Surviving First Year 101: What We Wish We Knew When We First Started at Deakin

Written by Sini Salatas.

1. Use the resources available to you (we know this one gets repeated a lot—there’s a reason for that!)

Don’t be afraid to use the Disability Resource Centre if you feel like you may have any health conditions that may impact your studies. Getting a Learning Access Plan is relatively easy. It can really improve your time at uni depending on the assistance you need (from making it easier to submit assignments and gain extensions, to sitting your exams in a smaller room). Also, most lecturers/tutors are really friendly and will respond to any questions you have if you shoot them an email! – Holly Ellis, third year Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

Deakin has so many resources, from Peer Mentors to Writing Support, Counselling, Course advisors … My advice would be even if you don’t think you will need it, signing up for things like peer mentoring can really give you some peace of mind that support is there, even if you never use it. – Jess Ali, fourth year Bachelor of Arts

My first year kind of sucked. I had taken two years off after high school and was struggling to get back into a routine that worked for me. My advice would be to use every damn resource Deakin has. I visit Student Central at least once a month to make sure everything is on track. I’m no longer a first year, but I’m still friends with people who were my peer mentors/study buddies who are always happy to help me wrap my head around an assignment. My biggest bit of advice to first years: you’re not alone. We all went through this, and you can always ask for help. – Holly Swain-Harvey, third year Bachelor of Arts

2. Join a club or get involved with DUSA-run events (there’s a club for everyone, even the shy and introverted among us)

If there’s one thing I regret, it’s not keeping up to date with all the cool things DUSA are doing! They frequently run cool short courses and day trips to fun places. They’re generally discounted if you’re a DUSA member, and some are even free! – Holly Ellis, third year Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

Join a Club or Society! The Deakin Writers Club gives students the opportunity for aspiring writers and editors to hang out or even network! – Michael Pallaris, fourth year Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

3. Get organised and use your time wisely (note: this doesn’t mean you have to schedule every minute of every day—find what works best for you)

If you commute to uni, use it to your advantage! Read the readings or listen to audiobooks (sometimes you can download lectures in audio form). You’ll save so much time! – Holly Ellis, third year Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

Use your student diary to note down your to-do lists and deadlines. Having everything organised in one place helps. It’s also easier to keep track of where you are, and it has all the holidays and cool events coming up already mentioned in it. So, you can plan your study around the weeks you want to volunteer or have fun at these events. If you’re like me, the satisfaction of ticking off tasks can be half the motivation to study! – Grishtha Arya, third year Bachelor of Creative Writing

4. Make use of government study tour grants (seriously, the government WILL help fund your overseas study jaunts)

Do an overseas study tour! Even if you are a poor uni student, there is SO MUCH funding that is available to us! Deakin facilitates $3,000 grants from the government that basically everyone gets, and you can pop the rest on your HELP debt if you need to. 
You make so many amazing friends, get to see places in ways you would never see them otherwise, and also have the bonus of a really awesome thing to put on your resume. – Jess Ali, fourth year Bachelor of Arts

5. Lastly—and arguably the most important piece of advice in this article—find some time to relax

Walk around the dog park and chill with the puppies if you’re stressed. The big park under the bridge—I’ve always called it the dog park because everyone local takes their pups there! They also chill with people sitting outside near the cafe down there. Top-notch spot—would recommend. – Izzi Pinnock, second year Bachelor of Arts

University really is a fantastic chance to grow as a person, develop your intellect, and find your tribe. It takes a little confidence and a little getting-outside-of-your-comfort-zone, but it really is worth it to put yourself out there and/or reach out for help when needed. We’ve all been there (really, we have), and we’ve all made it out the other side. So, reach out, have fun, do your readings, and enjoy all that Deakin has to offer. It really is a wonderful place to study, and we’re positive your time at Deakin will be as rad as you are.

Read more of Sini’s work in WORDLY’s Atmosphere edition.

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