Pro Tips for First Year Uni Students

It’s that uni time (again).

Welcome first year students and welcome back continuing students – congratulations on remaining at university.

First semester starts soon, and so does orientation, if it hasn’t already. I thought you might appreciate some pro tips to kick start your uni year, reboot your uni mind, or improve a less-than-satisfactory uni experience.

  1. Go to orientation – and make it count


    Always attend orientation.

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but orientation is one of the best ways to settle into uni life.

    Look on your uni’s website – they should have an orientation planner – to find orientation sessions that are best suited to you.

    I recommend attending a session on time management and/or how to organise your study, taking a campus tour, and tagging along to at least one social session – this is the best opportunity to meet people in a similar situation to yourself, and therefore people that you have something in common with.

    Related: Time Management

  2. Find your lecture and tutorial rooms


    Find your lecture and tutorial rooms ahead of time.

    Also, this seems obvious, but I’m not talking about when you have your first class.

    In my first year, I attended Pre O Week sessions, and walked the campus in my down time so that I could find all my classes. Nerdy? Over-enthusiastic? Uncool? You may think so, but I wasn’t the lost one running late to class on the first day.

    This also relates to tip number one. Taking a campus tour in orientation will make sure you’re familiar with the campus – the guide may also show you some shortcuts, which will prove invaluable when you have back-to-back classes.

    Pro tip: Ever heard of the website Lost on Campus? Go. Now.

  3. Walk the area to find the best places to eat


    Weigh your options between the uni’s cafeteria or the nearby food locales.

    Unis should have on-campus restaurants and cafes, some of which will have student meal deals.

    The uni itself might also have a cafeteria of sorts.

    Orientation is the perfect time to scope the area and find the best-priced foods and the sneaky little regular deals they have going on. This way you will know if it’s worth walking further for a cheaper feed.

    Pro tip: Small, quiet, and non-messy items are usually tolerated in lectures and (some) tutorials, and more filling meals are more appropriate for private study time in computer labs and in the library – check the room’s food policy first.

  4. Get organised and stay organised


    As above.

    Like your New Year’s Resolution, it’s easy to get excited for a new semester, and even easier to promise yourself that this is the semester you stay organised the whole time, but what happened last time speaks for itself.

    Tip number one, attending a time management or study organisation orientation session, is a great starting point for this – learning how to manage your time so you get the most out of your day/week/month/semester/year is vital to successful study.

    Even harder than that is learning how to maintain that commitment. Study groups and rewards systems come into play here if you find that you cannot police yourself properly.

    Related: The Benefit of Organising
    Related: Routines v Bad Habits
    Related: Keeping a New Year’s Resolution

  5. Find second hand textbook

    You can buy textbooks other places than at the bookshop.

    You can buy textbooks other places than at the bookshop.

    “Financial hardship” and “uni student” often occupy the same sentence, so you don’t need the extra burden of shiny new books that you’re not even going to use.

    Scour the notice boards at uni, ask at bookshops, and search Facebook for buy/sell/trade groups at your uni – these are gold mines for finding second hand textbooks and course materials, and for selling your uni equipment when you’re finished with it.

    Pro tip: Pluck up the courage in the first lecture to ask how much of the textbook the lecturer will be expecting to draw from to see if it’s worth buying – you’ll do yourself, and likely the majority of your class, a huge favour.


Check out the related articles and my Tips, Tricks, and Experiences posts to find some useful hints for successful study.


Until next time


Images sourced from:

Eastern Indoor Sports Centre. 2014. “Keep Calm and Stay Organised.” Imaged. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Lost on Campus. “Book Shop.” Image. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Lost on Campus. “F-509 Lecture Room.” Image. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Lost on Campus. “Kitchen Kelvin Grove.” Image. Accessed February 17, 2015.

Queensland University of Technology. 2015. “Mid-autumn Festival at QUT.” Image. Accessed February 17, 2015.


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