These tips are designed for anyone starting a new year at university (including returning students), but can apply to anyone starting a course. These are based on my own experiences and are my own opinions. Of course, this year is slightly different with many students studying online for at least some of their course, but hopefully they can help going forward as well.
1. Find out where you need to go for your classes in advance. On your first morning you will already be nervous and apprehensive about what’s going to happen so getting lost will just add to your stress levels. If you can, get a map of the campus from the administrative office, or download one from your university’s website. If you have the time, find the room where you need to go to on your first morning in advance so you know exactly where to go.
2. If possible, get to your classes early. Not only can you choose where you want to sit, you can have time to relax and get out any books, pens etc. that you need. It’s also a great opportunity to meet other students and talk about the course. This can make it easier if you need to do any group work as you will already know some (hopefully friendly) faces. Arriving early can also ensure you have time to turn your phone on silent as well.
3. Usually at the beginning of a course there will be a lot of information about assignments given. Take down as many notes as you can so you are aware of what you will be expected to do. If certain books need to be read, you can pre-plan your reading schedule and not have to cram it all in last minute. If you need to order specific textbooks or other materials you can also give yourself time to make sure you have everything for when you need it.
4. I would highly recommend putting all of the key course dates in a diary, on your phone calendar, or just anywhere where you will see them and not be likely to forget about them. These key dates could be assignment hand-in dates, presentation dates, workshops, extra seminars, guest talks – it depends on the course. However, every course will have multiple dates you need to know about and work towards, so it’s always best to be organised and know exactly when they are. They can suddenly creep up without you realising.
5. If you have any worries or questions about the course, it’s a good idea to set up a class group, which could be on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or any other platform that all of the class will use. It’s very useful to use it in order to tell others if you’re not going to be able to attend classes, if you have general questions on assignments, or have anything else to say about the course. Chances are, other people will want to know answers to the same questions you have and people will be happy to join a group when you are all in the same boat. If your course has course representatives, it’s also a good tool to have to express thoughts and opinions on aspects of the course.
One tip I didn’t put on there was to try and enjoy it. You may be studying, but you will be doing more than that – you will be learning a lot about a subject you enjoy, meeting new people, and starting a new phase in your life.
Do you agree with my top tips? Do you have any others? Feel free to comment below.