How to survive and thrive in your first year of uni (COVID-19 edition)

2020 was a weird year to be a first-year University student. What seemed like a good three weeks on campus, came crashing down to a whole year of online learning. In 2021, things should hopefully return to normal at least halfway through the year. But what if they don’t? How will you survive?

My name is Aleksandar Veselinovic, and I am now entering my second year of uni, studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media degree at UOW Liverpool. I major in Digital and Social Media, as well as Marketing.

The purpose of writing this post is to provide you with some tips and tricks that you should be doing as a first-year student at uni. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.   

Turn up to your classes even if they are online

I must admit, online classes can sometimes be a drag. However, that is not an excuse to not go. You never know what important content you could miss out on. A lot of people say that lectures are unnecessary and pointless. But, unless you have a valid reason not to be there, you should attend your scheduled lectures.

Make use of recorded classes

Depending on what kind of tutor and or/lecturer you have for your classes, they will let you know if they are recording the material so that they can put it up on Moodle for everyone to access. This is great for those that cannot attend class due to work or any other valid reason. This is also a great way to take notes. If you miss anything important during class, go back, re-watch it and write it down.

Don’t do assessments last minute

I’m sure you’ve heard this multiple times by now. Doing assessments last minute can only result in stress for no reason. If you know you have an assignment due, try to do it at least a week earlier to give yourself enough time to edit and fix it up to make sure that it’s perfect for submission.

Read assessment guidelines and marking criteria in detail

If you are ever stuck on what to do for an assignment, read what the guidelines say. Every assessment comes with marking criteria and guidelines. If for some reason this is not the case, consult your tutors and/or lecturers and they will be more than happy to help you.

Know when things are due

UOW has a great online system that gives you a heads up a week before an assessment is due. You must know when things are due. You don’t want to lose unnecessary marks because you were late to submit or simply forgot. Unfortunately, that is not a valid excuse in most subjects.

Pick a second major

In almost every degree that you study, you will have the opportunity to select elective units. These are subjects that don’t have to relate to your degree, but you can take them because they may seem interesting to you. I feel that it is a waste picking random units. Why not just do a second major? For instance, I have an interest in marketing. Therefore, I took up marketing as a second major. By doing this, I have also expanded my potential career field. If you are studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media, here are some of the majors that you can take:

  • Digital and Social Media
  • Screen Media Production
  • Journalism
  • Marketing Communication and Advertising
  • Visual Communication Design

See anything you like? Why not pick it up as a second major?

Apply for every scholarship that you meet the criteria for

For some reason, I feel like a lot of people don’t do this. I have applied for multiple scholarships in my first year, and luckily enough, I managed to secure 2. With the money that I received from my scholarships; I was lucky enough to not have to work to support my lifestyle. What are scholarships though? Scholarships are an amount of money given to a student from the university. Most don’t require you to do anything besides keep a pass, or credit average mark in your degree. The best part is that they are free. It does not cost you anything to apply. Next time you receive an email about a scholarship, make sure you read the criteria, and if you meet them, apply on the spot!

Don’t just aim for a pass mark

I used to think that I’d go to uni and breeze my way through by just getting pass marks. This didn’t last very long. After I started getting assessment results, I knew that I was better than a pass mark and it motivated me to aim for higher results. When you graduate your final weighted average mark (WAM) will appear on your degree. Now, imagine if an employer looks at this – which does sometimes happen. Who do you think they would most likely hire – a person with a passing average, or a person with a distinction average? Try your best to aim for at least a credit average minimum in all your classes.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

This one resonates with me personally and I’m sure that it is relatable for most. When you first start your course, it may be a bit scary to put your hand up to ask a question. With online learning, it’s as easy as shooting your tutor and/or lecturer a private message either through Discord, Zoom, Teams, or whatever software you will be using in your classes. Take advantage of this. If you are ever stuck or need help, (after double checking the subject outline) send your tutors/lecturers a DM!

Enjoy your degree!

When at university, you get to choose from hundreds of different degrees and areas of study. The degree you picked must have stood out to you for a particular reason. Whatever that may be, enjoy your time at uni. Uni is an enjoyable experience even if it is currently only online. You get to learn new things, meet new people, and you get the opportunity to go into your dream career once you are done. Make sure you enjoy the short years you spend at uni. 

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. This is all the advice I have to offer after only being in uni for a year. I have been in your position and I know what it feels like to be lost. Hopefully, this guide will help you.

If you have managed to read all the way through to the end, you are a legend! If you happen to have any questions or comments feel free to post them below and I will be more than happy to get back to you.


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