University Tips: What I Wish I Knew as a First Year

Photo by Jason Tong

Four years ago I thought I would be applying for USYD”s combined Science and Dietetics degree. I was sure I wanted to pursue a career as a dietician and had convinced everyone around me too. But, like many things in life you never actually know what’s around the corner. March 2013 marked the start of my Uni life at USYD, studying Business. Now coming to the end of my degree having majored in Marketing and HR/Management and having done a range of subjects from Psychology to Commercial Law, I thought I’d share some tips from my experience.

Planning is key

Work out which days subjects run so you can organise your timetable to best suit your needs (everyone wants a day off during the week!). I know this is sometimes not possible depending on your degree. But if you have the flexibility like I did with choosing subjects then why not.

Online lectures are a life saver

I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I had to go to all my lectures (It’s a tough choice between a 9am lecture and a sleep in). I know I’m not the only one when I say that for some of my subjects I never saw the lecturer. Online or on campus — either way, I did see the value in always listening or attending lectures (I never missed a single one). The content is inevitably going to be examined or tested someway or another. (Side note — stay up to date with lectures because when it comes to exam time you don’t want to be listening to week 3’s lecture).

Take note

I was never one to copy and paste slides onto word and then reformat. For me lecture slides gave me the foundation, and my notes scattered the page anywhere with some white space. Taking additional notes is most definitely worthwhile as the slides often have limited content.

Group work does it work?

Doing Marketing as a major meant I had lots of group work. You may not like it but you can’t escape it so just embrace it. Working with others can mean no one takes responsibility or initiative, this is frustrating and counterproductive. I’d recommend you be that person that is able to get everyone to do stuff. Allocate group members to complete specific sections. Always set smaller deadlines along the way to make sure everyone is pulling their weight. Don’t leave group work to the last minute….we all know it won’t end well.

Tips for successful group work:

  • Take initiative
  • Set group deadlines
  • Communicate with other members
  • Make the most of technology — Skype is useful. I’ve had groups where we’ve used Skype to practise presentations. It makes finding a time everyone is free that much easier.
  • If you find good group members which you work well with try and do the same subject as them the following semester. I was able to do this for one of my marketing subjects and it made it much easier and more enjoyable knowing the people.
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