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How to cope with the transition to tertiary study

If you’re finding the transition to tertiary study a little difficult, you’re not alone.

It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed as you adjust to a new teaching style and a new course. Then there’s everything else that’s new — teachers, friends, buildings… perhaps even a new city!

To help you out, we’ve put together a few tips to help you manage the transition to tertiary study.

Identify why you’re struggling

Once you know why you’re struggling, you’ll be able to take some steps to manage your transition. It might be that you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’ve scheduled too many classes on a particular day and always have to rush to get to your classes. One way to manage this would be to talk to your lecturer or faculty administration office to see if you can change your timetable or switch to another class. If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with independent study throughout the week, maybe you could get tips from your lecturer or partner up with someone in your class for some group study. Try to remember that there’s a solution to every problem, no matter how big or small.

Take advantage of your institution’s support services

Your institution will have a number of support services on offer to help students who are struggling with the transition to tertiary study. No matter what the problem, someone will be able to help. If you’re struggling with course content, then a student tutoring service might be helpful. If assignments are getting you down, then perhaps the academic skills office is a good place to visit. The best place to start is your faculty administration office, which should be able to point you in the right direction. If you are finding a particular subject difficult, it’s best to have a chat to your lecturer or tutor directly. You can approach them before or after class, send through an email or schedule a time to meet outside of class. It’s important to discuss your difficulties before assessments come up or before you start to feel like you’re falling behind.

Look for ways to enjoy student life

One of the biggest struggles for first-year students — whether you’ve come straight from Year 12 or are returning to study after years — is getting into the groove of student life. Commencing study at tertiary level can leave students feel alone and out of place because of the independence involved. But you’ll never settle in if you’re heading home as soon as classes finish, so look out for ways to enjoy student life — whether this means joining a club or society, volunteering at an event, helping with the institution magazine or just attending a party or pub crawl organised by some of your classmates. Why not visit your student activities office to get some ideas?