I’m going into uni this September for engineering and am kind of nervous to start a new phase in my life without parents and old friends and whatnot (my uni is about 4 hours from home by train). I was wondering if you guys had any tips about how to get used to the new environment, time management, etc?
Hi @Mellie ! I’m Bean, I’m second year university right now! Now, I’m not sure what kind of university you’re going to (America uni and English uni and allll the other Unis are very different haha) but here’s some general tips:
-if you’re in a dorm, meet up with your dorm mates at least once. Decide if they’re worth being friends with (some of them won’t be, some will) and make friends as best as you can. Even if you don’t like them, get all their phone numbers… Just in case you get locked out.
-new environments are always tricky, take it a day at a time and, for the first week or so, treat it like an odd little holiday, or a school trip. By the time a month has passed, it’ll feel like a natural progression of time.
-you will feel homesick. Call your friends, chat on discord or Facebook or whatever. Just because they’re far away doesn’t mean they don’t still care about you!
-I have no tips about time management except this: check your uni email twice a day. Morning, before uni, and lunch, in case your afternoon lessons have been changed. I don’t stick to this but I’m in a studio based course so it’s not as important for me as it will be for more lesson-based courses.
Most importantly, believe in yourself. You will make friends, you will get through the worry and struggles, and it’ll make you stronger. If things aren’t going well, uni services can and will help. And there’s no harm in taking breaks to go home if you need! I hope it turns out wonderful for you!
Good luck starting out! I’m also in my first year of uni (the end of my first semester to be exact) and I’m a local student doing humanities so I won’t be much help academically…
I think definitely try to get involved in your uni’s community in some way! Mine has discord chats and a variety of Facebook groups, and if yours has something similar it’d be a great way of making friends, seeing whats happening and getting help from your peers :’)
Thanks @SabineBean and @Nimuir! I’m in Canada for uni and already know my roommate through high school (I actually know quite a few people going to the same uni as me, the thing I guess I’m more worried about is that I do a really bad job of keeping in touch with people that I don’t see on a regular basis). I’m also in the facebook groups but they tend to be very quiet.
It’s hard to keep in touch with everyone @Mellie , I have a similar problem! But the best way to go about it is to gather a nice small group of close, close friends, and let other friends naturally buzz about like friendly bumblebee’s. That way there’s no gigantic group to be committed to, but you still get all the love and affection (as well as being able to share your own!) That you need.
@Mellie I’m not sure how different British Uni is to American Uni but some tips I’d give you is to make friends with your house mates and join in activities going on!
(You said high school above so I’m assuming you’re US )
Thanks @Rimor, we do have something like an orientation week so I’ll be sure to participate in that!
Orientation week is a major help! I wasn’t able to take part in mine as I was late getting there. But when I ran it the next year it definitely helped the new folks! Also I’d say keep in touch with your family as much as you c an as for me they were a big emotional support!
I’m closing in on my 10 year college reunion, so accuracy of early specifics may vary.
We did have a get-to-know-the-campus thing that lasted a couple days, don’t remember a single person from that, myself. I didn’t know any of the 11 roommates I had throughout my time in my room over the years (3 person room, only one year had the same 2 roomies the whole year), so not sure how knowing them in advance would affect things…
I would definitely discuss schedules with them, and if you use an alarm make sure it’s by your head. There was a bit of a…thing about a week in because I would have my alarm go off fairly early, but there wasn’t a place near the head of the bed to put it so it was far enough that I thought the song was in my dream so I didn’t get up right away… (I had an actual alarm clock back then)
My dorm was an old hotel, so bathrooms will probably not be the same set up. If they do happen to be shared between rooms rather than an entire floor, and those using it are in charge of cleaning it themselves, definitely have a meeting with everyone to come up with a schedule. I have some anecdotes for that, too.
As far as making friends, the ones that I keep in touch with kind of happened on their own. The first one was in my…what was basically a glorified orientation class to try and get people invested in staying at the school. We ended up at the cafe after class, and she mentioned a used book store just down the street that she was going to check out and asked if I wanted to come too. We also shared another class, and I think both of the other two were in that one as well (or just one and the other was in a class with one of the other two). Basically a theater major, English major, and two education majors all bonded over Harry Potter and took it from there.
I also ended up with dining hall friends after a year or two, mostly deaf education majors, I think. We’d eat together when our schedules allowed.
As for extracurriculars, I only ever joined my major’s honor society. Then again, I was working on at least one show every semester, so that kind of took up other time.
I kept in touch with high school friends through instant messaging and Facebook (I think it was the years just before they opened it to those without college emails), and family were either IMs during the week or via phone. I was about an hour away, so I’d usually go home weekends to do laundry if I could.
