The recipe for success at university

When I started university I didn’t know what to expect. Successfully graduating from high-school was the main goal until that point. Beyond this, I couldn’t really imagine what my life or career would entail. So naturally, I chose to focus my excitement on graduation day, schoolies, and the long summer holidays.

I soon discovered that it’s vital to have a plan, make decisions, and set yourself goals for your first year of university. To help you with the transition to university I’ve shared a few tips that I wish I had known from day one. At the end of the day, uni is something that you have to experience for yourself to understand and fully appreciate. However one thing’s for sure, it will be a year of learning and excitement, both in and out of the classroom. Here’s what you will need for a successful first year;


  • 4 x fresh notebooks
  • 1 x backpack
  • 1 tsp initiative
  • ¼ cup responsibility
  • 1 cup enthusiasm
  • 2 tbs bravery
  • 2 cups determination


Step 1. Put yourself out there

UQ is such a diverse environment and you will have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. Don’t be afraid to take a seat in a lecture next to someone sitting alone – it’s likely they are looking for a friend too! You never know if you’ll sit next to someone from another country or someone from your home town. It’s an easy way to make friends and discuss your class. After all, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

Step 2. Ask for help

Unlike school, where you can always raise your hand in class to ask the teacher a question, sometimes seeking help at university can be more difficult. However, that doesn’t mean help isn’t out there - you just need to have the initiative to ask for it. Most lecturers are more than happy to answer extra questions and explain concepts again but you may have to write a post on Blackboard (you’ll find out more about this later), send an email or make an appointment. UQ even runs extra workshops where you can learn about study and research skills.

Step 3. Take responsibility

Even though there are plenty of people out there to help you, in the end success is up to you. You will no longer have teachers reminding you that assignments will be due soon and, if you move out of home, your parents can’t nag you to do your homework. Ultimately, you have to become your own boss and make sure you don’t slack off in your new found freedom.

Step 4. Don’t be afraid of mistakes

As long as you learn from them. Almost everyone will have a moment during the first few weeks of uni where they make a mistake (big or small). Hypothetically speaking, a student might turn up to the wrong room and sit through 10 minutes of a lecture on thermodynamics before realising its probably not a part of their Speech Pathology program. Additionally, please note that it’s completely normal to get lost on campus (UQ Nav can help prevent this) or forget to sign on for a class. Be prepared for an occasionally bumpy ride and embrace it, after all it’s the best way to improve yourself.

Step 5. Reflect

Before you know it you will be an expert at this whole uni thing, and a few months later you will have finished your first year. Don’t forget to look back on all that you have accomplished throughout year. It may not seem like much at the time but give yourself a pat on the back . Successfully surviving uni is something to be proud of!

All the best for your first year.

Last updated:
17 September 2020