How To Survive Your First Year Of University

Writer: Farah Karim

You often hear people say that the leap from high school to university is daunting. Well, they’re definitely not wrong. University is a completely different ball-game that plays by different rules. The people you meet will come from all sorts of backgrounds and for many, the first year is usually the hardest.

If you’re worried for the start of your school year, here are some tips and tricks that we actually wish someone had told us during our first year.

Source: Stanley Morales/Pexel

1. Learn how to cook

If you’re lucky, you’ll be in a dorm or a hostel that caters all your meals. But if you’re one of those who decides that living by yourself would be a better option, then cooking is something you can’t avoid.

We know how scary cooking can be but you don’t even have to be good at it to make a decent meal! There are so many simple dishes that don’t require much work nor time and with the internet, there are tons of simple recipes that will fit your needs.

2. You have lots of time; use it wisely

With only a few classes every week, you’ll find yourself with plenty of free time. But don’t take this as a chance to slack off or relax! Do something useful that will contribute to your soft skills, studies or even your CV.

You’ll realise that the more free time you have, the more chances you have at improving yourself. Be it a part-time job, an internship or simply studying for extra credit, all of these additional activities will give you a leg-up when you graduate! It shows that you’re a hard-worker and not a slacker.

3. Don’t buy textbooks (unless you really need to)

Compared to high school, textbooks in university can cost a bomb with an average of US$100 (RM414) per textbook! The deal with textbooks in university is that you’ll only be using the book for a few months during the entire year.

So save yourself some money by looking for e-books instead. Although technically you’re still buying the books, it’s cheaper and you don’t have to physically carry a large book with you everywhere! Otherwise, you can check your university library. By policy, they are required to have a few copies of the textbook in the library. It never hurts to try.

4. Check the course outline

With assignments, homework, lecture notes and studying to do, it can all feel overwhelming. You don’t want to spend burning the midnight oil over an assignment that you didn’t know was due the next day. To avoid this, the best thing you can do is check the course outline so you don’t get caught off guard.

The course outline is there so you know what to expect over the coming semester. Assignment deadlines, lecture topics, your lecturer’s contact details, everything you need to know is in there and it’s good to skim through it, in case anything ever goes wrong.


5. Find out where your classes are before they actually start

This is one mistake we know a lot of students make. If your uni campus is huge AF, it can be hard finding where your classes are especially when you’re new. You might just walk into a different class or when you do eventually find it, you might risk ending up being late! Check out the location of your classes a a few days before your first session starts. That way, you’ll be there on time and won’t have to worry about it on your first day of uni.

However, don’t worry if you do lose your way. Getting lost at least once is a kind of rite of passage and you’re less likely to have a similar crisis later on in life.

6. There are lots of opportunities in university

They say that 1 out of 16 of jobs you’ll get in the future is through connections. The best way to make connections? Keep an eye out for any networking opportunities. And university is full of those! With career workshops and networking events, there are so many ways to meet people.

But be warned, most of these don’t come easy. You have to go out and look for these opportunities either subscribing to the university newsletter or simply looking around for flyers promoting any career workshops. Don’t get me wrong, they sound tiring and a waste of time but every opportunity counts and if you’re lucky, you might just meet your future employer.

7. Be open to making friends (and losing them)

Making friends in university is hard. Unlike high school, you’re not spending 9 hours a day with the same people 5 days a week. At most, you’ll see them maybe a couple of hours during your lectures and tutorials.

Be prepared to make friends with the most amazing people you ever meet but also be prepared to see someone maybe once during the start of the semester. Making and losing friends is all part of life. While it takes some getting used to, this is completely normal. Friendship is a two-way street and if they’re not willing to make the effort, maybe they’re just not worth your time.

8. Be resilient

Resilience is the ability to pick yourself up when you’ve fallen down. There will be times when you’re struggling and you feel like the world is going to end. Just persevere, shake it off and keep going. Sure, you might fail one subject and you have to retake it, but it’s not the end of the world. These experiences will prep and shape you for the real world.

Entering university is taking one step into adulthood. But don’t feel intimidated! University is one small part of the big picture. Getting good grades and a degree doesn’t equal to success. If you think university isn’t the life for you then that’s okay. As long as you’re willing to learn, adapt and work hard, success will find you.

To everyone enrolling in university in 2019, good luck! We’ve all been there and we can tell you, if we survived then you can too!