Top tips for your first year

The first day of university can be overwhelming for even the most extroverted of students. You are entering a new environment, meeting loads of new people and on top of that - trying to navigate subject enrolments, timetables and learn where everything is on campus. Starting uni is an exciting experience, but it’s perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed.

Here are some tips on what to expect during your first year of uni so you can totally smash it!

1. Being responsible for yourself is essential

Heads up… you will learn very quickly that you need to manage your time because no one is going to be on your back reminding you of things that need to be done. Before your first day, get organised a couple of days early with your bag, note taking devices (charged laptop or the good old A4 writing book), Go Card, water bottle and class schedule. This will help you feel prepared for your first day, so you have more time to soak it all up!

2. You’re going to have to work hard in your first year of university

If you want that high distinction you must put in the work! Attend class every week and arrive at your lectures and tutorials ahead of time. There is nothing worse than turning up late to a lecture and interrupting everyone (including the lecturer) while you try to find a seat among a crowd which could be up to 500 new students. Pay attention in classes, do the readings, take notes, ask questions, or even form a study group if that’s your vibe. Don’t forget that it’s important to strike the right balance between study and downtime. At the end of the day, you’re here to learn and advance your career but make sure you reach out to friends, enjoy your hobbies and take care of yourself!

3. Practice good study habits

Studying smart will not only benefit you during university, but after you graduate too. Some good habits include:

Use a calendar to track events and assessments. Whenever you get details about an event, put it in your calendar and use reminders — our brains can’t remember everything!

Take regular breaks to help digest the material and rest your eyes. Try the Pomodoro technique: study for 25 minutes, rest for 5 minutes and repeat.

Create a dedicated study space. Don’t study in a distracting space  like your bed which will make you sleepy. A desk clear of clutter in a quiet space is ideal. Try using a study lamp and turn it on when you're studying —your brain could get used to the routine and switch into study mode when you turn on the lamp.

4. Lead a healthy lifestyle

This is one of our top tips! It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends in your first year - know your limits and when to say no.

Keep a healthy diet. University students are well-known for skipping meals or leaning towards poor dietary choices. Check out these simple tips on how to swap out unhealthy eating habits for healthier ones.

Move your body. When coupled with a poor diet, lack of movement during your study years can affect more than just your physical fitness. Moving your body helps keep a positive mindset, decreases stress and improves your mood. Finding 30 minutes to move is only 2 per cent of your day and you will reap all the benefits.

Don’t stay up too late — you need 8 hours of beauty sleep to power through the day.

Don’t forget to hydrate - bring a water bottle everywhere.

5. Download UQ Nav

The St Lucia campus can sometimes feel like amaze so make sure you download the UQ Nav app to help you find where you're meant to go. It will save you heaps of time so you may even be able to grab a quick coffee on the way to class.  Even if you do end up lost, don't worry because there will be many others just like you! 

6. Check out the UQ Sharper Minds program

Sharper Minds is a package of resources developed by UQ experts for first year UQ Students’ physical and mental health so you can achieve your best at university. Visit their website for helpful tips on study, mood, physical activity, healthy eating, sleep, and social connection.

7. Get involved

A very exciting chapter of your life is about to start so put yourself out there and make the most of it. Take the opportunity to talk to others, you don’t know who might end up as your new BFF. There are plenty of student clubs on campus that cover pretty much every topic under the sun. We encourage you to learn as much as you can, have fun and enjoy the journey towards you dream career. 

Hopefully, this post has given you some things to think about in your first few weeks starting university. All the best for your first semester and welcome to UQ!

Last updated:
25 January 2023