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Joseph41

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Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« on: November 13, 2016, 10:34:20 am »
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Making the most of university

This is a collaborative and ongoing post. I will be adding to it continually as more people contribute. Please, please, please comment below with your own perspectives, thoughts, musings, experiences, feedback, disagreements, questions, and so on.


An initial disclaimer:

Spoiler
I donít pretend to be an expert on this, and everything presented here is opinion-based (different things work for different people, and different users will always have different perspectives). I write this post because I feel there is a somewhat romanticised version of university life that does the rounds and, for many, thatís not the reality of their experience. My major point in this thread is that thatís okay Ė you might go to uni and absolutely love it, but you may also find it difficult at first. Perhaps both. Thatís okay.

Iím entirely honest in saying that I loathed my first year. Absolutely hated it. I really, really struggled to find the right sort of balance in my life, and it was undoubtedly a major transition for me from high school. I think I would have benefitted from a post like this and, considering a lot of people are finishing up from VCE/HSC/whatever else at the moment, I think itís quite nicely timed. By the end of my university experience, I loved nothing more than going into campus (well, maybe not he travel itself) and studying.

Basically, I thought Iíd write a little guide on making the most of university. Generally, itís quite different to Year 12, and this is tricky for many. Firstly, Iíd recommend reading this thread: How university works (It has 91 upvotes, so you know it must be good.)

But knowing what uni is and how it works is very different to actually benefiting from it Ė or, perhaps further still, genuinely enjoying it. Below are some musings that I have collected on how to approach university. They are varied, but some general themes become apparent. My own advice reflects my personal experiences, but I acknowledge its contradictory nature at times (what I suggest often starkly contrasts what I did). At this point, I must say a huge thank you to all those who have contributed to this thread thus far:

Aaron, AngelWings, appleandbee, brenden, EEEEEEP, elysepopplewell, EulerFan101, heids, IndefatigableLover, mahler004, Orb, RuiAce, Specter, spectroscopy



I would absolutely love it if people were to contribute their own experiences, here Ė the more the merrier, particularly given the myriad of courses and universities represented on AN. And Iíll be updating this post as we go, inserting pieces of advice from users in this thread. :)

Basically, there will be five sections: academic (but fair warning: Iíll actually talk about mostly non-academic things, here), social, involvement, coping, and expectations.

Part 1 || Academia: marks, grades, studying and stuff

Spoiler
Youíve just come out of the competitive beast that is HSC/VCE, where essentially everything builds up to your ATAR, and marks are generally seen to be quite important.

Iíll be blunt: uni, for a lot of people, is a different experience. Youíve probably heard the old ďATARs donít matter in uniĒ, and this is fundamentally true Ė I think Iíve had one conversation regarding Year 12 results in my four years of uni, and even that was really weird. I mean, ATARs are certainly important as a mean to an end (i.e. getting into what you want to get into), but theyíre not particularly socially valued (except in weird cases) at uni.

Basically, itís a fresh slate and, for the most part, people couldnít care less if you score High Distinctions, Distinctions, Credits, Passes or Fails (or their equivalents; marking systems change from uni to uni).

Donít get me wrong, Iím not at all saying that marks donít matter at all Ė because that would be silly, especially in some fields, where good parts are necessary for career advancement. But your grades are but one element of the university experience. The point of this particular section is to make clear (at least from my own perspective) that attending uni isnít primarily about getting good marks. For me, uni is about personal development Ė and good marks can certainly be a result of this.

Quote from: Aaron
I think the most important thing one can take out of it is that marks is not everything. You have to make the most of any opportunity that presents itself, whether this be a casual job, volunteering, or joining some sort of club/group.

Quote from: mahler004
A lot of students have the mentality that marks are the end, not a means to an end. 5 years post-graduation, nobody's going to care about your marks in Calculus 1. Once you've got a job or two under your belt, your GPA will become much less important. Your marks are just one aspect - work experience is equally (if not more) valuable - obviously, work experience relevant to your field is about the best thing that you can get. Same for other extracurricular activities. Also look for internships and similar work experience

Quote from: mahler004
I guess it's different to VCE - it's tempting to look at your GPA as a 'university ATAR', while this isn't really the case. It's not as you'll show your transcript to a prospective employer, 'oh you've got a 85 GPA, you can start right away!' - in the way that your 95 ATAR guarantees you entry into a BSc at Melbourne University. You'll need to interview well, and, ideally have some work experience too. University is the best opportunity to build this up - don't become so preoccupied with your GPA that you ignore everything else. It's counterproductive.

And thatís pretty spot on in my mind, too. For many (certainly not all), uni comes with the Ďfreedomí of time: youíre not necessarily expected to be at uni all day, every working day, and you most certainly have a greater level of independence than you would have at school; you can mostly come and go as you please. This means that your time may very well be more flexible than it was previously, and my own opinion is that you should try to use that time to your advantage.

By this, I donít mean you should study 24/7. Not even close. Instead, Iím talking about the extracurricular shit. If youíre anything like me, you probably groan when you see ďextracurricular activitiesĒ, because pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can be really, really, really difficult, and I absolutely get that, but itís totally worth it in the end.

Good marks are important enough and desirable, but so too is experience (to an even greater extent IMO). As Aaron says, working, volunteering, joining clubs Ė itís all part of the university experience further to the academic side. Iíll expand on this a little later on.

Quote from: mahler004
It's worth keeping in mind what you want in the end, and the marks you'll need to get there. It's more important if you're considering postgrad, especially a postgrad with a high GPA requirement (or grad program). Most (but not all) postgrad programs will look on relevant extracurriculars favourably, too. If you're aiming for say, a Masters program, Honours or similar, it's worth remembering the score you'll need through your degree.

Iím not really going to speak much here about how to Ďdo wellí (academically) in uni, for thatís not the core point of the post (and I wouldnít be well qualified to, anyway, considering I have experience in but one of many possible degrees). I guess the sub-title was a little misleading in that sense! (Cheeky, cheeky.) Although, if youíre interested, I did do a little piece on writing university essays here.

Also, a slight side note, this post here by Brenden pretty much sums it up, anyway. Youíd be doing yourself a disservice by not reading it. A quick excerpt:

Quote from: Brenden
Become a bafflingly and slightly worrisome semi-psychotic fiend about your marks and pretend not to be one when you go outside.

And in the nineteen hours I spent looking for that post, I also came across one of my own, which Iím going to attach in the spoiler below. But first, here's a little something from EulerFan101:

Quote from: EulerFan101
High school was all about practice questions after practice questions, and I personally found this boring and tedious, and you'd usually bash the same principle to death over a couple of weeks. In university, you usually spend 1 hour MAX on a principle, and only see it again if it's useful for other ideas. In this way, I often did a lot more work, yes - however, it didn't feel like work. It was fun, and enjoyable, and I didn't have to beat this damn concept to death with practice questions, because at university they don't try to fuck you over like VCAA does - they just want you to learn something.

Spoiler
tl;dr: It doesn't require anything special. Be attentive, work hard.
Source: 24 units, 24 High Distinctions.

I'm afraid I can only speak for Arts, having just completed a straight Arts degree. But here are some general tips:

Organisation

In my view, the number one factor. You're obviously cluey enough to do well by virtue of getting into uni in the first place. The only thing stopping you from doing so, really, is not being on the ball (from a simplistic view, at least). Personally, I use religiously to-do lists. Practically every day, now that I think about it. I just feel so much better about the world when I know what I have to do exactly, rather than having a whole bunch of stuff sitting over my head.

So a to-do list of mine might look something like this:

Spoiler
- Psych readings
- Psych summary for assessment task
- Linguistics readings
- Finish Linguistics essay
- Contact faculty re: exchange
- Finish email for work
- Re-read History essay
- Submit History essay

Just that sort of thing. Simple, specific tasks that can easily be ticked off one by one. And the ones that I don't achieve go straight onto tomorrow's list.

