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5 things I would do differently if I went back in time to my first year of uni

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Being out of uni and looking back on my first year, there are definitely a number of things that I would do differently if I had the chance. We’re always learning and the best thing is we don’t have to make all the mistakes ourselves. Here are a few things that I would do differently if I had my time over as a first year uni student.

#1 Know my end goal

The goal is not just to finish uni, but to make a significant step forward towards independence and living that lifestyle you’ve always wanted for yourself. Sometimes reminding yourself of the bigger picture can be just what you need to get through whatever heavy uni work you have on. If that doesn’t get you going, find something to get excited about. This could be the holiday you have planned for the break or your friends party that you’ve got an epic costume prepared for. Your bigger picture is whatever is most important to you. Think of it as your why – why you’re doing what you’re doing at this point in time. It doesn’t always have to be about finishing uni and getting a job 🙂

#2 Be the first one to say “Hi” at the start of semester

There are a lot of fellow first year students that are just as nervous as you and a simple “hey, how are you!” is a game changer in making friends at uni! When you’re waiting outside your tutorial/lecture room in that first week, don’t pull out your phone to look busy. Instead, go say hi to someone who’s also waiting. That simple hello could open up a world of unique uni experiences for yourself and your new friend!

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#3 Be more proactive with assessments

Dwelling on how much work I had to do every semester when the assessments packed on was a waste of time. Instead, focusing on one task and just starting was all I needed to do as the momentum builds from there. Doing the work early makes your personal time that much sweeter and guilt free.

#4 Organise more social outings

Take the lead with organising social outings amongst your uni friends. It could be as simple as grabbing a drink at the uni bar after class or gathering a group of people to hit up a uni event. I only started doing this towards my final year and I had the most fun at uni I ever had throughout my degree! If you’re going to be at uni for 3-5 years, you might as well make it a good 3-5 years!

I remember one lecturer really emphasising the importance of networking at uni and how it also opens up opportunities down the line. I know friends who got sought after jobs because of personal recommendations from friends they met at uni.

#5 Be smarter with money

I have to admit that I was a bit of a sale hoarder when it came to online shopping. I’ve now realised that it’s so much better to have a small set of clothing staples that you actually wear often vs an abundance of stuff that you rarely even use. If saving isn’t your thing (though we all know it should be!) I’d say spend your money on experiences and not on acquiring more things. For example, boxing lessons brought more value in my life than owning multiple pairs of stylish sneakers ever would have.

#6 Be assertive with group members and not passive aggressive

At some point in your degree you might run into the odd group member who doesn’t really pull their weight. I used to take a passive aggressive approach in my first year and it only stressed me out having it constantly play in my mind at how unfair the situation was. It took me a while to learn that addressing any red flags at their first sign was a much better approach. Not every situation is the same but I found that confidently and assertively addressing any issues was a better approach than pretending that everything was all good to avoid confrontation. Take the situation as an opportunity to practice being cool, calm and collected. You’re going to face more of these later down the track and having experience in confidently working through them is invaluable. If pain persists with the group member, just speak to your tutor about the actions you’ve taken to address the issue.

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Uni is going to be a significant part of your early adult life, so minimise the amount of time you waste on meaningless activities and focus on having great experiences to look back on. It will go by fast, so make sure you enjoy it while you’re there 🙂

Michael

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