Brace yourself – semester one is about to begin! Right now is the time to finish enrolling in those upcoming courses, choose class times and find cute stationary. The USQ campus will begin buzzing again with students checking where rooms are, rushing in to print study materials and buy textbooks. And, if you are anything like me, you will also be promising yourself that you will be extra prepared by beginning to read these before the start of classes…this time.
This has always been my favourite time of the year. The smell and feel of new textbooks, bumping into friends on campus, enjoying a carefree coffee with friends at the hub and long chats in the quad are some of the joys experienced just before semester kick-off. Exams feel as though they are a long way, distant into the future.
After four years of study, I feel that I have perfected the art of preparing before a semester. I am able to confidently do what I thought I would never be able to do four years ago – find what I need, know where to go, who to see and juggle my really diverse study schedule which has included visual arts, mathematics and education courses. I have found that once you are into the uni ‘jive’ this becomes second-nature and a lot of fun.
This year however is a lot different for me. It is strange.
See, I finished my Education degree with USQ at the end of last year. I was so excited to be able to say ‘I am a TEACHER’. However, I am beginning to realise that this means that I no longer have pre-semester university preparations. I don’t have courses to enrol in, there are no new textbooks on my shelf and my friends have begun their new careers in various places throughout Queensland. Though post-university is exciting (I will also soon be moving to begin my career, a teaching position in Thailand), it is hard not to reflect on, and become nostalgic for, the life and routine of a university student.
So perhaps I can share with you what I have learnt. Provide some advice to those who are starting out for the first time. I always use ‘to do’ lists, so here is one for you –
UNIVERSITY TO DO LIST
Become a ‘yes-person’ (think back to Jim Carey’s character in Yes Man).
By remaining open to new experiences, you will surprise yourself and create some fantastic memories. I adopted this mentality early-on in my university career and as a result have met some wonderful people through volunteering, participated in an overseas professional placement in Thailand (as part of my Bachelor of Education) which resulted in the school offering me a position, have volunteered at a school in Cambodia, met a NASA astronaut, co-founded a charity, introduced Red Thread Bracelets to Australia, exhibited an artwork, regularly assisted at a local school, completed a number of additional vocational qualifications, became a guest education panel chair member and won a scholarship. I try to say ‘yes’ to every new experience and have really benefited from this.
[You never know where ‘yes’ can lead you..in this case, into a tiger enclosure in Thailand during an overseas professional experience]
Buy your textbooks early.
It doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes the bookshop will run out of particular books. It can be difficult to catch-up with readings a few weeks into the semester.
Start your assignments early.
I always put my assignments onto my calendar, a week BEFORE they are actually due. This means that I always had the assignment completed a week before it was actually due. I cannot tell you how much stress was saved through adopting this strategy! An added benefit (from my experience) – if you realise last-minute that you have misinterpreted the assignment, you still have a week to fix it! This was my number one strategy and really helped me get through uni.
Do a library tour in O-Week.
These are free and so worthwhile. Pay particular attention to where resources and references can be found through the library database. The library has access to online versions of journals and other publications which you WILL NEED throughout your study. Knowing how to use these properly will save so much valuable time.
Read, post in and follow all of the forums for your courses.
There have been times when I have realised that I was really not on the right track with assignments or course content. These are sometimes a lifesaver! Usually, questions that you have will already be posted and answered.
Go to EVERY lecture and tutorial (on-campus or online).
This will help you stay on track, find study-buddies and assist you with assessment.
ENJOY UNI LIFE! It doesn’t feel like it at times (particularly when assessment is beginning to pile up), but your university career will fly by! Enjoy it and do your best!
[Taken on my very last day of uni, with our amazing lecturer, Warren]
Good luck to everyone who are about to start their study! Feel free to leave a comment, especially if you have any questions about being a student and preparing for your university life.