So the other day, I got this comment on one of my blogs…
Can you maybe do a blog on what you have found the most challenging about adapting to university life, general tips for those hoping to take Biomed or Health science next year? What you have found awesome about university? How do you manage your time well?
… so today’s post I’ll be tackling all these questions and more! I always try my best to read and reply to all my comments, so ask away 😀
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND THE MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT ADAPTING TO UNIVERSITY LIFE?
Living alone. Living at O’Rorke Hall was the first time in my entire life, where I had lived away from my family, so of course the first night sleeping in a new place felt a little strange. But after you meet heaps of new people, get accustomed to the food, and get a feel for your way around this magical place, it’ll be your home in no time.
Motivation. After the first few motivated weeks, motivation to go to lectures drops throughout the semester. And it’s not that the lectures are not interesting, most them are genuinely quite fascinating as we’re all finally at Uni and studying stuff we have chosen for ourselves and are interested in (which was not always the case back in high school). The problem is having the motivation to get up and get yourself to the lecture on time (especially when you know that they will all be recorded and posted online). Get your stuff organised the night before, sleep early-ish (sleep deprivation was the biggest reason I could never make it to my 8am lectures) and drag some of your friends with you to your lectures.
Main Ideas vs Details. In high school, my brain was trained to learn stuff by considering the overarching, main ideas that we learnt in class and being able to apply and use these ideas myself. Whereas at Uni in my biomed papers, I’ve noticed that the finer details are a lot more important. Because we are only first year undergraduate students, it’s important to form that initial and basic foundation of knowledge from which the future years of study will delve much deeper into. I’ve had to adapt my study methods vastly, since I need to be able to remember and understand a whole LOT more information than I was used to.
No second chances. I remember at high school we had so much room to improve our abilities and understanding of the content because we would learn it in class, have a practice test, have a mock exam, and then sit the final exam at the end of the year. Whereas in some of my papers this year, the first-half of the course content is assessed in the mid-semester test (then you can forget it all 😛 ), and the second-half of the semester is assessed in the end-of-semester exam. Once you sit the test, that content will no longer be tested in the exam. Although in some papers, the exam includes the full semester’s content, there’s still not really as much opportunities to revisit and relearn like in high school, because every time you sit a test or exam, it will (usually) contribute to your final grade.
Time. Quite a few of my papers have online quizzes which contribute to your final grade. Some of these are pre-lab quizzes (before every lab), and post-lecture quizzes (after every lecture). Also for most of my papers, we have fortnightly labs and because they’re only every second week, sometimes I forget whether it’s a “lab” week or not which has led to many near-misses (and a miss 🙁 ) of my labs…which is why it is so important to keep track of your quizzes by logging onto canvas every day, reminders on your phone, checklist in your diary, or whatever it may be.
GENERAL TIPS FOR THOSE HOPING TO TAKE BIOMED OR HEALTH SCIENCE NEXT YEAR?
Find out more. Learn more about the papers in both biomed and healthsci first year so you can make a knowledgeable decision about which one you would want to undertake…as although they are both pathways to mostly the same clinical programmes, they diverge into very different degrees after the first year. You don’t want to go through half the year and realise that the other pathway may have been more suited to you, your strengths and interests. Check out my healthsci vs biomed blog.
Be chill. Just because you’re aiming to apply for one of the many clinical programmes like med, pharm and optom or you really just want to ace all your papers, doesn’t mean you have to devote all your time to study…or stress yourself out about tests and exams…and just generally have no chill. It sounds cliché but it’s true… enjoy your first year of uni, explore Auckland, meet new people, and experience new things.
Don’t buy the textbooks. The only textbook I personally found useful was Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, which we used for both BIOSCI107 and MEDSCI142. If you are gonna buy them, make sure to check out secondhand textbooks on Trademe or on this Facebook group with thousands of Auckland Uni students.
Move into a Hall. If you’re moving up or down (or even from another country) to Auckland for university, consider staying at a first year Hall of Residence. The academic mentoring programme for Biomed and Health Sci students is really helpful, it’s a good way to meet and study with other students, and a great way to truly experience uni life which is so important during the stressful biomed/healthsci first year. Check out my life in the halls blog.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND AWESOME ABOUT UNIVERSITY?
Freedom & independence. It’s great. You choose when you want to wake up, go to sleep, whether you want to go to class or not, whether you want to study or not, whether you work on your assignment or not…it’s all up to you! I also personally enjoy the self-directed learning a lot more, as you’re expected to do a lot of the learning on your own, rather than getting it all taught to you (eg pre-reading before lectures and post-lecture revision after lectures).
Labs. Back in my high school, we did do practicals to help us understand theory, but it wasn’t that often and there is only so much you can do in a 1 hour class. Although some of the labs can be tedious or time-pressured, our 3 hour fortnightly labs for each science paper and our Lab TAs (teaching assistants) have been awesome.
