques of course, ranging from the mixed results ‘last minute cramming’ technique or the unverified method of ‘sleeping with textbooks under the pillow’; to more structured and reliable study methods as such as daily revision sessions, taking down easy to follow notes during class, joining peer study groups and carefully consolidating lecture notes and content from textbooks into organised study references.
Regardless of the study technique all students will have a few other things in common too. If you or someone you love is about to start a uni degree, here are a few essentials required in order to get the most out of attending University.
A Study Desk
Even if you love to study outside in a park, prefer coffee fuelled revision at cafe or enjoy a study session in an air-conditioned library, there will still be times a personal desk is required. Studying at the kitchen table amongst crusty cereal bowls and unopened mail or in front of a blaring TV just won’t cut it if you value your education and plan to end the semester and your degree with results you can proudly share with loved ones.
Position your personal study station somewhere private so you can work undisturbed. Your bedroom is the best place if you share a roof with others, so you can easily close the door and retreat into revision when needed. Try to situation your desk near a natural source of light such as a window and find a desk with enough surface area to fit your computer, an in-tray and a few folders. A couple of drawers is handy to store stationary and helps to keep the surface of your desk clear of clutter. The tidier your desk, the more likely you will use it. Choose an ergonomic and comfortable desk chair, one that supports your lower back and allows you to sit with your feet flat on the floor.
Set up an easy to follow filing system within the first week of starting university. By then you will have attended most classes and should have a feel for life as a student. Create a system for each subject. Folders work well, physical folders with colour coded tabs or digital folders on your computer’s desktop both work. Make sure you have somewhere to file (and locate easily) the many notes and reference materials you will be given for each subject. Try to categorise your notes and handouts and aim to do it the day you receive them (or by the end of each week) to keep on top of paperwork.
Stationary is also essential, and while there is so much eye candy in the stationary department, stick to what is functional and practical. At the minimum ensure you have a notebook for each subject and a pencil case with a few pens in varying colour, lead pencils, an eraser, pencil sharpener and a couple of different coloured highlighters. You will also need a diary. Be sure to put all important submission dates, lecture times and tutorial meet ups in your diary so you can keep track of what is due and where you need to be each day. Schedule in time to study each day and stay ahead of assignments. Make sure you also schedule in time for a social life too, one of the best parts of being a student.
Technology and Gadgets
Most high school students need a computer or device for schoolwork these days, so many new uni students will already have their tech requirements met. But perhaps it’s time for an upgrade or to stop using your parent’s laptop. Good news is Australian uni students often have access to quite generous student discounts. For example, Apple provide an ‘education price’ for students and other well-known brands provide discounts for digital software and hardware via student websites such as unidays. Tablets are a handy device to use on campus for quick research sessions and note taking, but a laptop or desktop computer is ideal to store and produce your assignments and build a library of references, notes and past work on your hard drive. Whether you decide to invest in a desktop computer, a laptop or a tablet, make sure you do your research, read reviews and only purchase through an authorised seller and check warranty info before you buy too.
They’re heavy and expensive and one would think that with the rise of e-books, students could get away without even needing textbooks in this modern age. But alas the clunky textbook is here to stay. However, you don’t necessarily have to buy them, certainly not new anyway. You may be able to find secondhand textbooks online or via students on campus and many universities also sell secondhand copies of core textbooks. The university library will have multiple copies of all required reading materials, and while these are often not available to borrow off campus, you will be able to photocopy or scan any set pages you need (each subject will have a detailed reading list). In addition to textbooks there will be recommended reading, which is exactly that, recommended but not essential. Pick and choose which of the recommended reading you want to explore, and try borrowing these from the library rather than purchasing them if you can to save dollars and space.
Take Ownership of Your Degree
At uni it is up to you to finish your degree. Tutors and lecturers won’t ask why you weren’t in class last week or nag you to get your assignments handed in on time. Unlike school, you have to motivate yourself to get work handed in and to attend lectures. If you want to get the most value out of your degree (both your time and the money it will cost you) keep front of mind why you are at university in the first place. Stay focused on the end goal, which is to eventually graduate and find work in a field you enjoy. Try to maintain the perspective that university is also a wonderful opportunity to evolve, learn and connect with new people and communities.
Ultimately your experience of university will be determined by your own attitude and commitment. While in many ways university is a lot of work, it is also more freedom than working full time, and a gateway to rich and rewarding experiences. So, enjoy the liberties of being a student while you can, and aim get the most out of your student days. It might just be one of the best times of your life!
For some more tips on student life, head on over to this article.
Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and entrepreneur. She has been writing on the topics of personal finance and abundance for over 12 years and has featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.