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2023: Vol. 1  •  27 February 2023  •  Student News

What we wish we knew in first year

By Gökçe Çaliskan and Ayesha Baig
What we wish we knew in first year

To the new students of 2023, welcome to UTS! The first year of university is a unique experience for all students, but there are certain experiences that every tense and anxious first year has. From the sacrifices you’ve made to be accepted into your course to the horrifyingly complex process of enrolling into your units, your first year is most definitely chaotic (in the best way). As former first year students, here are some things we wish we knew:


You get to learn more about yourself

There is a type of workload that no one warns you of — the emotional type. It takes work to realise that entering university is a new chapter of your life, and your normal is redefined. Do your best to figure out where your priorities lie, what makes you happy, and let that guide you through your year.

You’ve got to stop setting impossible standards

Divorce yourself from expectations that exhaust you – make room for personal growth. If you feel a little nervous in your first few classes, chances are everyone else feels kind of nervous too. Change is inevitable and often causes stress, but that doesn’t mean you are any less capable. Understanding this can ease taking that first step to introducing yourself to a fellow student.

Last year was my first year as a journalism student. The image of being a student in a university was portrayed in high school to be more challenging than the work we’d encountered in high school. However, what surprised me most was how relaxing university was. Yes, there will always be times when I overthink things, but there was a strong independence given to me that I didn’t find in high school. I believe the 2023 students that are fresh from getting a so-called important number from NESA might have a strong idea about classes, tutes, and so much more. What I took in from my first semester in 2022 was that results are not the be-all-or-end-all. 

Essay writing and referencing is not the same as high school

Academic writing is a key distinction between university and school. Google Scholar becomes your best friend when trying to find academic sources, and it’s important to keep the references of those sources handy whilst researching. If you don’t, you run the risk of, compiling a heap of work for yourself afterwards, between figuring out what source was used for what and how to correctly reference.

The format of essay writing also differs from in high school. It’s important to ask questions if confused, look into previous students’ examples and utilise available resources. The UTS HELPS workshops and website have self-help resources on how to write essays that can bridge any knowledge gaps. Our library website also provides study guides for each faculty, so giving the UTS Library website a visit can be a great starting point to build the mindset needed to nail those assessments.

You might (might? will) get lost, but that’s okay

Getting lost is not as uncommon as we think, and it happens to the best of us. Finding the humour in getting lost, or thinking that walking through the Central tunnel is the world’s most difficult trek is what will make those moments worth it.

Get involved!

The first year is a uniquely intricate experience, and incredible experiences are awaiting you. Be open, join Facebook groups, get involved with any societies that captivate you, and find ways to materialise the memories. BeReal was very popular during my first year, so that could help to capture funny moments, but taking photos, polaroids, or keeping mementos can be a fun way to remember the first year, just as long as you remember to stay in the moment!

Right now, this advice is just words, and you won’t fully understand what they mean until you experience it, but keeping them in mind as you navigate the first year can’t hurt. Good luck first years – we wish you all every kind of success! 


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