Follow the nĪ2 rule

This is something that I have always really done, but I've stolen this terminology from Brenden. Basically, it proposes that you work ahead of where you need to be. If something is due in five days, consider it (and really consider it) due in three. That gives you a buffer of two days, should anything go wrong.

Believe it or not, I have never submitted a single assessment task at uni on the day that it was due. In fact, I don't think I've even left it as late as the day before it was due. Silly? Sure, maybe, but it's served me pretty well. Stress levels decrease, marks improve, what's not to love?

Be a perfectionist, even if you're not

Be absolutely sure that you follow referencing requirements. Re-read your work a number of times. Be professional in your presentation. I tried to do all of the above and, funnily, I think it will actually help me as I go into Honours next year. Make being professional, clean and accurate a habit, and you will be rewarded in the future.

Do the readings

Arts. Lots of readings. Many are long. But do them, and take good notes. There's no point reading if you're not taking anything in, and this is what will set you apart from your peers. Doing the readings means that you can discuss with purpose the content in tutes and the like, and actually learn something from your uni experience.

You won't do every reading you're ever assigned. I'm sort of strategic in this way; in the first week or two, you can usually tell what sort of unit it is. Some rely heavily on the readings; I do the readings for this unit. There are many units in which I've not touched a single reading, but you need to be sure that you can get by without them. This will probably come with experience. In first year, I would certainly err on the side of caution.

Take advantage of easy marks

I read one of Brenden's posts along these lines one time. It was very good. In some units, you might have online quizzes, or attendance marks, or other such things. It absolutely blows my mind that people look at these in such a way that they end up not caring about losing the marks. Maybe you have ten online quizzes across the semester, worth 2% each. So many people don't bother because they're only worth 2% each; "what's the point?" they ask. But if you had an essay worth 20%, would you be saying the same?

It's absolutely crazy. Usually you can get gimme marks just from going to class, pitching in with an idea or two, and doing what should, in my mind, be the absolute minimum of at least getting each assessment in on time. Including the ones worth practically nothing, because they do add up.

And lastly - perhaps unexpectedly -

Make friends, be social

Uni is a life experience. If you don't like uni, you won't be motivated to learn, and your results will reflect that. The more I've become involved with uni, the better I have done academically. So get out there, try to make some friends, join some clubs (though, admittedly, I'm not directly involved in any), and have some fun.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

All the best,
Nick. :)

Part 2 || Social: friends, loneliness, classmates and stuff

Spoiler
So Iíve contended that uni isnít all about academic stuff. What is it about, then? I think a lot of things, one of which is certainly the social side.

Now, before we go on, I must tell you this:

Iím not good with people. I donít much enjoy being around people; I hate meeting new people. I feel awkward, Iím a huge introvert Ė I just donít much like making friends. Or, perhaps more accurately, the feeling that I need to make new friends. So for me to say that the social side is one of the best parts of uni, thatís pretty telling IMO.

Iím not talking about parties and booze cruises and whatever else, necessarily. Like, I absolutely hate this situation Ė couldnít think of anything worse Ė and Iíve never been involved in anything like that at uni. Doubtlessly, a lot of people do, and thatís totally fine Ė different strokes for different folks. But what Iím saying is that the stereotypical ďuni lifeĒ isnít necessarily a reflection of what itís going to be like for you.

I donít think I made a single friend in my first year of uni, but that was probably due to me: I avoided people as best I could, basically. But itís also perhaps that adjusting to the social life of uni can be really hard. I mean, my school had ~1,200 students, which isnít exactly tiny, but my campus hosts ~35,000 (obviously not all at once, but there are a lot of people). The learning style is different, the campus is much bigger Ė everythingís new, basically.

Quote from: heids
I actually found it really easy to make acquaintances in tutes; I just chatted randomly and casually to anyone near me, made sure I remembered everyone's names, appeared interested in them and their lives, etc.  But no real friends.  My fault for spending the bare minimum time possible at uni, but also... I just found no one like me.  Probably would have changed if I went through more years at uni and gave it a better chance.

Once I became more comfortable within myself, I started making some friends Ė and some really good friends. Sometimes, you just have to put yourself out there (this from RuiAce):

Quote from: RuiAce
I just let the friend-making process flow by itself. First few days - just force myself to say hi nice to meet you to the person next to you, and then you just meet people from there. But getting involved with my societies did help as well

And Aaron reinforces this:

Quote from: Aaron
Get to know students in your tutorials, workshops etc.. these people in the smaller classes are the ones that you'll spend most of your time with. If you're a bit shy (like me), then being smart and helping others works too.

For some courses, the people you have classes with will probably stay relatively consistent. People can correct me if Iím wrong, here, but for something like undergraduate Medicine, thereís a much greater Ďcohortí feel than in something like Arts, where you may very well never see or hear from people in a particular unit again.

Quote from: Specter
If you plan to go to lectures while waiting outside just strike a conversation. If not, dont worry you will get your opportunity once you go inside. The first lecture, trust 99% of everyone in first year will be there. By week 12 that number will probably be around 30%. So chances are in your first lecture, it will be packed which means you will probably be sitting next to someone, talk talk, then next lecture come up and say hi.

Tutorials, is slightly different. Probably not packed, but you will see these people for the next 12 weeks, so try to make friends, at least group discussions will be bearable.

Quote from: IndefatigableLover
It helps that majority of my school came to the same university as me but I wanted to distance myself away and meet new people which has been an awesome experience through clubs, volunteering as well tutorials/lectures! With tutorials/lectures, I found it's easier to meet people in specialised streams (E.g Biomed) since people actually came to tutorials/lectures and are generally the same age as you whereas generalised streams (E.g Commerce) tend to have a mixture of 1st-4th years in your tutorials/lectures :P

Quote from: AngelWings
Most of it was really taking initiative and saying 'hi' (and if you see them a few times, ask to friend them on FB or something) or helping them out with something they didn't understand. Sometimes it was just about teaming up with people who you already knew - my high school friend ended up befriending others and then I ended up as friends with them.

Quote from: mahler004
Agreed - the first few years of my degrees, all my courses had 1000+ people, so making friends was hard (you'd make friends in a prac, and never see them after the end of the semester.) Became easier in third year and beyond, as the classes are small enough, and you generally have classes with the same group of people.

Quote from: EulerFan101
I found that the university had LOADS of camps and opportunities to make new friends, it's just a matter of putting yourself out there. Even then, if you have subjects with labs (which are VERY compulsory and you should go to), you'll often find you just naturally mingle with everyone, particularly if you put in an effort to get to know them all. If they're doing this subject with you, it's highly likely they have similar interests and/or goals, so you'll probably get along!

Also, clubs. I really don't have to say much more - clubs are social places. Join a club with interests you have. Other people will have those interests. You will make friends, whether you like it or not.

Whilst class is a good place to initiative friendships, IMO they sort of need to transcend the lecture theatre/tutorial room/lab.

And one really great way of making friends/becoming more involved is joining clubs, societies, and what have you, which is the focus of the next section. The core point here, though, is try not to be *too* distressed if youíre struggling (socially) to begin with. Basically everybody will be in the same boat Ė itíll get easier.

Part 3 || Involvement: clubs, societies, volunteering and stuff

Spoiler
This is important, IMO. To my knowledge, pretty much all unis have a buttload of clubs, societies, and whatever else that you can join and to which you can contribute. Anecdotally and from personal experience, heaps of students tend to avoid such opportunities at the start of their university experience. I get it Ė thereís enough to work out without having extra commitments Ė but the missed opportunities are often considerable. According to Orb:

Quote from: Orb
I felt there was just so much that I personally missed out on Sem 1 (think: joining student committees, applying for scholarships, Big 4 development programmes, etc). It's completely different to like high school where every opportunity is marketed a billion times

And thatís the thing, really. As Orb suggests, these sorts of opportunities often wonít just turn up in your inbox. For me, possibly my biggest regret in uni is having absolutely no idea about the Ancora Imporo Program at Monash:

Quote
The Vice-Chancellor's Ancora Imparo Program is a unique opportunity, available only to second-year Monash University students. Participants will hear from inspiring leaders with backgrounds ranging from business, politics, sport, public service, education, health, law, and the arts.

