University can be a lonely time if you don’t go through it with the right mindset. Don’t treat university like a high school with a little more free time or simply think of it as the place you go just to attend classes and lectures. Your time in university is when you transition from an angsty teen to a young adult, and it’s a time where you have to find what your strengths are, what you enjoy and the kind of people with whom you may make lifelong relationships. To do this, one needs to find and grab every opportunity that university has to offer.
These days a degree is simply the ticket that gets you into the interview room. Employers look for extra curricular activities, a good personality, leadership skills and real world experience. So to make sure you aren’t lacking in any of these areas, my first piece of advice is to look into joining a club (or several). Put your name down for anything that looks even vaguely interesting. Clubs are a great way to meet people and participate in fun activities. If you are really interested to get involved, you could try to get onto the club’s committee during the next general meeting and take on extra responsibilities. Similarly if you are someone interested in student politics or getting involved with faculty decision-making, you could run to be on the University SRC or the Union Board or as a student representative on a faculty committee. This not only looks good on the resume, but also is a great way to see how decision-making and event planning occurs at university, and meet with people you may not normally have the chance to meet.
Most universities also organise events, workshops and other programs to help students with more than just study. See if your university is offering free first aid or other skills training, meditation classes, public speaking courses and much more. Perhaps write for the student magazine or present on student radio.
Make sure you do something to stay in good shape. It could be joining a casual sports team, taking a jog in the afternoons or visiting the gym regularly. Being social is essential. Go to the Unibar: even if you do not drink there are still ways to have a good time. Some nights there’ll be local bands playing, or in my case, I like to try out the video game contests. Joining in social events like the pubcrawls, parties and balls will keep you connected with your peers. I encourage you to make use of some of your newfound freedom to catch up with friends (old or new) during a break at a coffee shop.
All this being said, when it comes to your studies, you need to take them very seriously. It is easy to fall behind and once you do, it is very hard to catch up again. The first thing to do is to plan your timetable properly, especially around other commitments. Play to your strengths: if you aren’t a morning person or prefer breaks between classes, try to make your timetable reflect this. Look for your textbooks second-hand or in the library; even if the lecturer says you need the latest edition, usually it just means the old edition will be fine, but some of the questions may have different values or be in a different spot. Talk to your peers and older students for their notes/past exams and advice. Lastly, do the work. Or at least try to! But stay on track. It is easy to fall behind and there really isn’t enough time in SWOTVAC to catch up on half a semester’s worth of work. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
So try doing all these things – maybe tackle them slowly, one at a time so you don’t feel like you’re drowning – but doing so will make your university years an exciting time of personal growth, friendship, learning and most importantly, fun.
Adi Rai is a 3rd year Law & Commerce student and on the Adelaide University SRC.
Read more on starting out at university