University: A Survival Guide
No matter what avenue to take you’ll always hear really annoying things like “The change is massive”, “… such a big change”, blah blah I could go on; but you’ve heard it already. After completing a degree I finally feel satisfied enough with my university experience to say that, yes; it is a really big change from everything you’ve known before.
However, I definitely feel that the transition would be a shitload easier if there was just access to the right information; which is one thing that (from what I hear) ALL university’s suck at! This brings me to my first protip
Find someone who knows everything
I don’t mean the answers to Friday’s test; I mean that guy who seemingly knows what units you need to complete and when, and which ones are ending, and which are the good and bad lecturers. He knows what day your results will come out and what to do if you aren’t receiving emails. I know it’s a shit thing to “use” people, and I’m not saying “use” this person, but find them and keep them close!
2) Evaluate what classes you really need to attend
Go to all of your first lectures, probably your first week. This is important because you'll get a feel for a number of things. The pace of the content, the difficulty of the content, whether you can understand the lecturer, whether you can even do the unit and most importantly; how much of what's in the lecture is available online.
More often than not, lectures are recorded, and all physical information made available online. You might have a really crappy timetable with massive gaps waiting for one lecture. NO MORE. Skip it. No you won't fall behind; you do have to study the content later, but do it.
There are plenty of other university-style classes you can assess whether it's worth attending too, 'seminars', 'workshops' and some 'tutorials' are a waste of time and don't have marked attendance. A lot of the time you can learn one hours content in half an hour. Maximize your time to do more of nothing.
If you drive, think carefully about where you're going to park
Student parking at most every campus fills up faster than shopping center on Boxing Day, so find surrounding streets that don't have parking restrictions. Or that sneaky area where there might be some ridiculous rule/law/regulation that allows you to park their without being ticketed, despite signage (speak to a law student, or something).
4) If you use public transport, MUST have headphones
This isn't really a university specific thing; public transport is average at best. You can make it semi-enjoyable if you have some good tunes!
Noise-isolation is desirable since you can then attempt to avoid the following things
- "Oh my god, why did she do that? He doesn't even like her!" , "I know, but she thinks that... " BLAH, please die; social ravens of the night.
- "Have you started that assignment?" "Yeah, it's not too bad hey, what about you?" "Yeah it's not to bad hey", "Yeah I found that part with the thing....", i.e. people that only talk to each other because they have a unit together and it's polite.
- "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA", that cunt who's fucking on the other end of the bus but has the loudest, most obnoxious laugh that will crush any train of thought you had going.
I could go on forever but you get the point.....
5) If you don't know something an hour before an assessment, you're not going to.
Too many times, I've seen that ultimate crammer; he/she hears someone mention something small and insignificant that your lecturer spent 10 minutes on (out of say, 18 hours of assess-able content). The victim then pulls up all of the lecture notes they can and frantically attempts to memorize this. Of course, they've put so much pressure on it ("ermagerdddd I hav onli 50 minz 2 lern dis tinggggg"), that not only will they not memorize the insignificant thing, but probably fuck up whatever composure and preparation they had put in.
6) Map what you're going to eat, and WHEN
Ahh, food, my old friend. Probably the most important part of university for me. There have been actual days where my decision to go in was entirely dependent on what I felt like for lunch. If you're not careful though, you'll fall into a rut of eating shitty on-campus food (depending on whether your campus out sources catering services). It's important to network with people to find out where they eat.
Hell, take a few hours to walk around your campus surrounds and locate ALL of the food places, and over your time try them all.
Eventually you'll know which ones are packed when, and you can time your meal to perfection. I personally like to delay my metabolism for this purpose, I avoid hungrily waiting around people having frustrating conversations (see above), and also the staff are not as grumpy as there are no lines.
7) This is adult world; you have to make an effort to make friends
Obviously this is directed at school leavers, and I'll share a bit of my personal experience with you. I'm a bit of a social recluse as it is, but I've always liked having that group of really good friends wherever I go. Making friends never seemed an issue at school.
Then of course that thing happens where you were a big fish in a small pond, and all of a sudden some large reptile-skinned koala slides in with a digger, tears your pond to pieces and vomits fish. Nek minnit small fish, big pond.
But basically, I didn't spend much time talking to new people during my entire first year. So I spent 9 months with pretty much just acquaintances; though this could also have largely been due to the fact that there were close to 1000 people in a lot of my units. Similarly, due to my social seclusion, I wasn't open enough to new experiences; which brings me to my next point:
8) Join clubs and societies!
This one is a little bit harder for me to say; given that I spent a bit of time ragging these out to mates. I would say that probably 80% of all clubs and societies just run social events with some pathetic excuse for a 'tie in' to the corresponding alliance. This is not a bad thing; universities are filled with interesting and colourful characters, and you'll meet a lot more of them if you go along to some club and society events with open eyes. Also alcohol. Food too. But mostly alcohol.
9) Don't cram if you can avoid it!
Most of your study habits and such are formed when you're studying to get into university; but more often than not, without the guide of teachers and the like, you'll start to just do whatever. As you get more confident, you'll start to feel like you can just cram for everything. You'll stop going to lectures (no one's blaming you here), and there might come a time where you have 3-4 weeks with no assessments.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, "WHAT THE FUCK?! WHAT IS HAPPENING!? THIS IS BULLSHIT! THEY'VE JUST LUMPED ALL THE ASSESSMENTS FOR ALL THE UNITS TOGETHER ALWAYS, MERRRRRRRRRRRR!!!"
This is completely avoidable, with just slight effort keeping semi-up-to-date. But there is always the inevitable:
10) The Cram - Miniguide
This is probably nothing a university wants to see; but you can get through most of university learning how to pass exams; not really learning content. I don't endorse it, it is unfortunate; but I personally have completed (and done pretty well in!) a few units that I now probably can't even tell you what it was about.
So your exam is in 2 days, you haven't done anything since the mid-sem. It's time to get your cram on.
For best result
- Do it in a group
- Avoid talking to your group much
- Listen to music and study (if you can)
- Dedicate AT LEAST 50% of the study time to actually answering questions/assignments/tutorials/past exams
- PAST EXAMS
- Energy drinks
- PAST EXAMS
- The guy listed in #1
- Take regular 10-15 minute breaks
- Close Facebook (where appropriate)
- Literature dictating some possible, maybe, perhaps examination questions that pertain to the course; a la past exam
- Shitty junk food