I simply had never heard of it until it was too late, and I reckon that would have been a ludicrously rewarding experience. Similar opportunities exist across the board:

Quote from: Orb
Like also there was this fantastic volunteering opportunity that I took part in over SWOTVAC period (SWOT with MUHI at melbourne). Downright fantastic 2 days that I spent with students from underrepresented schools. Never heard of it before and I only found out because a friend shared it with me. Possibly missed out on tons of fabulous experience without even being aware 

Quote from: Aaron
In my final year, I joined an orientation mentor program where I assisted new 1st year students in my discipline. In that same year, I signed up to be a lab demonstrator/tutor and honestly this did so much for my confidence and experience. So grateful for both these opportunities because they definitely made me a better person and reaffirmed my desire to teach and mentor young people.

Quote from: IndefatigableLover
I found all extracurricular activities I did were beneficial whether it be meeting new people, empowering young students and career progression, it's been really helpful. I won't go into all but for volunteering this year, I was a mentor at Access Monash (which has led me to be involved with Student Recruitment so anybody at Monash COP then I'll see you there), consulting and various uni clubs (interested in Economics then hmu)!!

Quote from: EulerFan101
I got involved with so many clubs - and like many people, I went to almost none of them. However, there were a few that I kept up with - the board games society, who I go to every few weeks, which I find is a great opportunity to just sit down and relax and play some really fun games. There's also my own course club (which I eventually became president of, olol), where I met most of my closest friends at uni. So many benefits, and it cost barely anything with the nice, little MSA card.

Quote from: appleandbee
Most of my friends are from uni debating (I also have friends in debating societies in other universities). I'm not a very outgoing or entertaining person, and there aren't a lot of places where I can make new friends as easily as I did in uni debating. It was different from high school (I went to a selective school and the people I socialized with back then were fellow selective school/private school students which makes me cringe now), where most people exist in a vacuum of perspectives, cliques and judgements. In debating, I found people who were more like me and made me more like them (although there are a lot of private school students, they tend to be much more open-minded). It's a world you can belong in (I haven't even gone to any international competitions yet).

Quote from: heids
Cramming worked to achieve perfectly okay, if not brilliant, marks, and that frees up more time to spend on things more important to you than seemingly pointless study (e.g. friendships, volunteering and self-directed learning).

And further to that, why not stay fit at the same time? Iíve personally never been involved in a uni sporting team Ė one of many regrets (although, to be fair, injuries did impact this one) Ė but Iíve heard nothing but good things. Spectroscopy provides a really great perspective:

Quote from: spectroscopy
on the sport side of things competing at events like the southern university games or australian university games is quite possibly the funnest week anyone could have in their life but people dont know about it or how easy it is to get on teams. half of the teams at most uni's fold because they dont have the numbers and its really not hard to go and learn to play something and have a laugh and become a national-level athlete   LOL also its a good way to meet people and stay fit by getting involved in sport. alot of the people who ive met at uni have had entire new social groups created by being a member of a team of something

For what itís worth, you can find out more about UniGames here and here.

And other opportunities are always rife:

Quote from: spectroscopy
melbourne uni has 0 interest loans with very little questions asked for up to $1000 and you can get up to $5000 if you have a guarantor. a girl i know got into some amazing study program overseas for 6 months but she couldn't afford it and wasnt good enough for a scholarship so the uni have her a loan and they arranged so she can pay it back after she graduates when she starts working full time. i myself have gotten one and its pretty easy and most unis offer that sort of thing


Honestly, seek and ye shall find in terms of opportunities at uni. As an aside, Iíd totally recommend going on exchange. Read more here: Studying abroad, student exchange: what, why, how. This can be a really great way to develop as both a person and a student. My own experience wasnít outstanding socially, but I still made some really, really good friends, and would 100% do it again. Iíve never met anybody who has regretted it.


Part 4 || Coping: adjustment, mental health, transition and stuff

Spoiler
Quote from: RuiAce
Don't do what I did - stress the fuck out of yourself for not keeping up with workload   (this was at the start)

This made me giggle, but I fundamentally agree. Indeed:

Quote from: Specter
One piece of advice i can recommend is to not burn yourself out in the first semester, just chill. First sem is to work things out, to figure out what works and doesnt for you. The second sem is where you can start grinding for the marks you want.

Uni can be really hard to start with, and even though it probably wonít feel like it, pretty much everybody around you will be making those same adjustments. If you continually get lost in your first semester (I still have no idea where places on campus are haha), forget to submit an assignment on time or feel sort of isolated socially, thatís okay Ė youíre most certainly not alone.

In terms of comfort on campus and comfort with the system, Iíd be very surprised if it didnít improve over time, and you sort of learn how to make it work:

Quote from: Specter
At first a little hard since it was 5 hours of travel per day. Working wise no problemo amigo since uni was 3 days and i worked the other two. Did my work during the train rides so my weekends were usually free.

Of course, thatís not a huge consolation initially, so itís really important to have people with whom you can talk/vent/look at pictures of kittens to wind down. Overall, the changes may not be all bad:

Quote from: AngelWings
It feels like a bigger step up from VCE/HSC/ whatever equivalent you likely did to get into uni. Sure, it gets difficult, but it also means you're definitely learning something.

As always, Iíll be more aware here of programs at Monash, and particularly those relevant to the Faculty of Arts, but Iím sure others will be able to fill in the gaps. I believe most universities are absolutely aware of this transition period and the changes involved, and theyíll try to help where they can. You may be interested in joining specific transition programs, which can be very helpful.

Monash Arts, for example, is well and truly committed to making this as easy as possible. Many universities also offer counselling services, often free: see, for example, the University of Melbourne, Monash University, Deakin University, University of Technology Sydney, the University of Sydney, and the University of New South Wales.

Otherwise, if youíre struggling, please tell somebody. Anybody. Other resources that may be of interest are BeyondBlue and Headspace.

Quote from: heids
But mainly I regret not admitting to myself that my mental health was seriously terrible and I needed to get support far earlier.

Quote from: appleandbee
I don't have a family (and never did). (being serious) This (and a whole bunch of other experiences that I've bottled up for the last 18 years) has affected my studies, social interactions and general wellbeing such that I have just started addressing them with a psychologist.

I didn't have a great balance, as I didn't engage with my studies as much as I would have liked (and basically did my assignments and studied when I really had to). As for my other committments like work (I work about 2 nights a week), debating, rowing, contemporary dance, music and volunteering, I just make an effort to fit them in. The way I see it is if something is really worth the time, it is possible to fit it in and organise studying around those commitments (except I never really did that).


Part 5 || Expectations: perspective, reality, stereotypes and stuff

Spoiler
Okay, to start off, Iím going to quote a big olí slab of text from Elyse, because I really love it:

Quote from: elysepopplewell
I think the most significant way to ensure that your time at Uni is experienced most positively, is to have a really strong sense of purpose. Purpose is elusive, it changes. And at times it will be hard to pin point, but the effort to introspectively identify it is key. Constantly reflecting on why you are doing what you do is so important for maintaining a sustainable University experience. This could be about your degree - are you studying something for you, to grow and to learn in a personal and/or professional sphere? Or, are you studying a particular course to bow into approval of others? The former is the most sustainable purpose for tertiary studies. Similarly, understanding your purpose within a broader society is something that a lot of University students evolve with as your identity shrinks to little fish in a big pond, at least temporarily. What do you contribute? University isn't purely about academia, but also an experience of reflecting on identity, forthrightly or subconsciously. Purpose may be ephemeral or concrete. Nonetheless, recognising it is essential for optimising opportunities, enjoying tertiary studies, and forming an identity as a young adult.

