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The ultimate guide to surviving your first year at university

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When you first enrol at your university, things can be a little overwhelming. You’ve separated from your parents for possibly the first time, and now you are expected to plan out the rest of your life while juggling a full course load… How are you expected to keep up?

Luckily, there are ways to make your university experience a happy and successful one! It all begins in that first year.

Learn how to manage your time well

This can be one of the biggest challenges for people of all ages, but if you can improve on this skill now, it will save you from more all-nighters than you will ever know. Keep a calendar or diary and make lists to stay on top of your assignments. Develop your own organisational methods that work for you, and follow them. They will power you through your most difficult semesters.

Join societies on campus

Outside of the classroom, it is important to get involved at your university through student clubs, volunteer group, societies or other organisations on campus. You will make many new friends this way, but you will also be able to boost your resumé and learn about opportunities you might not hear about in class.

Stay away from all the free food

As a poor student, you will probably be tempted when you see free food at campus events. When I was at university, nearly every event I attended boasted free pizza and snacks, which may be great for your wallet, but not for your waistline. It’s okay to indulge every once in a while, but try to sneak in a vegetable every now and then! Your body will thank you later.

Find a mentor (or two)

Mentors are perfect for that extra support you’ll need in your university years. They provide excellent career and academic advice because they have been there before, and mentors come in all shapes and sizes, from older students to seasoned professionals.

Utilise campus resources

Many universities provide free resources for students, so why not take advantage of these? Your tuition most likely pays for your ability to use these resources, so visit your university’s writing centre, tutoring sessions, career services office or any other departments that are designed to help you.

Talk to people

This sounds simple enough, but many times we let our shyness get the best of us and miss out on potential friendships, relationships and networking opportunities. Talk to people in your classes, organisations and halls. It may be the best decision you’ve ever made!

Step out of your comfort zone

Your university years are the perfect opportunity for personal growth. What better way to achieve that than to step out of your comfort zone? If you’re timid, this could mean talking to someone new (see above). It could also mean joining an organisation that sounds interesting to you or pursuing an opportunity that might scare you a little. Welcome these experiences into your life.

Don’t stretch yourself too thin

You don’t need to be in 20 places at once, so don’t pressure yourself to do more than you can handle. Challenge yourself, but if you find that things have become too overwhelming, reevaluate your choices and think about what is most important to you.

Take care of yourself

Your health should be a priority, especially when you are first transitioning to your new university life. Exercise, adopt a regular sleep schedule, and eat right! With proper nutrition and fitness, you will have more energy to accomplish everything you need.

Sit back and enjoy!

Your university years can become some of your fondest memories and consist of some life-changing moments, so enjoy them! Go in with a positive attitude and don’t look back.

Do you have any more tips on surviving first year at university? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: JogiBaer2 / Flickr

Valerie MosesThe ultimate guide to surviving your first year at university

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