Surviving First Year – What We Wish We Had Known

Surviving First Year – What We Wish We Had Known

Starting at university or college is an amazing privilege. With so many people out there hankering for the opportunity you have, you must be super-excited, right!? So why are you feeling so apprehensive/ anxious/ nervous / terrified? It’s the fear of the unknown – and it’s perfectly natural.

To help reduce your anxiety and fear, here are some lessons we have learned - the hard way. Knowing these things before starting tertiary might have avoided some tough situations. Hopefully reading this will give you a head start for a successful tertiary education.

  1. Create an Academic Map 

Registering can be incredibly stressful: “How many credits am I going to take? How many classes does that translate to? When are those classes available? Will I be able to take them all? Which semester are they offered? Most importantly, will I be able to graduate on time?

Create and academic map of the next 2, 3 or 4 years (which every applies to your qualification). If possible, sit down with an academic counsellor/advisor and ask all the questions you are not sure of. Ask them to help plot your map to graduation. This academic map will create clarity and a vision and keep you on track to finish your required courses to graduate within the right amount of time. (Which saves time and money – priceless!)

Put your academic map where you can see it – is bright, inspiring colours. Use this to motivate you. It will remind you of the end goal!

  1. Get Everything in Writing 

Any time a decision about the requirements for your graduation or any special circumstance is being made – get it in writing (physical or digital) to cover your butt.

The people who work in varsity offices/faculties are human; and they see hundreds if not thousands of students every single day. Getting these agreements in writing protects you from others’ forgetfulness and ensures you stay on track and are treated fairly in a busy and confusing academic environment.

  1. Ask for help 

The jump from high school to tertiary is a big one. You will stumble at some point. ASK FOR HELP! Sooner rather than later. There is no place for pride. Proverbs 16 v 18 says “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Ask for help:

  1. Tutor groups / In tutorials
  2. Consult with your lecturer!
  3. A fellow student (who is doing well, NOT the one who is falling flat on their face alongside you)
  4. 2nd or 3rd year students
  5. Faculty advisors


  1. Google It H2

You’ve heard it before in class, “There is no such thing as a stupid question”, and then you get laughed at when asking about something you don’t understand.

With tools such as YouTube and Google, you can go and discover the answers on your own with no fear of being ridiculed. Find good channels, and resources to support your studies.

(Other useful Google tools include Google Docs to collaborate with teams; Google Slides to create presentations; Google Calendar to schedule your activities; and Google Keep to be organised.


  1. Get organised from the start 

Have your room organised, have your books organised, have your laptop organised.

  • Create files for each module.
  • Have a clear way to name your saved files e.g. module name_topic_activity (assignment / notes / essay / project etc).
  • Keep everything in the cloud in case your laptop gets stolen.
  • Create a master schedule to run your daily, weekly and monthly tasks.

The Dux Advantage

Your goals, in reach, together. Dux has your back. We specialise in giving all the support needed for the increased mental health and wellbeing you need in order to thrive academically and in life. Contact us today, and get your ducks in a row: 060.656.1305  |

Dux | dʌks |  noun  "The top pupil in a class.”

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