Spot on, I reckon! Iím not sure how much I would have enjoyed uni if I didnít see the point of it. Largely, I think this comes down to degree choice. Had I started a Bachelor of Business or something, in which I have limited interest, I donít think I would have been able to get through it. Instead, I went with my gut and pursued my interests, and have been much better off for it. (And a sneaky plug: you can read about studying Arts at Monash here.

Quote from: AngelWings
I think I got things right in second semester. I chose units I loved and had a better background with. I had a decent balance between them. I really regret pushing myself into doing something I knew I was going to hate (*cough* that one unit in FY first semester).

At the end of the day, uni is absolutely not for everybody, and a number of people on this forum will tell you that. At the moment, I think itís sort of the default path to take; you finish school, you go to uni, you get a job. My own view is that this is changing, and more and more people will end up bypassing uni altogether. But if youíre going to do it (for clarity, Iím totally glad I did and would do it again), I donít see why you wouldnít try to milk it for all its worth Ė and Iím definitely not talking about the academic elements, here.

A big part of this is not expecting too much of yourself. If you expect to go into uni, make 100 friends on your first day, and go to parties every night Ė all the whilst getting HDs Ė youíre going to be disappointed. And academically, it might be difficult to adjust:

Quote from: Specter
The people who are reading this are probably top notch vce students. Some of you might not experience getting above 80% for a while. Dont beat yourself down. My first sem average was 73%. The lowest mark i got since year 10. I figured things out, studied efficiently, this sem, without including my exams is above 80.

Quote from: Aaron
I think as well - if you have the perception that uni is just parties and you think you're going to just breeze through it... you are sadly mistakenÖ Don't think you'll just breeze through uni without putting in the hard yards. You will not get a HD automatically - REGARDLESS of if you got a 90+ ATAR in high school. Remember that employers look at both marks and experience (e.g. industry projects/IBL for engineering and practical disciplines). P's get degrees, but HD's get jobs (very important to get a balance between study/life right).

Quote from: mahler004
It's also worth pointing out that university marks tend to be scaled differently. It's hard to get over 80 (H1 range), harder to get mid-80s, and extremely hard to get 90+. People who get those scores (90+) are - literally - at the top of their courses. If you can get those scores, great, but don't worry if you can't.

There's also not a 'higher authority' akin to VCAA. In most courses, it's the course coordinator who has the final say, with oversight from the department. The final distribution of grades can thus differ, as can the application of curving, scaling, etc. In my experience, science courses generally scale up or don't scale at all.

Also, the scores posted in the results thread aren't representative of the broader student population. Most people get in the 70s range, and rarely see a score over 80.

Quote from: heids
In some way or another, it won't be like you expect.  For me, I'd always heard people talking about the shock of having to 'grow up'.  I found it the other way round; it was so... far below the way I'd been coordinating my life in the gap year before.  Not to boast about myself, but it felt pitched way below my level.

But for you - it could be totally different, or totally the opposite.  Just expect that you'll find some elements difficult to adjust to because they're different from what your life's been like before, and ride with that.  It's hard.

Also, it's okay to decide that uni isn't for you.  I'm happy with my decision to drop out, and it's firmly based in the direction I want to go in life.

If you go in with an open mind but, as Elyse notes, a clear understanding of why youíre there, uni can be absolutely wonderful, and I certainly hope it is for anybody reading this post!

To finish, hereís some general and varied advice that didnít quite fit into the above categories (but is still very useful!):

Spoiler
Quote from: Aaron
Cramming and trying to maintain your super-crazy expectations and demands from high school is just not possible. Marking systems are way different to VCE, so it's important when you step into uni you realise that your marks will most likely "drop" (this isn't necessarily a bad thing).

Quote from: Aaron
Ask, ask, ask. Tutors are employed to help you, at ridiculous rates might I add. Shoot them an email, or ask them your assignment related questions. One regret I made was that I had too much pride to open up and ask for help. Don't be like me - ask for help. It will only benefit you in the long run.

Quote from: Aaron
I often ask myself the benefit of going to lectures. Whilst I hated going to lectures because they weren't compulsory and were recorded - I felt like I had zero motivation to voluntarily go and watch them on the recording service. If you have nothing better to do and aren't inconvenienced by it, go to them. Even if you just write down a few points, at least you were physically there and didn't have your usual distractions.

Quote from: Specter
Also, textbooks are a scam. Ive bought 8 this year, and havent opened one.

Quote from: Specter
Also, if you go to monash, dont use the monash free wifi, theres something called eduroam, you can log in there with your deets. I just found now after a year of shitty wifi.

Quote from: IndefatigableLover
I took up a lot of volunteering/extra-curricular activities during high school so coming to university was really strange because I wasn't doing anything but I can definitely say it is a lot heavier than high school. High school you're taught discipline and following a study design whereas university workload is a different ball game but if you're organised then it is doable.

Quote from: IndefatigableLover
Balance is key regardless of degree otherwise you'll burn out. I just kept up with a routine and stuck to it despite disruptions (and boy were there plenty :P ). Project out any assignments you have in the future and start them early so you don't fall behind. But on the flipside, uni's all about having fun as well and I can definitely say I skipped some lectures to have fun elsewhere LOL but always remembered to catch up on work afterwards).

Quote from: IndefatigableLover
Structure your timetable with as little breaks as possible LOL (for Monash, auto-clashing in Allocate+ does work, have been given best timetable twice this year). First few weeks don't bring food to uni (there'll be a BBQ every day for first few weeks of uni next year).

Quote from: AngelWings
The thing you're meant to do is timetable and/or organise everything, block off time to study and do other commitments. Tip: always make sure you have some time to catch up.

Quote from: AngelWings
Tip for future students:
1. Don't play the 'it'll be fine' card when you know in the back of your mind that it's not going to be. That goes for anything, whether it's mental health, academia, study/life balance or just life in general.
2. Ask questions and approach others (nicely, of course). You're there to learn.
3. Take some time to walk around campus when you get the chance before you start.

Quote from: EulerFan101
Seriously though, I found work near uni so I could fit that in-between classes, and university has lots of volunteering opportunities for you to sink your teeth into. If you're not studying stupid science subjects like me, though (why does chemistry have 7 contact hours ;___;), you'll often find you have plenty of time to not be around uni, and so don't have to adapt everything near uni like I did. Ngl, though, uni became so much more enjoyable when I had these opportunities to get me through the week. Nothing like having a bad lab from 2-6, to then getting drunk at a trivia night just an hour afterwards.

Quote from: EulerFan101
I excelled in adjusting to university life and the university mindset - my main regret is never taking in my own lunch. The cafes and food joints around Monash are just so enticing, my poor little wallet weeps...

Quote from: EulerFan101
Don't fight against the current, swim along it. Life will be much more enjoyable that way.

Quote from: mahler004
As for the social side - I moved interstate for uni, so this didn't apply to me, but a lot of people I know that stayed in my hometown basically kept the same friends they had in high school, and are happy with that.

Quote from: EEEEEEP
- Leech notes off friends
- Make connections to get past papers and secret questions
- Stay good "friends" with people who get good jobs so that they might be able to get you a job / tell you about opportunities
- Be polite and nice to academic staff. If there are difficulties in meeting deadlines, they will be more likely to give you an extension.

Quote from: appleandbee
University- wise: I am reasonably involved in uni debating (weekly training and debates, internal and external competitions and the occasional schools coaching) and Model UN. I have found uni debating in particular to be extremely enjoyable and beneficial in futhering my critical thinking skills, knowledge on a wide range of topics and desire for an intellectual challenge (I didn't do very much debating in high school, so it's definitely possible to pick it up in uni). In the future, I am also looking to get involved in economics society, mentoring, microfinance and social enterprise consulting, uni magazine as well as neuroscience/psychology/physics/economics research assistant positions.

