Wish I knew then, what I know now…

Once upon a time I was a lost, confused and completely overwhelmed University student. Sound familiar?

After four long years stumbling my way through the maze that is University life and now a few years into the working world, I feel somewhat equipped to impart my wisdom on the current generation of uni-goers with some advice I wish I took on board in my study journey…

1. Do not and I repeat DO NOT leave things to the last minute!

Don’t leave it until Week 9 of term to catch up on all your weekly readings (yes, I’m ashamedly guilty of this one). Take it from someone who’s been there, done that – it doesn’t end well for your grades or your mental wellbeing.

The self-sabotaging behaviour of the last-minute rush will undoubtedly have you curled up in the fetal position contemplating your decision to even go to University. While starting that 2000-word essay on a Friday night may just be the least appealing of options, I promise you it’s better than the alternative. Pulling an all-nighter before the deadline, hurriedly attempting to scrape together a legit submission won’t just leave you with an abundance of anxiety, but a feeling of disappointment knowing you could have done better had you used your time more productively.

If the dreaded thought of sitting down for hours to study is just too much to bare, why not tackle it in half hour blocks? Eliminate your distractions (yes, that means step away from the iPhone…), set a goal for what you want to achieve in those 30 minutes and reward yourself once you’ve accomplished that goal.

Keep in mind, the hard work you put in by starting early, planning ahead and making progress throughout will save you a whole lot of tears, caffeine and heartache! And by making good habits now, you will set yourself up to be the most organised professional in the workplace.

2. Use the Support Services available to you

I tried to be that arrogantly independent student who thought I could do it all on my own and it’s one of my biggest study regrets. CQUni has a plethora of support services available with people who genuinely want to help you achieve success. And the best part? They’re free and available to you – no matter whether you study on campus or online.

Don’t waste hours of your time desperately fumbling through Google searching for how to get started on that assignment or what on earth APA referencing is. Let the Academic Learning Centre guide you to academic success – they can provide you with lessons on writing and referencing, teach you the how-to approach of university study and help you navigate the technological challenges you may encounter.

The Counselling team aren’t just there for that meltdown near end of term where it all feels like it’s getting too much; they have great tips for surviving and thriving at University, achieving a study/life balance and helping you navigate your world outside of the lecture theatre.

You’ve chosen the degree and you know how many years of study lie ahead of you – people might be mistaken for thinking you have it all figured out. But what if you still can’t answer that age-old question – what do you want to be? I know I couldn’t! This is where the Careers specialists step in and guide you along the right path to your dream career, no matter how hazy that path becomes!

And that aptly leads me to my next point…

3. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to have it all figured out

When I started university, I knew what subjects I liked and those I didn’t – but I had no idea what profession I wanted to end up in. I thought I had four long years ahead of me to figure it out. But I tell you what, four years goes by pretty quickly and nearing my final exams, I still didn’t have a clue. I shamefully put so much pressure on myself feeling as though I had failed in life because I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do, let alone secured a job like many of my peers.

The world works in mysterious ways so trust in the process and enjoy the journey. While it may be frustrating, the journey often leads you on the path to exactly where you’re meant to be. So, put your head down, work hard and be open to looking for opportunities outside of the box.

While that dream job might not come to you straightaway, the journey of your hard work and perseverance will make you appreciate it so much more once you reach your destination.

4. Network, network, network!

You might not be in the workplace just yet, but getting a headstart on making professional connections will take you far. You never know who your classmates know, or work with and could potentially introduce you to.

Networking won’t just help set you up with some potential job opportunities, it will also help you progress your social skills. Who knows, you might even make a lifelong friend or two!

Engage with your lecturers too, and take their advice on board. After all, they’ve been in your shoes before! I made the effort to get to know my lecturers and develop professional relationships with them. I now work alongside many of the lecturers who taught me and in fact, my first job opportunity straight out of university came directly from my head lecturer referring me!

The university journey is exciting, turbulent and full of lessons and believe it or not, it goes quickly (way too quickly). You may not realise it now, but a part of you will miss your uni days so enjoy them while you can!

For more advice, tips and tricks to help get you through your university days, check out the Alumni Advice guide which gives you advice from other CQUni graduates – everything from study preparation, socialising and how to get ahead in your studies and career. Remember, whatever your journey through your studies, more than 90,000 CQUni graduates have been in similar situations – and through the CQUni alumni bond, they’re willing to lend you a helping hand.

Don’t forget, you can also connect with over 200 CQUni alumni if you sign up to our online mentoring program!

Elle Mccosker (https://cqunilife.com)

Hi, I'm Elle! I am a proud CQUni Business and Prof Comm graduate and current member of the CQUni Student Communications team. After 3 years of coordinating major student milestones from orientation right through to graduation, I have a passion for creating memorable and valuable student experiences! I remember Uni life all too well - from the frequent procrastination, occasional meltdown and over-consumption of caffeine. I'm excited to show you not only how to survive the roller coaster we call University, but how to enjoy the ride!

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