Welcome to The Inside Word! I’m sure regardless of where you are in your university journey from pre-application to being a fresher, you all have the same question bubbling around in your head, which is always “How do I actually do university?” I’m here as a second-year student to help you out because I have been in the exact same boat as you. Here is my university guide and the most helpful lessons I learnt in my first year.

*This was taken in October 2020*

Tip 1: Don’t copy the lecture slides

Everyone (including myself) did this in our first year, but one thing I noticed very quickly was that lecturers actually build off what’s on the slides. What you should be doing is write notes on what the lecturer is saying that could aid your understanding of the content. Copying the slides down is a waste of time and energy when you could be missing VITAL information which could boost your grades.

Sometimes you get lecturers who are absolutely awesome that they force you to listen because there are minimal words on the slides they use. The purpose of a lecture is to be able to hold an idea in your head and make connections to the real world and to the rest of the course content, not a note-taking competition with your classmates. Think “Notes, not transcript.”

*Taken in the first lockdown*

Tip 2: Do the readings

I get that some people are not into reading and school may have put you off reading by asking questions such as “Why did the author make the grass green?” but PLEASE do your readings for uni. Your lecturers have spent so much time looking for the right material for your courses. The readings have been chosen to support the lecture content and also to help you save time doing research for your assignments. Your lecturers want to help you and want to make your life easy by giving you the material you need, so use the material they are providing you and what you are paying for. Also, if you’re really interested in your major, you will find your readings super interesting and you’ll love doing them which makes the readings so much more interesting.

Tip 3: Listen for hints for the exam

Your lecturer wants you to pass and they are going to give you as much help as possible which means they will give you hints. They’ll tell you how you can prepare effectively, what to expect the exam to look like and how to use time effectively. Believe me, the lecturers want you to succeed, so they’ll give you all the help you need.

For one of my courses, the lecturer put concepts which will be featured in the exam in a yellow or orange box throughout the semester. Sometimes, lecturers will put a list on the slides and say “The terms which will be in the exam are on the slide right behind me. I’m on your side. I will never make a list of terms that doesn’t include the ones used in the exam.” and they will mean it. Look for tiny details and you will find some hints for sure and then you’re one step ahead in prep for the exam.

*Taken during the most recent lockdown*

Tip 4: Be flexible

This can be used under any circumstances, but the elephant in the room is that us Aucklanders need to be more flexible than ever, we’ve been in more lockdowns than the rest of the country. We even started this year off with a lockdow,n which emphasises how flexible we need to be. It’s always disappointing going back into lockdown, but it’s the weird world we live in right now and it gives us a good story to tell our grandkids. We need to live with it, unfortunately, but also remember this isn’t going to be forever.

Flexibility is important in order for you to be ready for any turn around with lockdown, assignment plans along with understanding different perspectives. University is about getting a degree, but it is also about learning to accept that people think differently from you and their perspectives are completely valid. This is hard at the start, but you will learn it over time for sure, it’s definitely a learnt skill. But you should get it soon enough.

Thank you so much for reading this post and I also really encourage you to come to this university. It’s a whole new chapter of your life which you won’t regret. I hope you make many amazing memories. At home or on-campus, the university experience is definitely worth it. Enjoy the next few years of your life. You only live once, so enjoy it.