I chose my extra-curriculars in the basis that it would be difficult to participate in those things outside of uni and a reasonably high level of commitment was required in order to yield the benefits

Quote from: appleandbee
Things that I did well:
- Got involved uni debating despite reservations about the difficulty, competitiveness and the people
- Chose to socialized with different people rather than the ethnically and socially typical selective/private school crowd like in high school
- Learnt a lot about what I care about and what kind of person I liked
- Got more insight into various career pathways and opportunities
- Generally enjoyed my studies

Regrets:

- Engage more with the study material. While learning is definitely possible outside of concrete educational institutions, universities are one of the very few places where you can appreciate the intricacies of scientific experiments/psychological studies, learn advanced economic theory while applying it to real world events and study and discuss philosophical texts in depth (I would contend that these things would be much more difficult to engage with outside of uni).

Quote from: appleandbee
- Universities can really be a place of opportunities if you choose to engage with the various facets such as academic, extracurriculars, careers etc.
- Be aware of important dates like census (last day to drop a subject without having to pay the subject fee), last date to self-enroll, last day to withdraw without fail ( you would still have to pay the subject fee but the subject wouldn't count towards your WAM/GPA)
- Don't be afraid to deviate from original plans/goals. I think the main thing stopping people from changing majors, courses and career plans is the resistance of wanting to achieve what they originally set out to. It's ok to develop new perspectives, interests, priorities and goals in life.

Again, thank you all for contributing. :)

And some course-specific advice:

Arts at Monash University (Joseph41)
BioMed at Monash University (IndefatigableLover)
-Biomed: Everyone is NOT your enemy for post-grad med.Have that mentality and you'll find next three years to be very taxing (embrace it since cohort is very nice and to do well you'll need a great group of people to carry you forth via group study etc.). For Monash anyway, PASS is helpful so sign up to it if you can (places run out like in 10-30min so be quick)!

More on this from AngelWings
Quote from: AngelWings
Actually, PASS is available in several disciplines. You should check to see if it is available for the units you're taking,
There are also versions of PASS at other unis, with one certainly being at Deakin. (A friend confirmed this.)
Commerce at Monash University (IndefatigableLover)
-Commerce: There's a crap load of people doing Commerce so grades won't just cut it for you so you've got to push forth with things that will differentiate yourself from others whether it be clubs, work, volunteering - these small things will help in many different ways. Work on your interview technique and build up your EQ and you'll be fine (side note but you do not have to pay for a networking session - haven't been to one but those are not worth since actual companies will run their own if you look properly and if they don't then you can win your way through like UBS IB Challenge).
Units with labs (AngelWings)
For any lab-requiring units (Science/ Biomed/ Eng./ Med/ etc.), I would highly suggest being very on top of the topic being tested on. There are almost no experiments in which you will do without some form of assessment. Prepare well for it and make sure that any assessment dates are thoroughly checked, especially quizzes. They will close and it's harder to convince your TAs (basically lab teachers) that you missed it for a good reason; 'forgetting' usually isn't good enough. The same goes for questions you're meant to do beforehand; it can result in deducted marks and yes, they will check. Also, don't feel afraid to ask questions; people are there for a reason.
Science/BioMed (mahler004)
Also, if you're a science/biomed student, and especially if you're planning on doing a research-heavy postgrad (MSc, Hons, etc) research experience. There, I bolded it, it's so important. It'll impress your potential future supervisor when it comes time to apply, and it'll mean that you can hit the ground running much more quickly (gets the difficult process of acclimatising to a lab over with). When it comes time to apply for a job, it'll also look very good. There are a couple of ways to get this - via organised programs such as UROP, or through research-project subjects in third year. Indeed, the point of Honours/Masters is to get research experience, but if you can get it during your undergraduate degree, you'll be much better placed.

I hope at least somebody has found this of at least some benefit. Please feel free to add your own contributions/thoughts/perspectives/disagreements/whatever else. And for those who arenít yet at uni, please feel free to ask questions! ;D

For stuff on how uni actually works, I reiterate, read this excellent thread: How university works.

All the very best! :)
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 10:15:55 am by Joseph41 »
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Joseph41

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2016, 12:19:21 pm »
+1
If you're currently or have previously been at uni and would like to contribute to this thread, here are some guiding questions you may wish to answer:

1. Did you find it difficult to make friends? How did you go about doing so?
2. How did you find the workload compared with high school?
3. Did you partake in extracurricular activities? If so, did you find these beneficial?
4. How did you balance uni with working, volunteering, family, and other commitments?
5. What did you do well in your first year? Do you have any regrets?
6. Do you have any other thoughts or advice for first year students?

And I'll try to include your responses in the opening post. :)

If you're not yet at uni, feel free to add to these questions! Because this thread, really, is for you!
« Last Edit: November 22, 2016, 07:10:03 pm by Joseph41 »
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Litigator

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2016, 01:08:17 pm »
+5
1. Did you found it difficult to make friends? How did you go about doing so?

Not at all. If you plan to go to lectures while waiting outside just strike a conversation. If not, dont worry you will get your opportunity once you go inside. The first lecture, trust 99% of everyone in first year will be there. By week 12 that number will probably be around 30%. So chances are in your first lecture, it will be packed which means you will probably be sitting next to someone, talk talk, then next lecture come up and say hi.

Tutorials, is slightly different. Probably not packed, but you will see these people for the next 12 weeks, so try to make friends, at least group discussions will be bearable.

2. How did you found the workload compared with high school?

I did half finance/business units. It reminds me of the workload in Economics VCE.
My other units were arts. This semester i havent gone to a single lecture, done a single reading and gone to only half of my tutes, my average is HD. You might be able to find part time work if you do arts.

I have a friend who is doing Biomed at Monash. He had it very easy in VCE. Currently struggling. Depends on your course.

Workload bar is much like this at a G8 uni: Arts - Commerce - Law/Med. Prepare to work your ass off if you are the end of the bar.

3. Did you partake in extracurricular activities? If so, did you find these beneficial?

None whatsoever. Couldn't be bothered i already participated in extra shit outside of uni.

4. How did you balance uni with working, volunteering, family, and other commitments?

At first a little hard since it was 5 hours of travel per day. Working wise no problemo amigo since uni was 3 days and i worked the other two. Did my work during the train rides so my weekends were usually free.


5. What did you do well in your first year? Do you have any regrets?

I regret going to lectures and doing readings for my arts units.

One piece of advice i can recommend is to not burn yourself out in the first semester, just chill. First sem is to work things out, to figure out what works and doesnt for you. The second sem is where you can start grinding for the marks you want.

Also, textbooks are a scam. Ive bought 8 this year, and havent opened one.

6. Do you have any other thoughts or advice for first year students?

The people who are reading this are probably top notch vce students. Some of you might not experience getting above 80% for a while. Dont beat yourself down. My first sem average was 73%. The lowest mark i got since year 10. I figured things out, studied efficiently, this sem, without including my exams is above 80.

Also, if you go to monash, dont use the monash free wifi, theres something called eduroam, you can log in there with your deets. I just found now after a year of shitty wifi.


vce
monash arts/business
rmit accounting/finance

IndefatigableLover

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2016, 01:19:06 pm »
+5
Great guide guys! I'll try answer a few below :)
1. Did you found it difficult to make friends? How did you go about doing so?
Personally not really. It helps that majority of my school came to the same university as me but I wanted to distance myself away and meet new people which has been an awesome experience through clubs, volunteering as well tutorials/lectures! With tutorials/lectures, I found it's easier to meet people in specialised streams (E.g Biomed) since people actually came to tutorials/lectures and are generally the same age as you whereas generalised streams (E.g Commerce) tend to have a mixture of 1st-4th years in your tutorials/lectures :P
2. How did you found the workload compared with high school?
I took up a lot of volunteering/extra-curricular activities during high school so coming to university was really strange because I wasn't doing anything but I can definitely say it is a lot heavier than high school. High school you're taught discipline and following a study design whereas university workload is a different ball game but if you're organised then it is doable (Joseph41's advice is pretty solid stuff).
3. Did you partake in extracurricular activities? If so, did you find these beneficial?
I found all extracurricular activities I did were beneficial whether it be meeting new people, empowering young students and career progression, it's been really helpful. I won't go into all but for volunteering this year, I was a mentor at Access Monash (which has led me to be involved with Student Recruitment so anybody at Monash COP then I'll see you there), consulting and various uni clubs (interested in Economics then hmu)!!

