Balancing life and uni during your first year

Author: Ashleigh



Ashleigh is a UOW Communications and Media/Arts student – (Sociology, History and Journalism) making memes, sharing things!

The first year of university study can be a daunting one. There’s no question that the switch to online learning and working from home during the current COVID-19 pandemic has further added to the stressors involved with this first year. But not to worry! Below you will find some tips to get you on top of your university work and allow you to do the best that you can under the circumstances.

#1 Let it sit

The first tip that comes to mind is not to read your work too early in the drafting process. Some might already know this from their senior years in high school, but for those that don’t, this proves to be a timeless piece of advice. Don’t read your essay or your blog post directly after writing it. Too often, people will immediately read over what they have written, and become disheartened or frustrated when they find that it didn’t flow the way that they wanted, or that it was riddled with errors. The advice here is to simply give yourself the satisfaction of completing whatever you have worked on (even if it’s just for an hour) before you begin to critique it and pull it apart. This break from your work is not only beneficial to your confidence, but will allow you to come back to your work with a fresh pair of eyes and perhaps an even better understanding of what you wish to say. In saying this, it’s important to allow enough time for your editing.

#2 Plan your subjects well in advance

When you receive your subject outline at the beginning of the semester, break this down and log it into your computer. Do this for all of your subjects, and set reminders so that you will never miss a due-date. They certainly have a habit of sneaking up on you! You can use whatever app or software you like to do this, however I opt to log everything into my computer’s calendar. I also set the dates for assessments a day or two prior to the due-date, on the off chance that I forget to complete them. This gives you enough time for a panic — or a last minute read through — depending on the type of person you are.

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#3 Plan your weeks

Sit down either every Friday at the end of your working week or every Sunday at the beginning and go over everything that is due or needs working on. This helps to break up everything into achievable goals and may look a little some like: Monday: one paragraph for your BCM113 explainer, Tuesday: BCM110 blog post and one reading etc If possible, try have a physical calendar — or a monthly planner — that you keep in front of your desk or within eyesight somewhere in your working space to keep you on track. If your tasks are visible, you are more likely to hold yourself accountable for what needs to be completed. Breaking down your tasks really helps. If you’re aiming to complete a little bit of your work every day it’s easier to avoid becoming overwhelmed when suddenly everything is due all at once. Since this is probably your first university attempt, you need to give yourself the chance to figure out how this whole situation really works for you, without stressing yourself out too much.

#4 The Twitter-sphere

Set aside half an hour within your daily planning to catch up on the BCM twitter feed. It’s so important to stay relevant within this degree and it’s also great to interact with your fellow cohort and tutors. Twitter is also full of opportunities to collaborate with other students for Digital Artefacts or assessments, or even for some external projects that you may be interested in to help build your online portfolio! It’s also important to note that for the Communications and Media degree, Twitter can sometimes be the first point of reference for some of your tutors and lecturers. They share some extremely relevant stuff in the hashtags that you might find useful for your assessments, as well as up-to-date information about tasks and tutorials.

#5 Your Tutors and Lecturers

We’re so lucky within BCM to have a teaching team that really cares about us. It’s the general consensus within BCM that our tutors and lecturers are extremely down-to-earth and understanding. Keep in mind that they’re people too and have done this whole studying thing just like you! Your subject outline has most of the answers, but some subjects like BCM114 or BCM112 have entire templates dedicated to helping you understand your assessments. Your tutors make the effort to do this to help you the best they can — they want you to succeed just as much as you do!

#6 If you’re not sure, ask!

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Twitter is a great place to ask the questions that you might feel are silly, but are probably important. The chances are that if you’re not sure about something, your other classmates might not be either! Your tutors would much rather you ask a question than for you not to do well — just remember to use the appropriate hashtags (BCM112, BCM110, BCM113 etc) and a tutor should come running!



#7 Finally — look after yourself!

It’s all well and good to meticulously plan out your days, but this will be no help to you if you’re not looking after yourself first and foremost! No matter how much or how little you have planned, your assessments will not get completed to your full potential if you are stressed out of your mind! It’s so normal to feel stressed — and you will feel stressed at some point — you’ve just got to make sure that you recognise and appropriately manage it before it gets out of hand.

A simple way to manage your stress and make sure you are really giving yourself time to relax is to incorporate things you like when you are jotting down your daily plans. Set aside time to exercise for half an hour, watch an episode of your TV show, or hang out with your friends. Make sure you write this down in your planner in among your university work to hold yourself accountable. You can’t tell yourself you don’t have time for these things if you have already written it into your daily life. It’s important to take these little breaks, even more so when you’re stressing about an assignment. I promise that your essay or your blog post will still be there after a quick walk around the block! This little break away from your work might even be exactly what you need in order to keep going.

So there you have it, some little tips to get you through your first year of university. By no means is this a definitive guide, but it might be beneficial to try these little things out and incorporate them into your routine in ways that best suit you.

Featured Image by Matt Ragland on Unsplash