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The biggest lessons I learned in my first year of uni

By January 16, 2019February 26th, 2021No Comments


The first year of uni, and away from home, is a massive learning experience. Mistakes are made, assignments are left to the last minute and you grow as an individual. It is overwhelming and chaotic but also a lot of fun and filled with fantastic new memories and experiences.

Here are the 5 biggest lessons I learnt, surviving my first year of uni:

  1. Keep on top of everything. You don’t want to be approaching exam week and be three weeks behind in content or not understand key concepts.
  2. It’s okay not to be the best. If you were a high achiever in high school you may feel a lot of pressure to achieve but keep your head down, try hard and stay in your own lane. Your hard work will pay off but don’t compare yourself to others.
  3. It’s okay if you feel like you have no idea what you are doing for the first few weeks (or the whole year) because nearly everyone else feels the exact same. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help and clarity if you need it.
  4. Plan your week out. It may sound silly but without a plan important things can be forgotten or rushed.
  5. Take time out for you. In a society that glorifies being constantly busy, trying to balance uni, work and your social life can be exhausting. Watch a movie, read a book, exercise, take yourself out for lunch. Do something that you enjoy and helps you unwind. Don’t burn yourself out.

Good luck and have fun!


Sophie Nelson is studying a Bachelor of Pre-Medicine, Science and Health at the University of Wollongong. She grew up in Broken Hill, in far west NSW, a whole 1113km away from Wollongong. Sophie is about to start her second year at university, and is a recipient of CEF’s McLean Foundation Scholarship

Read more about Sophie’s experiences here. 


More tips, tricks and advice on how to survive your first year at university in our University Survival Guide

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