Side note: I know Joseph41 talked about how he didn't apply Ancora Imparo however if anybody is interested in hearing more about it or my experiences starting next year then feel free to PM me since I'm in the program starting 2017! :)
4. How did you balance uni with working, volunteering, family, and other commitments?
Balance is key regardless of degree otherwise you'll burn out. I just kept up with a routine and stuck to it despite disruptions (and boy were there plenty :P ). Project out any assignments you have in the future and start them early so you don't fall behind. But on the flipside, uni's all about having fun as well and I can definitely say I skipped some lectures to have fun elsewhere LOL but always remembered to catch up on work afterwards).
5. What did you do well in your first year? Do you have any regrets?
Making myself as well-rounded as possible which is important for my Commerce degree since it's very hard to differentiate yourself from everyone imo. I probably would have liked to put more effort into my grades to supplement my extra-curriculars LOL but no regrets with 2016.
6. Do you have any other thoughts or advice for first year students?
Structure your timetable with as little breaks as possible LOL (for Monash, auto-clashing in Allocate+ does work, have been given best timetable twice this year). First few weeks don't bring food to uni (there'll be a BBQ every day for first few weeks of uni next year).

Course specific advice:
-Biomed: Everyone is NOT your enemy for post-grad med.Have that mentality and you'll find next three years to be very taxing (embrace it since cohort is very nice and to do well you'll need a great group of people to carry you forth via group study etc.). For Monash anyway, PASS is helpful so sign up to it if you can (places run out like in 10-30min so be quick)!

-Commerce: There's a crap load of people doing Commerce so grades won't just cut it for you so you've got to push forth with things that will differentiate yourself from others whether it be clubs, work, volunteering - these small things will help in many different ways. Work on your interview technique and build up your EQ and you'll be fine (side note but you do not have to pay for a networking session - haven't been to one but those are not worth since actual companies will run their own if you look properly and if they don't then you can win your way through like UBS IB Challenge).

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2016, 02:26:53 pm »
+1
It seems that most of what i've said has been used in this post so far, so if anyone requires elaboration or anything, feel free to post or send me a PM. Would love to hear other experiences too. Get involved!

- What are your questions? (current year 11-12)
- What are your experiences? (current/past university students)
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Joseph41

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2016, 05:14:38 pm »
0
...

...

Yes! Awesome - thank you so much, Specter and IndefatigableLover. I've added a lot of this to the opening post! I also liked the course-specific advice, so I've added a section for that, if anybody else wants to follow suit. :)

Would love to hear other experiences too. Get involved!

- What are your questions? (current year 11-12)
- What are your experiences? (current/past university students)

Absolutely! I'm really keen for this. Thanks again for your contributions. :)
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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2016, 11:02:38 pm »
+3
Joseph41's questions
1. Did you found it difficult to make friends? How did you go about doing so?
To begin with, yes. It was alleviated a little due to the fact that studying Science, most FY students had at least one lab unit, so I did meet random people who went on to become friends. Most of it was really taking initiative and saying 'hi' (and if you see them a few times, ask to friend them on FB or something) or helping them out with something they didn't understand. Sometimes it was just about teaming up with people who you already knew - my high school friend ended up befriending others and then I ended up as friends with them.
2. How did you found the workload compared with high school?
It feels like a bigger step up from VCE/HSC/ whatever equivalent you likely did to get into uni. Sure, it gets difficult, but it also means you're definitely learning something.
3. Did you partake in extracurricular activities? If so, did you find these beneficial?
Not so much. I did end up joining a few clubs, but never went to their events. 
4. How did you balance uni with working, volunteering, family, and other commitments?
The thing you're meant to do is timetable and/or organise everything, block off time to study and do other commitments. Tip: always make sure you have some time to catch up.
5. What did you do well in your first year? Do you have any regrets?
I think I got things right in second semester. I chose units I loved and had a better background with. I had a decent balance between them. I really regret pushing myself into doing something I knew I was going to hate (*cough* that one unit in FY first semester), but other than that, I don't really regret anything.
6. Do you have any other thoughts or advice for first year students?
Tip for future students:
1. Don't play the 'it'll be fine' card when you know in the back of your mind that it's not going to be. That goes for anything, whether it's mental health, academia, study/life balance or just life in general.
2. Ask questions and approach others (nicely, of course). You're there to learn.
3. Take some time to walk around campus when you get the chance before you start.
PASS
Course specific advice:
-Biomed: Everyone is NOT your enemy for post-grad med.Have that mentality and you'll find next three years to be very taxing (embrace it since cohort is very nice and to do well you'll need a great group of people to carry you forth via group study etc.). For Monash anyway, PASS is helpful so sign up to it if you can (places run out like in 10-30min so be quick)!
Actually, PASS is available in several disciplines. You should check to see if it is available for the units you're taking,
There are also versions of PASS at other unis, with one certainly being at Deakin. (A friend confirmed this.)
Lab requiring units
For any lab-requiring units (Science/ Biomed/ Eng./ Med/ etc.), I would highly suggest being very on top of the topic being tested on. There are almost no experiments in which you will do without some form of assessment. Prepare well for it and make sure that any assessment dates are thoroughly checked, especially quizzes. They will close and it's harder to convince your TAs (basically lab teachers) that you missed it for a good reason; 'forgetting' usually isn't good enough. The same goes for questions you're meant to do beforehand; it can result in deducted marks and yes, they will check. Also, don't feel afraid to ask questions; people are there for a reason.
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Joseph41

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2016, 11:26:44 am »
0
Joseph41's questions
To begin with, yes. It was alleviated a little due to the fact that studying Science, most FY students had at least one lab unit, so I did meet random people who went on to become friends. Most of it was really taking initiative and saying 'hi' (and if you see them a few times, ask to friend them on FB or something) or helping them out with something they didn't understand. Sometimes it was just about teaming up with people who you already knew - my high school friend ended up befriending others and then I ended up as friends with them.It feels like a bigger step up from VCE/HSC/ whatever equivalent you likely did to get into uni. Sure, it gets difficult, but it also means you're definitely learning something.Not so much. I did end up joining a few clubs, but never went to their events.  The thing you're meant to do is timetable and/or organise everything, block off time to study and do other commitments. Tip: always make sure you have some time to catch up.  I think I got things right in second semester. I chose units I loved and had a better background with. I had a decent balance between them. I really regret pushing myself into doing something I knew I was going to hate (*cough* that one unit in FY first semester), but other than that, I don't really regret anything. Tip for future students:
1. Don't play the 'it'll be fine' card when you know in the back of your mind that it's not going to be. That goes for anything, whether it's mental health, academia, study/life balance or just life in general.
2. Ask questions and approach others (nicely, of course). You're there to learn.
3. Take some time to walk around campus when you get the chance before you start.
PASS
Actually, PASS is available in several disciplines. You should check to see if it is available for the units you're taking,
There are also versions of PASS at other unis, with one certainly being at Deakin. (A friend confirmed this.)
Lab requiring units
For any lab-requiring units (Science/ Biomed/ Eng./ Med/ etc.), I would highly suggest being very on top of the topic being tested on. There are almost no experiments in which you will do without some form of assessment. Prepare well for it and make sure that any assessment dates are thoroughly checked, especially quizzes. They will close and it's harder to convince your TAs (basically lab teachers) that you missed it for a good reason; 'forgetting' usually isn't good enough. The same goes for questions you're meant to do beforehand; it can result in deducted marks and yes, they will check. Also, don't feel afraid to ask questions; people are there for a reason.