Making friends is easy: find people with cool hair, compliment them, then ask them if they’re interested in [insert your fav hobby/game here]. I basically made my first uni friends by asking who wanted to play DnD! I’m in with all the cool kids now (by which I mean the nerds, witches and punks, bless em all, I love them so much)
Hey Mellie! I’ve been out of college about six years myself (I studied in Ontario!) but like a true Thornmouth I’ve actually never stopped studying and am finishing up a degree online at the moment.
I absolutely echo what everyone else says about community and keeping in touch. Other things I might toss in there are…
- Find a self help routine and stick to it. Even just an hour a week can be super helpful and can be conjoined with a hobby. It helps you keep a foot in the “real world” and keep some kind of perspective on what’s going on at college, which can be all consuming. For me, that was volunteering at the local yoga studio on Sunday nights and getting a class in when I worked. That helps you keep some of your identity through it all.
- If possible, get a second locker or some other private space and keep it filled with snacks at all times. Bonus if you can get several people in on it!
- Embrace conflicting points of views. This one is a bit more abstract. One of my biggest frustrations in college was when one prof taught the opposite of another. I liked being able to label and integrate everything, but all the juicy stuff happens when people disagree - and that’s a great place to live in when doing projects/writing papers/brainstorming ideas.
Most of all, though, have a great time! Even if you do keep learning throughout life it’s unlikely it’ll be the primary focus of what you do after this phase, so soak it all in
I’ve just finished my first year at a British uni, so things might be a little different across the pond, but I’ve picked up a few tips
During lectures, don’t madly write down everything your lecturer says, or puts up on slides. You’ll end up behind, or writing down irrelevant stuff, and your notes will be a confusing mess. There are a couple of better ways to do things, but my preferred method is to take down important statements, information that can be expanded on, and then outside of the lectures, make a more detailed set of notes, with my own research added in and points expanded. It’s a little more work, but it gives you a much more solid base to work with, and really helps both in exams and if you have a module that builds off of previous content. If you look up stuff on note taking vs note making, that might help you find the best way to make the most of your notes.
If possible, try to record your lectures/seminars. It’s super helpful to have the audio to go back too - if there’s a confusing point in your notes, you can hear what the lecturer said about it again, or if the lecturer went a little too fast for you, you can slow it down a little. Some unis have subscriptions to software that does this, either personal or on the lecturers end, but that’s uni dependant so you’d need to check where you’re going. Also, if you are recording, always check that it’s okay with the lecturer first, it’s incredibly unlikely that they will say no, but by most countries laws, permission is needed.
Utilise the library. University libraries are normally incredibly well stocked, and the staff are normally some of the most informed people you will ever meet and willing to help. Often times even if they don’t have the exact book you need, they can get it for the library much cheaper than you could buy it for. I know textbook prices can be extortionate, so any books you don’t have to buy is money saved.
Get to know the staff you interact with often, not just lecturers. Most uni staff work full time everyday, often longer hours than they should, and see hundreds of students. If they remember who you are, for a positive reason, they tend to be a little more flexible - extend a deadline if you need it, more understanding if you miss a lecture. Also, they are super overworked and people should be nice to them anyway, they really need a break.
Find friends that are not studying what you are. Everyone needs a break occasionally and if all of your friends are on the same module you are, it will drift back to work based topics. Join a society about something you really love and you’ll meet people that you can hang out with and not think about the exam you just took or the essay due in two weeks. Some of my best and closest friends I met through a society and they aren’t studying anything close to what I am, and it’s great. We hang out, we play silly board games and get beaten at magic the gathering, and it’s a much needed get away from constant uni stress.
I realise now that I have basically written an essay so I’ll cut it off there. I could probably go on for hours, but then you’d get tips like “buy fairy lights” and “drink water” which are probably not that helpful .
I definitely echo what @BarkbytheGrace says about the library. I’m actually no longer in term-time (we had our end of year show already! Illustration be like that) but I still go to the library sometimes… Mostly because it’s the only place aside from a very expensive café that is open 24/7, but that’s besides the point. Or maybe it is the point? A lot of uni libraries are open til ridiculously late even if not 24/7, so they’re great for late night studying or if you can’t sleep and want to wander somewhere!
The poor librarians here have seen me stumble in at 2am on a Wednesday night because I forgot about some coursework more times then either of us would care to admit . I bonded with one of them over the band hoodie I was wearing once
I’m not sure if it was mentioned yet, but remember to take time for yourself!
I’m finishing my second year and I know multiple people who have tried to pull all-nighters to get some studying in (last minute and not) and then have fallen asleep either during studying or in the middle of lecture/exam time. If you need a break, take it - even if you also need to study. Knowing some things with a good rest is always better than thinking you know everything but you can’t focus long enough to prove it.
