Entering university for the first time often feels very intimidating to new students, as a third-year I still remember how intimidating my first lessons felt and how difficult it seemed to find new people.
Now with several years behind my back and as an exec of multiple societies, I think I have some helpful tips to share that I wish I knew when entering UTS for the first time.
Meeting new people
This is probably the most important part of uni survival. As intimidating as this may seem, having friends that are in the same course/faculty as you can help you with preparing for future subjects, having someone to rely on in current subjects (or having reliable group members), and later down the line even having potential career opportunities from friends you've met. Not to mention just generally having people to socialize and have fun with during your years at uni!
This is probably the most important advice I've seen for first years: Most people enter uni thinking that it's 100% learning. But no, it's probably about 30% learning from subjects, 40% independently learning (personal projects, extracurricular activities, etc), and 30% socializing (finding new friends, networking, or just generally enjoying your time!). If you spend 100% of your time just learning, you will likely fall behind in the industry.
Naturally, many people (especially in FEIT hehe) would find meeting new people intimidating, so here are some tips for that.
Joining clubs and societies
If you're reading this, chances are you already are a member of ProgSoc, and maybe several other FEIT societies. Be sure to come to as many social events as you can, look out for smaller events if you find big events intimidating.
Also, if IRL events are intimidating or don't fit your schedule, then several societies have active discord servers where you can meet new people, including societies such as Anime@UTS, Gamers Guild, Playmakers, and many others!
When it comes to socializing, FEIT societies aren't for everyone, and you may enjoy culture societies and clubs more. Or maybe you enjoy both! Personally, I stuck around ProgSoc and Anime@UTS, and now I'm an exec of both. However, I've seen people who stay with many more societies, and several people who are execs of 4 societies or more (sounds stressful haha).
As first years, chances are that many of your classmates are doing the same course as you. You can probably find interesting people just by starting conversations in class. You'll probably find a lot in common!
Contribute to a club
If you feel like a club or society is your home and you enjoy being there quite a lot, then asking execs if you can help with events (or applying for subcom/gencom in the society) can be a great way to meet even more new people. When helping a club, you both gain experience that you can put on a resume later, and you get a chance to meet so many new people that are enjoying the club also!
And if you enjoy helping, it's worth considering becoming an exec of the club near the end of the year. Clubs hold an AGM around October when new execs are elected, and if you're really passionate, I'm sure you'll get in!
The advice in this part is applicable to FEIT classes. I'm not sure about other faculties, so bear with me here.
There are several types of classes to worry about:
These are often the most time consuming classes, however after COVID hit, they are all online and we no longer have to attend them. Personally, I think watching a 2 hour recorded lecture at 2x speed is better than falling asleep in a zoom call for 2 hours, but that's me. Many people still attend lectures in calls, as you have more chances to ask the lecturer questions!
Here, you'll be revising lecture content, and often answering questions. Usually there is less interesting hands-on work and more boring homework questions, except the tutorials will give you a chance to do them in class. These classes are common in theory subjects such as mathematics subjects.
Workshops (Wrk), Labs (Lab), Computer Labs (Cmp)
These three are very similar, I'm not sure what the difference is. They're like tutorials except you have more hands-on work, and you often submit something at the end. For example, programming labs would have you writing pieces of code, business subject workshops would have you do business-related tasks that you have to submit at the end.
These are rare, but they are often a combination of lectures and workshops. You often get more time for group work also.
Starting a new subject
Gloss over the subject outline for each new subject you're joining.
Important: if your subject requires group work, make sure you have at least 1 friend in the same class as you, if not more. If you don't, then it's a coin flip whether you'll have horror stories to tell later about your shit group. Having at least 1 friend with you often motivates the other group members too, and if it doesn't, it still means you won't be stranded alone in a group of 5 (or in my case, I was on grammar duty for 4 other people that barely spoke English, in a business subject).
Oh and also, don't leave things to the last minute :)
though this is probably advice for life in general, not uni
I, along with the rest of the ProgSoc team, wish you luck with your time at uni! Meet new people, learn many new things, find great opportunities, break a leg. And while you're at it, stop by ProgSoc events if you're doing any programming subjects, we'll be interested in meeting you ;)