Adjusting to university

Adjusting to university

Regardless of your age or life experience, starting university for the first time can seem a little daunting.

Getting to know an unfamiliar campus, making new friends, grappling with complex ideas, juggling responsibilities – it can all feel a little overwhelming at times.

Here's the good news: you’re not alone in feeling this way. And while there's a lot to get used to, adjusting to change is also an important life lesson.

Most students manage to move past their reservations and come out the other side stronger, smarter and more skilled at handling life's pressures. Plus they've also had the experience of their lives.

Your network of new friends await

Everyone feels at least a little nervous, awkward, and out of place in the beginning.

Yes, there will be a handful of people who glide through university life effortlessly and confidently, seemingly making friends with half the campus by the end of their third day. Don't worry about them.

Most people feel a bit uncertain when they first go to university – it's a major life transition after all. Remember, everyone is there to learn and grow. Be ready to accept people and branch out of your comfort zone.

Helpful hints

Here's some advice on how getting off on the right foot:

  • Get involved! Attend Orientation, strike up a conversation, go to social events and see what works. 
  • Take the initiative to spend time with people you seem to click with.
  • Keep making plans and hang out with people you get along with and see where the budding friendship goes.
  • If you live on-campus, get to know the people in your college or residence.
  • If you live at home or off-campus get involved in campus life and make the effort to spend time with people face to face.
  • Take advantage of volunteering and mentoring opportunities.
  • Join any clubs, societies and sporting teams where you may share a common interest with a group of people.

Starting university is exciting, but it's easy to overlook how uni is different to high school study.

We know there's a lot to get your head around, so we've outlined some basic differences to help get you started:

Lectures and tutorials

The academic year at UQ has two main semesters – Semester 1 and Semester 2 – and one optional Summer Semester.

Most courses are delivered via a mix of lectures and tutorials, and assessment usually takes the form of exams or assignments.

There's a great deal of variety from course to course, and you'll learn about what each course involves in your first week of classes.

But there's more to university than how and when courses are delivered. Studying at university is about taking responsibility for yourself, without anyone to hold your hand.

Balancing your new found freedom

In high school, teachers provide a lot of guidance and help you find the information you need. At university, you’re expected to do this yourself.

Lecturers won’t be chasing you to do your homework like they did in high school. They will share their knowledge and then it's up to you – you're responsible for everything from keeping up-to-date with readings, to knowing when assessment is due.

Thinking differently

You’ll be given reading lists with the names of textbooks you’re expected to borrow or buy. You’re also expected to do wider reading, seeking out material that will help you develop a wider understanding of your topic.

You’re expected to go much further in the way you learn and develop your understanding of a topic. A major part of your university learning experience is developing your own opinions, rather than just repeating what you’ve read.

Don’t worry too much though. During each of your courses, your lecturer will outline the knowledge framework to develop your own informed point of view. We're here to help wherever possible – and not throw you into the deep end.

Study tips

Before your first semester begins, it’s a good idea to take some time to take proactive steps to maximise your success.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Attend Orientation Week sessions
  • Take a library tour
  • Take a campus tour
  • Make use of UQ’s student support services
  • Talk to your lecturers, tutors or faculty academic advisor if you are having trouble understanding course content or academic expectations
  • Plan your study schedule at the start of semester
  • Balance study, leisure and work time
  • Eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep.

Learn to see the potential of the world. Gain the knowledge to make it better. 

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