Adjusting to University

Adjusting to University

Regardless of whether you’re 17 or 18 and going to university straight from high school, or you've been in the workforce for a number of years and now want to gain a qualification – starting university for the first time can be daunting.

Getting to know an unfamiliar campus, adjusting to lectures and tutorials, learning new things, making new friends, juggling life as an "adult" – all while trying to get a degree to advance your career – can get a little overwhelming.

But you’re not alone in feeling like this. And while it’s a lot to take in, most people do it wonderfully, learning from any challenges they are confronted with, and coming out the other side having had the experience of their lives.

Your network of new friends await

Everyone feels at least a little nervous, awkward, and overwhelmed 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. They're the minority.

Most people feel ill at ease and 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 to minimise your pre-university jitters:

  • Go to as many O-Week events as you can.
  • Take the initiative to hang out 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, try to get to know the people in your college or residence.
  • If you live at home or off-campus try to hang around campus as much as you can.
  • 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 out at university is an exciting prospect. However, it's easy to overlook some of the changes university entails, particularly when comparing it to high school study. We know there's a lot to get your head around, so we've outlined some the basic differences to help get you started.

Lectures and tutorials

The academic year at UQ is divided into three semesters and is made up of a series of courses. Most courses are delivered via a mix of lectures and tutorials, and assessed by exams, coursework or practical assignments. The exact method of delivery varies from course to course, much of which you will find out in your first week of classes.

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

Balancing your new found freedom

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

Lecturers won’t be chasing you to do your homework like they did in high school. They will impart their knowledge and then you are responsible for your own learning – everything from keeping up-to-date with assigned readings, to knowing when exams or assessments are due.

Thinking differently

You’ll be given reading lists containing 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 critical thinking skills. This is a major part of your university learning experience: you should develop your own opinion about the topic, rather than just repeating what you’ve read.

Don’t worry too much though. During each of your courses, your lecturer will give you the knowledge framework to develop your own informed point of view. We are here to help wherever possible – not to corner you into "sink or swim" scenarios.

Personal study tips

Before your first semester begins, it’s a good idea to take some time to familiarise yourself with the academic expectations of UQ, your faculty, library and campus.

Take proactive steps in maximising your success by following the suggestions below.

  • If moving to Brisbane, arrive at least two to three weeks before the start of semester to ensure you are well settled into your accommodation before your academic program commences.
  • Attend a Getting Started Session.
  • 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 so assessment tasks are well spaced.
  • 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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