Hi there, I’m Leticia, and I’m a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts student majoring in politics and English. The inter-semester break has been a good time to reflect on the things I’ve learned about uni and how to be better prepared for semester 2 and the rest of my degree.
- Apply for scholarships on time
It’s easy to put things off and push them to the back of your mind – until you check the websites and the due dates have passed, or you don’t have time to organise referees! I missed out on several scholarships I would have qualified for simply because I wasn’t on the ball. If you can, try to get references or letters from your teachers ahead of time (before the influx of people just days before deadlines). You can look for scholarships on the link below and narrow down your results (undergraduate, by faculty, etc) and put the dates in your calendar so you don’t forget. Check in with your school as well to see if they know of any available scholarships. It’s so easy to fall out of the loop, and you never know what you might have missed! Trust me, once you get to uni, you’ll realize every penny counts. https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/study/scholarships-and-awards/find-a-scholarship.html
- Apply to accommodation on time
If you can, come to Open Day Online (a virtual experience) 25–27 August and/or Open Day on Campus 29 August. At Open Day on Campus you can have a look at the halls, walk around campus, and get a good feel for the halls and what life is like in them. They’re a great place to make friends taking different courses, and the staff at halls organize all sorts of activities and events to make sure you have lots of opportunities to get to know new people. Being close to campus and offering catering services, they save you tons of time commuting and cooking. Once you know what hall you want to apply to, it’s a good idea to apply ahead of time! Make sure you know when the deadline for applications is, and avoid what I did (which was speed-writing an application at the last minute).
- Don’t stress about not liking your courses.
You’re only in first year! Not everyone knows exactly what they want to do for the next few years of their lives. You don’t have to feel obliged to stay in something that isn’t your cup of tea, just because you’re enrolled. The university grants you two weeks from the start of semester to swap courses. A good way to help decide if you want to stick with something is by having a look at the readings and the course requirements, or past exam questions. Faculty Orientations at O Week are also a good way to get the gist of what’s expected of you and what you’ll be learning. You can enroll in things now and easily switch it up if you change your mind once you start. If you ever get confused with the information on the website, chat to someone at AskAuckland by phone, email, or online chat. (0800-61-62-63)
- It’s not like high school
You’re not in one big group like you were in high school. Everyone has a different schedule, and you’ll find yourself befriending different groups of people in your classes, in your hall, and in your tutorials. University isn’t so cliquey and people are very laid-back and happy to have lots of friends in different groups. If you want to meet people with similar interests to yours, join a club (there are lots of interesting ones, like Animal Rights or rowing).
- Work on your time management skills
I got away with leaving things until the last minute in high school. Uni has a lot more content and you’re entirely in charge of how you study, so at first it may seem overwhelming and easy to let things pile up. If I could tell myself anything, it would be to gradually build better time management habits so I wouldn’t have to struggle with building them all at once in uni. Allotting small chunks of time for each subject and getting ahead of things will save you a lot of stress – you’ll thank yourself for it. That way, it’ll be much easier to get into the swing of things and you’ll already know how to juggle several tasks at once.
Don’t worry if you can’t manage all of those tips! I certainly didn’t, and I’ve still made it successfully through my first semester. That said, they do make for a smoother ride.