7 steps to (help) get a 7

Tips and tricks for first-time students

University can seem like a whole new world after spending years at school, where schedules are prescribed and attending classes is mandatory.

While there is certainly more flexibility, there are a few traps that new students fall into and they can find themselves struggling further down the road.

Some degrees allow you some flexibility in the order you complete your subjects, but make sure you are aware of any implications surrounding prerequisites and whether subjects are only offered in certain semesters. 

The last thing you want is to find out one of the subjects you need to complete to graduate can only be taken in second semester, holding up graduation by six months.

Check with your course coordinator or log into mySI-net to make sure you're across when subjects are offered.

1. Make yourself known

It’s possible to go through an entire degree without speaking up in class, but you certainly aren’t getting the most out of your investment.

Making yourself known to tutors and participating in class activities can contribute to better grades and open opportunities for tutors to provide references for internships, work experience and study abroad opportunities.

2. Make studying work for you

Female student reads a book in the library Female student reads a book in the library

Working out where you study best early on in your degree will save you many wasted hours looking wistfully out windows.

The ability to study at home in your pyjamas might appeal to you, while others need to get out of the house and away from familiar distractions, like TV and frequent trips to the fridge in the hope something has materialised since last checking.  

The UQ libraries are equipped with limited computers, and ample room to bring your own laptop and study. If you are hoping to use a library workstation, especially towards the end of semester it is a good idea to look up computer availability across campus.

There are libraries at all three campuses which have 24/7 access with a student card for all night study sessions.

3. Consider a study group

If you work best bouncing ideas off other people and getting a second opinion you might like to form a study group with some of your course mates.

Chances are most of your subjects will have a portion of group work, so why not make connections early?

Keep in mind that everyone is new and in the same position as you, so there’s no better time to reach out.

Many subjects offer Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) which are facilitated by a previous student who did well in the subject and is willing to assist current students.

Google 'UQ PASS' or ask your course coordinator if PASS is offered for your subjects or if other study assistance and mentoring is available.

4. Prepare for class

While there may not be formal homework set between classes, and your tutors won’t be checking workbooks, don’t be fooled into thinking there’s no need to do recommended readings and activities. 

Being prepared for classes so you can get the most out of them will save you a lot of time and stress as exams loom. If you have participated in classes and understood the content you’re already halfway to doing well in exams.

Trying to read 17 chapters in one night has been attempted by many students before you, and most of them will assure you the content is not being absorbed as effectively as if you read the chapters week-to-week.

5. Note taking

There are many different ways that people like to tackle lectures – and there is no wrong way.

Figure out what works for you to make sure you are getting the most out of lectures.

Some people print lecture slides and make their own notes in the margins, some will write down everything being said or just the main talking points.

Then there are the people who turn up without a book and just listen to the information without any distractions to ensure they understand it. 

6. Going to lectures versus viewing online

At university most of your lectures will be available online.  You will hear the words “the lectures for this unit will be available online” many times over the course of your degree, and it can be very tempting to stay home and listen in the comfort of your own bed.

These recorded lectures are provided to assist you in learning and studying in a way that best suits you. They are great to have when you are sick, and are essential for students with health or personal issues, but you shouldn't rely on them as your only avenue of learning.

Recorded lectures provide a great studying resource so you can revisit content from early on in the semester that may have slipped your mind. They are provided as a supplement to face-to-face learning, rather than a replacement.

Attending all your tutorials and lectures in your first year sets you up with good habits early on and helps you make friends with people in the same course as you. 

Not turning up for classes can get you in all kinds of strife, like being put in a group assignment with no one you know because you weren’t there to run across the room and sit next to your buddies.  

You should also be aware that some subjects have a minimum attendance requirement in order to pass.

7. Exams and assignment preparation

Preparing well for exams will probably be one of the most important things you do to ensure success throughout your degree.

A good place to start is by reviewing the recorded lectures to refresh your memory on the topics covered and catch up on any readings you missed throughout semester.  

There are services available online and in-person to assist you with study preparation and researching.

The UQ libraries have AskUs service points in most of the campus locations and they can help you with researching, finding and accessing sources

If you can’t make it into a library, the  AskUs website provides online chat and phone options, and has a FAQ page covering some common issues faced by students.

Visit the  Student Services Learning Hub to enrol in learning workshops, and access resources on assignment writing, time management and study management.

You can also make a one-on-one appointment with a learning advisor.

By Katrina Shimmin-Clarke

UQ students throwing caps in the air after graduation UQ students throwing caps in the air after graduation