Right on! Thanks, AngelWings; I've amended the opening post accordingly. :)
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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2016, 11:29:52 pm »
+5
A few thoughts:

Quote
Donít get me wrong, Iím not at all saying that marks donít matter at all Ė because that would be silly, especially in some fields, where good parts are necessary for career advancement. But your grades are but one element of the university experience. The point of this particular section is to make clear (at least from my own perspective) that attending uni isnít primarily about getting good marks. For me, uni is about personal development Ė and good marks can certainly be a result of this. Aaron puts it like this:

A lot of students have the mentality that marks are the end, not a means to an end. 5 years post-graduation, nobody's going to care about your marks in Calculus 1. Once you've got a job or two under your belt, your GPA will become much less important. Your marks are just one aspect - work experience is equally (if not more) valuable - obviously, work experience relevant to your field is about the best thing that you can get. Same for other extracurricular activities. Also look for internships and similar work experience

So, it's worth keeping in mind what you want in the end, and the marks you'll need to get there. It's more important if you're considering postgrad, especially a postgrad with a high GPA requirement (or grad program). Most (but not all) postgrad programs will look on relevant extracurriculars favourably, too. If you're aiming for say, a Masters program, Honours or similar, it's worth remembering the score you'll need through your degree.

I guess it's different to VCE - it's tempting to look at your GPA as a 'university ATAR', while this isn't really the case. It's not as you'll show your transcript to a prospective employer, 'oh you've got a 85 GPA, you can start right away!' - in the way that your 95 ATAR guarantees you entry into a BSc at Melbourne University. You'll need to interview well, and, ideally have some work experience too. University is the best opportunity to build this up - don't become so preoccupied with your GPA that you ignore everything else. It's counterproductive.

Also, if you're a science/biomed student, and especially if you're planning on doing a research-heavy postgrad (MSc, Hons, etc) research experience. There, I bolded it, it's so important. It'll impress your potential future supervisor when it comes time to apply, and it'll mean that you can hit the ground running much more quickly (gets the difficult process of acclimatising to a lab over with). When it comes time to apply for a job, it'll also look very good. There are a couple of ways to get this - via organised programs such as UROP, or through research-project subjects in third year. Indeed, the point of Honours/Masters is to get research experience, but if you can get it during your undergraduate degree, you'll be much better placed.

As for the social side - I moved interstate for uni, so this didn't apply to me, but a lot of people I know that stayed in my hometown basically kept the same friends they had in high school, and are happy with that.

Quote
For some courses, the people you have classes with will probably stay relatively consistent. People can correct me if Iím wrong, here, but for something like undergraduate Medicine, thereís a much greater Ďcohortí feel than in something like Arts, where you may very well never see or hear from people in a particular unit again.

Agreed - the first few years of my degrees, all my courses had 1000+ people, so making friends was hard (you'd make friends in a prac, and never see them after the end of the semester.) Became easier in third year and beyond, as the classes are small enough, and you generally have classes with the same group of people.

Quote
The people who are reading this are probably top notch vce students. Some of you might not experience getting above 80% for a while. Dont beat yourself down. My first sem average was 73%. The lowest mark i got since year 10. I figured things out, studied efficiently, this sem, without including my exams is above 80.

It's also worth pointing out that university marks tend to be scaled differently. It's hard to get over 80 (H1 range), harder to get mid-80s, and extremely hard to get 90+. People who get those scores (90+) are - literally - at the top of their courses. If you can get those scores, great, but don't worry if you can't.

There's also not a 'higher authority' akin to VCAA. In most courses, it's the course coordinator who has the final say, with oversight from the department. The final distribution of grades can thus differ, as can the application of curving, scaling, etc. In my experience, science courses generally scale up or don't scale at all.

Also, the scores posted in the results thread aren't representative of the broader student population. Most people get in the 70s range, and rarely see a score over 80.

As you've said in the main thread, getting H1s isn't a cakewalk - you do have to work for them. I definitely worked harder then I did in high school - difference was, I enjoyed the work a whole lot more.
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keltingmeith

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2016, 12:48:26 pm »
+7
1. Did you found it difficult to make friends? How did you go about doing so?

Not really, actually - and this is from someone diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. I found that the university had LOADS of camps and opportunities to make new friends, it's just a matter of putting yourself out there. Even then, if you have subjects with labs (which are VERY compulsory and you should go to), you'll often find you just naturally mingle with everyone, particularly if you put in an effort to get to know them all. If they're doing this subject with you, it's highly likely they have similar interests and/or goals, so you'll probably get along!

Also, clubs. I really don't have to say much more - clubs are social places. Join a club with interests you have. Other people will have those interests. You will make friends, whether you like it or not.


2. How did you found the workload compared with high school?

I found it much easier, although I know it's not the general trend. High school was all about practice questions after practice questions, and I personally found this boring and tedious, and you'd usually bash the same principle to death over a couple of weeks. In university, you usually spend 1 hour MAX on a principle, and only see it again if it's useful for other ideas. In this way, I often did a lot more work, yes - however, it didn't feel like work. It was fun, and enjoyable, and I didn't have to beat this damn concept to death with practice questions, because at university they don't try to fuck you over like VCAA does - they just want you to learn something.


3. Did you partake in extracurricular activities? If so, did you find these beneficial?

Oh GOD yes. I got involved with so many clubs - and like many people, I went to almost none of them. However, there were a few that I kept up with - the board games society, who I go to every few weeks, which I find is a great opportunity to just sit down and relax and play some really fun games. There's also my own course club (which I eventually became president of, olol), where I met most of my closest friends at uni. So many benefits, and it cost barely anything with the nice, little MSA card.


4. How did you balance uni with working, volunteering, family, and other commitments?

By making my uni my working, volunteering, and family <3 (sorta not joking - mum has some medical issues and so ends up going to sleep reallllllly early. I barely see her anymore because when I'm home she's sleeping)

Seriously though, I found work near uni so I could fit that in-between classes, and university has lots of volunteering opportunities for you to sink your teeth into. If you're not studying stupid science subjects like me, though (why does chemistry have 7 contact hours ;___;), you'll often find you have plenty of time to not be around uni, and so don't have to adapt everything near uni like I did. Ngl, though, uni became so much more enjoyable when I had these opportunities to get me through the week. Nothing like having a bad lab from 2-6, to then getting drunk at a trivia night just an hour afterwards.


5. What did you do well in your first year? Do you have any regrets?

I excelled in adjusting to university life and the university mindset - my main regret is never taking in my own lunch. The cafes and food joints around Monash are just so enticing, my poor little wallet weeps...


6. Do you have any other thoughts or advice for first year students?

Don't fight against the current, swim along it. Life will be much more enjoyable that way.
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Joseph41

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2016, 01:21:52 pm »
0
^Brilliant post, Euler! Thank you. A very firm +1 from me.

The opening post has been suitably amended. :)
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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2016, 03:03:13 pm »
+4
Disclaimer: this probably says everything opposite to what I should say, and I only spent a semester at uni.  But I figured I'd offer a different perspective.

1. Did you found it difficult to make friends? How did you go about doing so?

I actually found it really easy to make acquaintances in tutes; I just chatted randomly and casually to anyone near me, made sure I remembered everyone's names, appeared interested in them and their lives, etc.  But no real friends.  My fault for spending the bare minimum time possible at uni, but also... I just found no one like me.  Probably would have changed if I went through more years at uni and gave it a better chance.

