Top Tips: First in Family to go to Uni

More than half the students at Western are the first in their family to attend university. This guide is a collection of tips designed to support you throughout your course.

Prepare ahead for study

Time spent in preparation before the teaching session starts, gives you a head start, helps to minimise stress levels and maximise the enjoyment you get from your studies. You can also put these top tips into practice at any time during the year.

Get Organised Early

  • Find out how to get to uni. The Getting to Uni webpage has great information about getting to uni whether you drive or use public transport.

  • Attend Orientation. This will give you a chance to become familiar with your campus before you start attending classes, and to make new friends.

  • Do the pre-session preparation programs. You meet other students and learn so much about how everything works at uni.

  • Get to know the University’s website. It includes everything from enrolment, exam and fee information, to services and facilities, online systems and news and events.
  • Find out what other students think. There are online videos of students talking about their time at uni. They’re great to watch to get an idea of what your journey at university could be like.

  • Give yourself time to work out what you want to do. You may not know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life, but university is a great place to help you figure it out. Don’t get anxious about planning your entire career. Take it one session at a time and speak to Careers.

  • Get organised and stay organised if possible! Take the first step by picking up a free student diary for first year students and making a yearly wall planner to stick up near your study space.

  • Plan your year. Organise and record important dates on your wall planner or diary so you can plan your year more efficiently.

  • Stay on top of deadlines and due dates for your assignments, library books and bills. Be prepared to rearrange your schedule.

  • Investigate what units are available in your course – check the Handbook and make sure you attend My Course Planning. Some courses have core units that are compulsory.

  • Remember and understand what ‘census date’ means. You can only drop units until the census date of each teaching session (you can only add units in the first two weeks of session). After that you’ll still have to pay for the unit and will probably receive a fail/discontinued grade.

Challenges of the First Teaching Session

Everyone feels more or less overwhelmed in the first few months at uni. This is sometimes called the ‘invisible unit’- trying to understand how everything works at uni while, at the same time taking on the academic requirements of your study load.

Some students limit their first teaching session study load to two or three units to give themselves time to settle in.

  • Check your student email account every day – even during your session breaks. It’s the official communication channel between you and the University. Don’t miss emails with important information about things like your enrolment, exams, results and graduation.

  • Keep a filing folder for all university correspondence and keep it in a safe place. Never throw any of the correspondence away even if it seems unimportant at the time – you may need to refer to it at a later date.

  • Try to be on time for everything. Don’t be late for class, assignment deadlines, or returning library books. You could miss out on important information, lose marks or incur hefty library fines if you get into the habit of being late or not turning up.

  • Read (and re-read) your unit outlines and learning guides. These are the ‘road maps’ for each unit. If you get bogged down with an assignment go back to the unit outline and check the ‘learning outcomes’ to give you direction.

  • Learn the ‘jargon’. Check out the glossary of terms which explains important University terms.