Absolutely @Ignis is right. All-nighters do work fine for some, and are sometimes necessary, but generally they are absolutely not a goal. If you do feel that it’s desperate enough to pull an all nighter do it safely:
-eat LOTS during the times you’re awake (trust me. You’ll need the energy to make up for lost sleep)
-not just junk food! You straight up need a fourth meal of the day.
-NAP. Trust me. A short nap or two will save you
-caffiene will keep you awake but it will also ruin your focus. Keep to small amounts.
-go for a walk when you really can’t concentrate. Yes it’ll be the middle of the night. Yes it might be a bit scary. You don’t gotta walk outside! Just around the library can help
-as with any kind of studying, take breaks!
-if your head hurts, that’s your finishing point. Have a nap there, minimum.
And last, and most importantly: NEVER DO IT TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW. Unless you’re literally an insomniac or something else is physically keeping you from sleeping, get you that sleep! Even if you’ve gotta do it in the daytime, a nap at lunch or something. Sleep is important.
Lots of good advice here, but I’ll add a few extra things:
- Take advantage of the free things offered by your university. Your school’s website should have a list of things. Take advantage of things like the rec center, for instance. Also, if you are running low on funds, see if your university has a food pantry - this is surprisingly common. Another somewhat terrible tip is to look at events going on, because they may be giving out free food or other things. At my current university, the school I’m currently at has a thing like “Donuts with the Dean” where anyone who shows up gets entered in a raffle for free things, like $500 bookstore gift cards, free parking passes, etc.
- I highly advise against all-nighters. I know there’s some real advocates for them, but the honest truth is that your studying all night is likely to be low quality because you’re not sleeping right. You would be better off to get a good night’s rest and study for less time than damage your health in the hopes you’ll get a bit more info memorized. Get that 8 hours of sleep.
- Take advantage of your phone’s calendar. When you know your schedule, put your classes into your phone. Same with due dates. Any time you have an obligation, add it. I know this sounds like a simple thing, but it’s a game changer to have all your weekly obligations laid out.
- Use technology to your advantage. Highly recommend recording lectures. If phones aren’t banned, you can also take pictures of slides. Many professors will upload their slides either before or after - if you know they will do this, then focus on recording what they’re saying rather than what’s on the slides.
- Don’t buy your books from the bookstore. Look them up on Amazon/Ebay/Chegg first because they will be much cheaper. You can also look for older editions in some cases.
- Clubs are a really great way to get involved. It never hurts to go to a meeting or two, you might meets some cool people!
- Meal prep is super important. There are lots of tutorials online on how to cook. Brothers Green Eats is a good channel. If you have a meal plan and are living on campus, this is less of a concern.
My advice: get invovled in clubs/sports. My first year (I’m 3rd year about to graduate in July) was really boring cause I didn’t really get invovled outside of my school. The minute I signed up for the Uni archery club in my second year, it was so much better. More people to interact with, and (if you’rea nything like me) a way to get out of your accomidation and do something other than studying. I don’t know if you’ll have like a Societies faire or something, but if you do deffinately go!
To add to what others have said about flat mates: trust me, you’ll want to get on their good sides even if you’re not “friends”. I’ve been in halls every year, and it’s really sucked cause I’m increadibly shy when meeting new people and didn’t get to know any of them.
Also also, I don’t know what you guys do, but we get kicked out of officials Uni halls after first year here, and have to find private accomidation. If this is the case, make sure you start thinking who you might live with around xmas. You’ll want to get to know people, see what they’re thinking about doing. It’ll save you a lot of hassel in the long run if you can rent with good friends.
…I’ll try and resist the urge to add an essay to all the good stuff here. If things get bad, ask for help, it’s what it’s there for! The university might have resources you don’t expect, and they’ll almost certainly have seen people with your problem before. Good luck and have fun!
Hi! I just graduated from college and here are a few things that saved me:
- if your class size is small, never sit in the back. The professors at my school always went straight for the students in the back.
- If you’re going to a private university like I did and have to do convocation hours, get them done sooner rather than later. My friends waited until the last semester to try and get all of theirs done and they were super stressed.
- get a fan for your dorm. they get HOT!
4)The librarians are your friends! most of my classes made us use research from actual books and articles so the librarians were life savers. They love helping!
- Never be embarrassed to talk to your parents on FaceTime. Once I did it and my friends saw that I wasn’t embarrassed we all called our moms on FaceTime every day.
- bring your own toilet paper and hide it in your dorm! my school used the worst cheap stuff and literally we were all hiding stashes of the good stuff. You may think it doesn’t matter, but after a month the little things really can help.