Putting your best foot forward for a new year of uni
A new autumn session is coming up here at UTS, and what a semester it promises to be. The way we work and study has changed dramatically over the last year thanks to the pesky pandemic (or pandeezy/panny as we have affectionately started calling it). That being said, students are nothing if not resilient, and making the shift to online learning proved to be easier than any of us expected.
Starting a new university year is an exciting time! There’s new friends to be made, new study techniques to learn (or ignore), and invaluable experiences to be lived. It can also be a really tough time for some, and this year it’s being made just that bit more challenging by the inability to spend as much time on campus as we would all like.
Just because it’s a little trickier than usual to thrive in a university environment doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are a few key strategies you can employ to make the transition from school to uni student easier, or even from one year of your studies to another.
Here are our top 4 tips for putting your best foot forward in a new uni session.
Do what you want to do, not what you think you should do
Gone are the days where you pick one career path and stick to it for the rest of your life. Heck, gone are the days where your degree even has to be directly linked to your future career path! If you’re interested in, say, design, but have no interest in sitting at a desk all day in a Design Agency – that’s ok! You never know where you might end up. Take the previous example; studying design could lead you to working in UX/UI, engineering, or teaching, just to name a few.
Basically, the best way to tackle university is by choosing what’s right for you at every step. Feeling overwhelmed and want to take a break for a semester? Go for it. Studying Business but suddenly feeling Creative Writing calling your name? Your uni will support you. Worried about where your studies will lead you? That’s what staff here at UTS Careers are for!
This is your life, and university is meant to help you achieve whatever you want out of it.
Get on track and stay there
One way to make the most out of a new uni semester is by keeping on top of all your work, tasks, and assignments from the very beginning of the session.
Here at UTS, the first step is to get a hold of all the different websites on offer for students. Here are a few of the most important sites you’ll need to succeed:
- Canvas: the home of most under- and postgraduate subjects, Canvas hosts everything from subject outlines, message boards, and notifications from your tutors and fellow students.
- My Student Admin: as a UTS student, My Student Admin is where you can go to manage your personal and course enrolment/withdrawal details, as well as access your results, Commonwealth assistance forms, and graduation registration.
- My Timetable: after you’ve enrolled in your subjects on My Student Admin, My Timetable is where you should go to select your classes.
- UTS Library: your one-stop-shop for class reading materials, online resources, study and referencing advice, as well as external books, articles, and journals.
- Blackboard (UTSOnline): while most subjects have been moved to Canvas, some may still be hosted on Blackboard.
- Subject Finder Tool: if you’re not sure whether your subjects are on Canvas or Blackboard, visit the Subject Finder Tool to search for a specific subject and learn where it is hosted.
After you’ve had time to peruse these different sites and understand how they can help you, the next step is to figure out what works best to keep you feeling productive and organised.
For some, a paper planner plus a couple of highlighters is all they need to thrive, while others prefer apps like Todoist, Freedom, or Habitica. However you like to keep track and on top of all your tasks, there’s an organisational system out there for you.
It’s much easier to establish productive habits earlier, to get on track and stay there, than it is to make a mad dash towards the end of the session just when things heat up.
Sure, it might sound like tacky advice from your mum, but simply being yourself is the worst-kept secret for surviving and thriving at university. While it’s certainly true people attend uni to study, learn new skills, and gain experiences, it’s also a fact that you can often find your true self at university.
But how will you ever find out more about yourself if you’re not honest about who you are from the very beginning?
One of the best parts of entering a new semester is the chance to introduce yourself to a fresh cohort as your authentic self. So go ahead and make your favourite meme your Zoom background, or introduce your next breakout room to your cat/dog/fish. Talk about your passion for aeroplanes/Doctor Who/taking long walks on the beach in your icebreakers and be unashamedly confident – who knows, you might just have given someone else the courage to be themselves too!
Don’t go it alone
While we hope entering a new uni session will be all sunshine and daisies, the reality, unfortunately, isn’t always that sweet. There are a couple of ways you can get support if you’re struggling.
One of the side effects of online learning is that it’s become trickier to make friends. While you may have heard stories of making a lifelong connection simply by sitting next to someone in a lecture, the stories that are being told these days involve many more Zoom rooms and Facebook chats. Use this to your advantage! Why not join a club or society where you can meet like-minded people, or be bold and create a group chat for a couple of people you could see yourself being friends with in one of your classes. Expanding your circle is always a good thing!
For more advice on making meaningful connections in the age of ‘Zoom-iversity’, check out this blog post.
Looking after YOU
UTS offers free and confidential counselling for all students in need of assistance. There is a vast range of ways UTS Counselling can help you, from managing time, dealing with stress, working on helpful strategies, and all things mental health. They also offer workshops and group counselling if you’re not ready to go in by yourself.
Preparing for the future of work
It doesn’t matter at what point of your career journey you’re at, or even the time of the year — UTS Careers is here to help you with all your career goals and needs.
Whatever career need you need fulfilled, UTS Careers can help you.
Whether you’re starting uni for the first time in 2021, or coming back for another year of study, make the most of your time at university this session. We know you’ll ace it!
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.