And of course…all the awesome friends I’ve met along the way!
HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME WELL?
I’ll be uploading a “Day in my Life” vlog soon, and hopefully that will give you an insight to where all the time in my day goes!
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Hey! I’m currently in year 13, and biomed/ hsfy seem really interesting to me but 1) I didn’t take physics and 2) I have no confidence in my abilities. I’ve gotten excellence endorsement every year, but I just feel ‘stupid’ I guess, even though I am passionate about science. Did you ever have these kinds of doubts? And, in your true, honest opinion, how difficult was the transition from NCEA level 3 to studying your first year of biomed? Am I just setting myself up to fail by applying for this course?
Hi Jayden, By no means do you need to have taken physics before at high school, we start from scratch! I’m sad to hear you feel that way but gaining excellence endorsement every year is an achievement to be proud of! I have to admit I was often worried about not feeling “good enough” for biomed and will definitely talk more about it in a future blog I’m writing up as we speak..The transition is more so different than difficult – once you’re adapted to the different way of learning and amount of study, it’ll become the new normal. If you’re passionate about a course, and find it interesting, I think you should definitely look deeper into studying it 🙂 Don’t let fear get in the way of pursuing what you want to do!
Hi if I am doing first year health sciences 2020.
Which halls of residences is closest walking distance to most of my lectures?
Hiya Helen, First year health sciences is split between City Campus and Tamaki Campus. All the first year halls of residences are located near City Campus or Grafton Campus (15 min walk from City Campus). I would recommend a hall that’s in City Campus as that’s where most of your classes are. These are Waiparuru (the new one opening next year!), O’Rorke Hall & University Hall Towers/Apartments! There’s a free shuttle service provided by the University to get from City Campus to Tamaki Campus too. Hope that helped 🙂
hey :)) i was just wondering what kind of gpa is needed for med? super subjective i know, but we just had our biosci107 exam and i know i didn’t get a+ (think i got an a overall which would results in a score of 8 for biosci107), and i’m freaking out because i know it’s really competitive and i feel so disappointed at the moment :((
I’m currently doing Biomed, and was wondering how important the pre-lab quizzes are? I mean, obviously, they give you points, but let’s say you got 3/3.5 on one of them – is that likely to hugely affect your overall grade? Because it just happened to me and I am so stressed at the moment
Hello, absolutely NOT at all! Those quizzes are worth almost nothing in the grand scheme of things. Labs help complement your course and can be super fun! Don’t stress and enjoy them 🙂
You say that you didn’t fulfill all of the criteria for the Top Achievers Scholarship yet you got one. What criteria did you fulfill? I have great academic results and am a prefect.
Hell yeah! Do make a how I study vlog! 😀
Just wondering if there was anything in particular that you found helpful for preparing for the new content in biomed and for umat while you were in highschool? (Eg. Did you try to learn some basic anatomy concepts before uni etc.) If not, is there anything in hindsight which you wish you would have done? Thanks so much!
Hey pre-pre-med 🙂 I didn’t really prepare for anything, I just tried to have fun during my last year of high school. In hindsight, I’m glad I just chilled because there’s plenty of time to enjoy yourself at Uni as well as stay on top of things, and I personally don’t think it would help! Although I didn’t really prepare for it, I did sit UMAT last year when I was in high school. I don’t think it benefited me that much…but it definitely made me feel much more relaxed for the UMAT this year, since I knew what it was all about. For now, I would just keep workin’ hard for your Year 13 exams and enjoy your looong summer break 🙂
Super excited for the vlog! Just wondering, did you take any Scholarship subject exams at high school? If so did you get Scholarship?
Loved the blog post! x
Hey Rachel, thank you!! I took Scholarship exams for all five of my subjects last year and managed to achieve the scholarship for biology, chemistry, statistics and economics. I failed physics scholarship but it was still a good learning experience! I wrote a blog a while ago where I talked about how taking scholarship exams in high school really helped me out both back in high school and now at Uni (http://theinsideword.blogs.auckland.ac.nz/2017/07/everything-you-need-to-know-about-scholarships/). Keep workin’ hard, just the final stretch now 🙂
What do you mean by this “I’ve had to adapt my study methods vastly, since I need to be able to remember and understand a whole LOT more information than I was used to.”
What study methods have you adapted to cope with the content in biomed
Thank you for the blog btw, looking forward to the day in your life one!
Hiya! Back in high school, I was pretty lazy and never had a notebook for class 😛 I would usually learn the stuff properly and type up some notes on my computer just before exams. In Uni, I still procrastinate & don’t manage my time as well as I should (some things don’t change… 😉 ), but I try to learn & go over the content multiple times as well make written notes which help me to remember! Would you be interested in a “how I study” vlog? 🙂
Hi there! It would be so useful if you could upload a “how I study” vlog or post! Thank you 🙂 Your blog has been a huge benefit so far!