First Year Survival Guide

Chelsea Pham
Apr 18 · 5 min read

A HUGE congratulations on making it through a daunting 2020 and securing your position at the University of Melbourne.

CISSA understands the struggle, and although we love all things tech, online uni can definitely be a pain.

So your friends here as CISSA have compiled a simple guide to help you survive first year and make it the best it can be!

CISSA’s top tips

1. Attend events like there is no tomorrow!!!

Attending events is honestly the easiest way to make friends, and this is super important because no one wants to suffer during assignments alone. You’re also fresh into uni so make the most of your energy while it lasts.

There’s mainly 3 types of clubs:

  • Professional: i.e. course related and with a career strengthening focus (like us!)
  • Social/interest: i.e. clubs that are mainly for making friends who might share a common interest activity.
  • Cultural: an extension of social clubs that centre around celebrating a specific culture.

You can meet and familiarise yourself with all the clubs during Summerfest or Winterfest which occurs annually. These are events specifically created for students to learn more about the clubs at Unimelb and hear about what they have to offer.

There are also many event types.

For instance, CISSA has three different types of events including:

  • Social (such as trivia nights, pub nights, and Diversitea)
  • Industry (such as our various sponsor-run workshops & tech talks)
  • Educational (such as tech workshops and subject revision sessions).

Evidently, there’s a wide range of events to suit your fancy.

P.S. CISSA’s got some killer hackathons to meet like-minded people, have sme fun, win some prizes, and make a great asset to your resume ;)

2. Join clubs and societies!!

Why stop at just going to events? Join the clubs too!

Clubs and societies are solely there for you to explore other interests you may have. Perhaps sign up for a sports team or a wine-tasting club, maybe even our very own CISSA.

And who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself really enjoying the community of people you meet and consider running for a committee position. These usually open up around August so keep an eye out!

3. Write everything down, stay up to date!

You might be young but you also might be surprised at how bad your memory can be…

Balancing uni life and social life can become very stressful very quickly, the jump from high school to university can be drastic; You’re very independent now, no teachers hounding you to finish tasks or show up to class. So get organised and do it fast.

Here are some of our tips to get organised, and STAY organised: 😎

  • Write dates and everything else down. Your calendar is going to fill up super fast so make sure you record plans and due dates properly on a sticky note or on your devices or basically anywhere EXCEPT your hand where the ink will smudge off throughout the day.
  • Download study/concentration apps on your devices such as Forest, Timetable, OneNote, Notion etc. (Notability & GoodNotes are my personal favourites for note-taking on an iPad/tablet! Especially handy to do written assignments on)
  • Conflicted on which subjects to do? Read student reviews on studentvip, AtarNotes & the Unimelb reddit page (r/unimelb).
  • Limit social media hours! (This one is really important during stressful assignment or exam times… The TikToks and iIstagram stories can wait!)

4. Your tutors and lecturers are your friends

Missed an 8am class? Feel like you might not make a deadline? Don’t understand a topic you covered 5 weeks ago? Email your tutors, they are there to help you so please make use of them. Most of them are very understanding and you’d be surprised how much assistance they can really give.

You can also go to the subject Student Representatives if you ever feel like you want to address an issue with any lecturers or tutors anonymously! Or better yet, become a Student Representative yourself to help improve student life in that subject!

5. Find your place of peace 🧘‍♂️

Establishing a comfort zone on campus early into your uni journey can really make campus a place worth going to.

Some cool places to check out include:

  • House of Cards [Coffee place]
  • Carte Crepes [Crepe & Coffee place]
  • Castro’s Kiosk [Coffee place]
  • MSD Library/building (for some sweet aesthetics to study in)
  • Baillieu Library
  • South Lawn
  • The Bean bag room in Union House

And many more for you to discover on your own!

You can use these places to relax, meet some friends or just for some good ol’ study.

P.S. If you’re interested in coffee, check out this Unimelb Coffee Showdown from 2019, I’ll let you be the judge ;)

6. Actively get to know others

If you find someone in your tutorials you think you might vibe in, gather up some courage and send them a message on zoom or just say hi in person.

Having friends in tutorials can truly make them something worth staying awake in. I guarantee they are just as clueless as you so why be alone when you can be clueless together.

7. Get to know people who have “been there, done that”

If you get the chance, try meeting older students in the course you’re studying. They will likely have already done the subjects that you are doing and are more than happy to help you out, because at one point they were in your shoes too.

I can’t tell you how great their advice would be for you, but it’s probably really worth hearing anyways.

Feel free to strike up a chat with any CISSA members/committee if you’re curious!

Most importantly:

Take breaks, enjoy uni life! It doesn’t all have to be about studying and being stressed, make sure you have fun!

First year is like a 5-star movie, you don’t know how good it really is until you finish it. Best of luck!

CISSA

The Computing & Information Systems Student Association at…