5 Essential Things You Need to Do When Starting Uni
New Year, New Semester – You’ve got this! Leanne Elliott equips us with her top tips for starting out the academic year.
Starting your University year on the right foot can make the semester flow smoothly, reduce assessment-related stress, and help you to cultivate a positive and memorable Uni experience. These simple tips may sound cliché – obvious even – but even doing a few of the things listed below can make a huge difference to your year.
Organise, Organise, Organise
Organise your computer so that you can easily find your course work and information. This can seem like a pain in the neck to do, but when you are in a panic looking for the course outline, tomorrows’ reading, or, a draft version of an assessment, you will be thanking the heavens you set your computer filing system up properly.
Next, organising your calendar. Most people work with digital calendars nowadays, but this works for both digital calendars and old school planners. Make a little time to sit down and put in all the important dates for your courses, such as assessment due dates, presentation dates, study dates. If you want to be super organised, try also colour coding your different classes. It is also good practice to add a reminder to your calendar one or two weeks before an assessment is due, to help keep you on track.
Then there is your transport. How are you going to get from A to B? Work out what buses or transport you can use to get to and from Uni, and plan where your best parking spot will be. Some carparks can be a bit of a walk to classes, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get from the bus or car to class, or find out what shuttles are available to get you around campus.
Make Your Space Study Smart
While some classes on campus have resumed, many are still also being offered online. So, setting up your study space to help you study smarter is a must-do for those students who cannot make it to campus, or prefer to study from the comfort of home.
Eliminate any distractions. Remove or turn off any televisions, airplane mode your devices, clear that unnecessary clutter (and keep it clear), and make space for your books, folders, and study notes, so you don’t have to waste time looking for things. If you have space, get creative and make a visual planner for the semester to put on your wall. Why not pop a few affirmations on there too, to give you inspiration at 2am when you are finishing that essay you should have finished last week.
Make sure your study space is in a spot where you get a good internet connection. There is nothing worse than losing your connection when uploading assessments or doing an online class. Buying a decent sized USB and SD card is handy for students who use different computers around campus, and in general, it is also a good way to ensure you back up your work regularly.
Know Your Support Systems
All Universities have various support systems in place for students. Getting to know your universities different support systems is vital for new (and existing) students. UON provides numerous support services to students, including academic, personal, and IT support. There are also online tools available to students.
For anything related to a specific course, if it is not urgent, the best person to contact is usually your tutor or lecturer. You can also ask course-related questions in most class Discussion Forums on Blackboard. For UON students, ASKUoN is a university knowledge base with links to information on thousands of frequently asked questions.
Finding Your Way Around
Navigating your way around university, both on-campus and online, can be daunting at first, but taking time to explore can save time in the long run and build your confidence working within these different environments.
It is a good idea to get familiar with the MyUoN site or app, which functions as a student dashboard and provides students with quick access to things, such as email, timetables, Blackboard, Office365, links to various student services, and university notifications.
Also, getting to know Blackboard can end up saving you precious time. Student course Blackboards will often have a different layout, so make sure you know where to find things, such as assessment information, course announcements, discussion boards, and course readings. Blackboard also offers handy features. For example, it is an easy way to emailing people in your class for group assessments or your tutor with a question. Recorded lectures are also hosted on your class Blackboard, and it is where most students are required to submit their assessments.
I can not stress enough how important it is getting to know your way around the various online Library tools, catalogues, and physical libraries. First-year students will usually have help learning how to navigate the UON libraries, but you can also ‘Book A Librarian’ appointment if you would like a little extra guidance from our awesome Library staff. Uni libraries are one of my favourite places to catch up on study when I am on campus because they offer a host of different atmospheres and people. When you have some spare time, why not browse the different sections relevant to your courses, so that when you are looking for that perfect book to reference or author to quote in your essay, you know exactly where to go?
And, if you didn’t get a chance to go on a campus tour during O-Week, it is a good idea to make sure you know your way around campus – trust me, I speak from experience. This can help save time (and energy) and help prevent that awkward moment when you walk into class late covered in mosquito bites and sweating from the trek you just had to make across campus. So, be sure to bookmark the links for your campus maps and contacts.
Enjoy the Experience
When all is said and done, yes, prepping for Uni can make your life easier, but make sure to include time for you by doing what you enjoy. Joining a club or society is a great way to extend your social network, getting involved with the awesome team of student volunteers can be a super rewarding experience, or catching up for a few drinks at one of the various watering holes on campus to cap off the week. If you are keen to do something away from campus, check out some of our previous articles for inspiration, Things to do in Newcastle!, Newcastle’s Best Beaches, 10 Things To Do Over Summer Break.