Hi, my name is Lauren and I’m the Study Skills Advisor here at Yunggorendi and this is, I hope, the first of a series of blogs aimed to help you discover some of the tricks of the academic trade and, basically, learn some tips about how to survive at university.
And the first blog is really this in a nutshell: Welcome to University!
First of all, congratulations. If you’re reading this, not only have you made it here – which is in and of itself amazing — but you’re engaging. That means you’re already being active about your learning and your experience here as a student. So, before we go anywhere else, kudos. Seriously.
You’ve made it, but I bet you’re feeling a huge assortment of feelings. You’re probably excited, nervous, maybe low-key terrified?
Well, the good news (is it good news?) is that everybody feels the same. Yes — everyone! When you look around you may see a bunch of people excitedly chatting to new friends about how pumped they are for the beginning of this bright new semester, but deep down they’re just as excited, just as nervous and just as low-key terrified as you are. And that’s okay! All of those feelings you’re feeling are totally normal.
And there’s good reason for this. Maybe you’re the first person in your family to attend university? If this is the case, you might find that your family or close networks don’t understand the kinds of pressures that you’re under or the emotional experiences that you’re going through. Or, they might not have the kinds of prior knowledge that can help prepare you for academic life.
Or maybe your family don’t support you coming to university? Sometimes our own values about education, and the wants and goals that we have for ourselves are different to the expectations of our families. You may find that there are competing expectations put on you, and you might feel split between your family responsibilities and your studies.
Or maybe you’ve just moved to the city away from your family for the first time? If this is the case, you might feel isolated, and not just lonely, but disconnected from your community and the kinds of values and knowledge that you know and make you feel safe.
Maybe you don’t feel academically prepared? There are a huge range of pathways into university, and while this is excellent because it allows learners from all kinds of diverse backgrounds to access higher learning, it also means that you might feel like you’re starting on the back foot.
Yunggorendi, including myself as study skills advisor, Michelle and the ISSOs who can hook you up with tutoring, and Heath from Health and Counselling, are all here to help you with these issues, and make this transition a little bit easier for you. So please never be afraid to ask us for help. Because this transition is hard! In your first year, you’re going to experience a bunch of ups and downs as you adjust, and you may feel like you’ve just stepped onto some kind of ridiculous, nowhere-near-as-fun-as-Dreamworld rollercoaster. And that’s why I’m calling this post Welcome to the Rollercoaster.
Here’s a little rundown of what you can expect of the highs and lows of your first semester.
You may begin on a high – it’s pretty exciting after all. You’ve got your books, you’re enrolled in classes and you can’t wait to get started.
But then you do start and suddenly there is soooo much information! What are your lecturers talking about? Who is SAM? You can’t even find a place to part your car let alone find your lecture theatres! (don’t worry, you’ll get used to the climb to Siberia soon).
Luckily, this won’t last forever. You’ll start to adjust as you meet new people, settle in, attend a free barbecue or two, and maybe even submit your first assignment. You’ll start to find your feet and feel like you’ve got this university thing after all.
By now you might have also figured out that attendance isn’t always compulsory, and you have all these free hours in your schedule (you don’t — it’s a trap!) So maybe you start using these hours to spend more time with your family and taking care of responsibilities, or, maybe these new friends of yours keep inviting you to the Tav. You’ll start to find that the split between study time, home time and recreation time isn’t as neatly divided as it may have been at high school or in your previous employment.
Then, suddenly, it’s mid semester. You have a bunch of assignments due (probably all at the same time because, sorry guys, that just how it works), and you’ll be feeling the strain of all those readings piling up (and this academic speak they all employ is basically foreign!) You might also encounter some new types of assessment, or find that the types of resources you’re used to using aren’t considered acceptable anymore (and what even is peer review anyway?)
When you start to get some feedback on your assignments though, you might realise that while it’s not perfect (or maybe it is, good for you!) you still did it. You started, finished and submitted something, and that’s an achievement. Suddenly, the rest of the semester seems achievable. Hell, the rest of your course seems achievable!
Basically, the first semester is going to be a rollercoaster of the most intense, exciting, frightening, and nerve-wracking experiences, but what is really important for you to know — and what I really want for you to take away from this first post — is that it’s normal. If you expect the peaks and troughs of the semester, you won’t be quite so shook when they hit you in the face – because they will. But there’ll also be a bunch of good stuff. You’re going to meet new friends and you’ll find yourself challenged in ways you never expected. You’re going to grow in your confidence and your abilities, and all of those things are going to be awesome.
In my next post, I’ve got the low down on some actual strategies for managing this transition, so head on over!
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