2. How did you found the workload compared with high school?

Easier.  My weekly time spent on uni (contact hours + study/assignments) was probably about 25% of what I did in VCE, due to my course and my attitude.

3. Did you partake in extracurricular activities? If so, did you find these beneficial?

None.

4. How did you balance uni with working, volunteering, family, and other commitments?

I failed to lol.

I was working 20 hours/week minimum, which would've been fine if I wasn't spending most of my non-working hours staring at walls and crying. :P 
Basically, I spent all my energy on trying to perform well at work despite the fact that I was quite ill; uni and family became like little 'side projects' in life.

5. What did you do well in your first year? Do you have any regrets?

Did well: Pretty good efficiency in terms of time spent : marks achieved.  I attended no lectures except week 1, listened to no recordings, skimmed anything required for tutes in the ten minutes before the tute, and read no lecture slides/notes until absolutely required just before an assignment or exam.  Cramming worked to achieve perfectly okay, if not brilliant, marks, and that frees up more time to spend on things more important to you than seemingly pointless study (e.g. friendships, volunteering and self-directed learning).

Regrets: almost every moment I spent at uni or on uni work :P (or a regret for not having a better attitude to it). But mainly I regret not admitting to myself that my mental health was seriously terrible and I needed to get support far earlier.

6. Do you have any other thoughts or advice for first year students?

In some way or another, it won't be like you expect.  For me, I'd always heard people talking about the shock of having to 'grow up'.  I found it the other way round; it was so... far below the way I'd been coordinating my life in the gap year before.  Not to boast about myself, but it felt pitched way below my level.

But for you - it could be totally different, or totally the opposite.  Just expect that you'll find some elements difficult to adjust to because they're different from what your life's been like before, and ride with that.  It's hard.

Also, it's okay to decide that uni isn't for you.  I'm happy with my decision to drop out, and it's firmly based in the direction I want to go in life.
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EEEEEEP

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2016, 04:21:59 pm »
+4
1. Did you find it difficult to make friends? How did you go about doing so?
It is difficult to make friends. Friends often are busy, or have different schedules.

With every passing semester, timetables change, job  schedules do too. That makes it hard to stay in contact / hang out and then it sorta falls apart.

2. How did you find the workload compared with high school?
It is about half the amount of work required compared to HS. (30- 33 hours at HS , compared to 15 at uni).

3. Did you partake in extracurricular activities? If so, did you find these beneficial?
Yep. Piano playing, photography. It was quite relaxing =)

4. How did you balance uni with working, volunteering, family, and other commitments?
YOu can't. You need to make sacrifices. It's a fact of life, you can't have it all.


If you want a good social life, you need to sacrifice grades or some work.  etc. I have rarely found anyone that has been able to balance all 3.

5. What did you do well in your first year? Do you have any regrets?
Procrastinate (which is also my major regret). I could have made more productive use of time, rather than killing it on the internet.

6. Do you have any other thoughts or advice for first year students?
- Leech notes off friends
- Make connections to get past papers and secret questions
- Stay good "friends" with people who get good jobs so that they might be able to get you a job / tell you about opportunities
- Be polite and nice to academic staff. If there are difficulties in meeting deadlines, they will be more likely to give you an extension.

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2016, 06:43:03 pm »
+1
6. Do you have any other thoughts or advice for first year students?
- Leech notes off friends
- Make connections to get past papers and secret questions
- Stay good "friends" with people who get good jobs so that they might be able to get you a job / tell you about opportunities
- Be polite and nice to academic staff. If there are difficulties in meeting deadlines, they will be more likely to give you an extension.

And the true EEEEEEP, EEEEEEP the networker, EEEEEEP the social capitalist, EEEEEEP the manipulator, appears.

But can confirm the value of treating staff better than you need to.  Answer questions in tutes, ask them to elaborate on things they mentioned, show interest in their non-uni life, compliment them on something (e.g. sense of humour or sharing a personal real-life story), send them a thank you note.  The way my lecturers/tutors responded showed that they're not used to being complimented or seen as 'real people' by students and it means a lot.

Yeah, I guess it's sucking up loooool, but a) they're more likely to look out for you if something happens (personal experience here), and b) it's just hella fun to make someone's day ;)
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appleandbee

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Re: Making the most of university [GUIDE/DISCUSSION]
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2016, 08:19:25 pm »
+8
Did you find it difficult to make friends? How did you go about doing so?

Not really, although making close friends is difficult and requires effort and time. Most of my friends are from uni debating (I also have friends in debating societies in other universities). I'm not a very outgoing or entertaining person, and there aren't a lot of places where I can make new friends as easily as I did in uni debating. It was different from high school (I went to a selective school and the people I socialized with back then were fellow selective school/private school students which makes me cringe now), where most people exist in a vacuum of perspectives, cliques and judgements. In debating, I found people who were more like me and made me more like them (although there are a lot of private school students, they tend to be much more open-minded). It's a world you can belong in (I haven't even gone to any international competitions yet).

Tutes are also a great place to make new friends, but I haven't engaged in tutorials as much as I would have liked, so I can't comment on the experience.

How did you find the workload compared to high school?

Much easier even though I didn't really put maximum effort into VCE. If I truly engaged with the study material rather that doing the bare minimum for a high distinction/H1, it would require more effort and time (I plan to do so in the future).

Did you partake in extracurricular activities? If so, did you find them beneficial?

University- wise: I am reasonably involved in uni debating (weekly training and debates, internal and external competitions and the occasional schools coaching) and Model UN. I have found uni debating in particular to be extremely enjoyable and beneficial in futhering my critical thinking skills, knowledge on a wide range of topics and desire for an intellectual challenge (I didn't do very much debating in high school, so it's definitely possible to pick it up in uni). In the future, I am also looking to get involved in economics society, mentoring, microfinance and social enterprise consulting, uni magazine as well as neuroscience/psychology/physics/economics research assistant positions.

I chose my extra-curriculars in the basis that it would be difficult to participate in those things outside of uni and a reasonably high level of commitment was required in order to yield the benefits

How did you balance uni with working, volunteering, family and other commitments?

I don't have a family (and never did). (being serious) This (and a whole bunch of other experiences that I've bottled up for the last 18 years) has affected my studies, social interactions and general wellbeing such that I have just started addressing them with a psychologist.

I didn't have a great balance, as I didn't engage with my studies as much as I would have liked (and basically did my assignments and studied when I really had to). As for my other committments like work (I work about 2 nights a week), debating, rowing, contemporary dance, music and volunteering, I just make an effort to fit them in. The way I see it is if something is really worth the time, it is possible to fit it in and organise studying around those commitments (except I never really did that).

what did you do well in your first year? Do you have any regrets?

Things that I did well:
- Got involved uni debating despite reservations about the difficulty, competitiveness and the people
- Chose to socialized with different people rather than the ethnically and socially typical selective/private school crowd like in high school
- Learnt a lot about what I care about and what kind of person I liked
- Got more insight into various career pathways and opportunities
- Generally enjoyed my studies

Regrets:

- Engage more with the study material. While learning is definitely possible outside of concrete educational institutions, universities are one of the very few places where you can appreciate the intricacies of scientific experiments/psychological studies, learn advanced economic theory while applying it to real world events and study and discuss philosophical texts in depth (I would contend that these things would be much more difficult to engage with outside of uni).

Other advice

- Universities can really be a place of opportunities if you choose to engage with the various facets such as academic, extracurriculars, careers etc.
- Be aware of important dates like census (last day to drop a subject without having to pay the subject fee), last date to self-enroll, last day to withdraw without fail ( you would still have to pay the subject fee but the subject wouldn't count towards your WAM/GPA)
- Don't be afraid to deviate from original plans/goals. I think the main thing stopping people from changing majors, courses and career plans is the resistance of wanting to achieve what they originally set out to. It's ok to develop new perspectives, interests, priorities and goals in life.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2016, 10:50:15 pm by appleandbee »
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