With the summer break coming to an end, chances are it’s been a long time since you’ve picked up a textbook or printed off an assignment. Whether you’re heading to uni for the first time or returning for your final year, it can take some time to get back into the swing of things. If you’re worried that you’ll struggle to get back into your studies, keep reading for our student tips for the new year.
For returning students, the thought of waking up early or catching the train again is enough to turn them off going back for another year of study. Commencing students, on the other hand, may be nervous about navigating their way around campus and adjusting to a new environment. Either way, the first day is usually the hardest. It doesn’t take long to get back into your routine or settle into your course. Our top tip is to be positive and embrace the start of the new year — after all, you’ll wish you were still a student once you’re in the workforce. Set yourself some goals and enjoy your time on campus, and remember to ask questions if you need help — whether you book in to speak to a student adviser or just stop a fellow student in the hallway to ask for directions.
Get a head start on assessments
Although you may be tempted to extend your holidays by letting assessment slide in the first few weeks, you’ll thank yourself later if you start things ahead of time. This doesn’t mean pre-writing assignments that haven’t even been announced — it could just be that you have a read through task sheets or flick through your textbook before your first lecture. For things like reflection journals, commit to starting them in week one instead of doing the whole lot at the very last minute when other assessments have piled up.
Take advantage of your institution’s student services
If you’re finding the start of year a little more difficult than expected, look into the student services available on campus. For new students, student services can provide extra support during the transition period — whether you join a student club to make some new friends or seek out the academic skills unit to learn about referencing for your first assignment. Returning students may decide this is the year to investigate study abroad options or talk to someone in the careers office. Remember that assisting students is what student advisers do, so don't hesitate to seek help when you need it. See Student services and facilities for more information.
Know your institution’s census date
Sometimes classes just aren’t what you expected them to be. You might have chosen a subject to enable a Monday morning sleep-in… only to realise that it’s more painful to attend the class than to deal with an early start. A subject might also not live up to its on-paper description — perhaps it’s more theoretical than expected or you just can’t see how it’s relevant to your career path. If you start to feel unsure about a subject and feel like it’s not for you, you can drop the subject without financial penalty if you do so before the census date (usually late March, although dates vary depending on your academic calendar). If you withdraw your enrolment after the census date, you will need to pay tuition fees. See Why you should (or shouldn’t) drop a subject for more information.
Allow yourself some down time
One way to avoid the ‘back-to-school blues’ is by making sure you allow yourself some time to relax and have fun. Consider getting involved in some of the activities on offer at your institution — you may choose to join a student club or society, apply for a position with the student union or submit some of your work to the student magazine. Also keep an eye out for any orientation activities that have been organised as part of O-Week, such as barbeques, parties, pub crawls and even boat cruises!