Skip to main content
News_

An insider’s guide to starting uni

15 February 2017
Your unofficial checklist for the start of semester

Think you know everything you need to about starting uni? Skim our insider student tips to make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running during your first weeks on campus. 

You’ve probably been flooded with information since accepting your offer to the University of Sydney. How to enrol, subject selection and all that serious stuff is important, but it’s also worth discovering those little life hacks our seasoned students use to make the most of uni life.

1. Avoid the textbook queue and save cash

Order your study notes online and you’ll be cheering when you walk past the giant line at the Copy Centre in week one.

Equal applause is due for those who do some research before buying their textbooks. Check out the second hand book store on campus run by the Students' Representative Council, as well as Student VIP online. The Co-Op Bookshop also offer discounts to members and have second hand textbooks for sale.

2. Don't wait until OWeek to check out the club and society scene

One of the best parts of the University of Sydney Union's OWeek is the sensory overload you get walking through the bazaar of clubs and society stalls on Eastern Avenue.

Be mindful though, some clubs and societies can only allow a certain number of students to join each semester. Get online now to check out all the student clubs and societies as well as all the sports clubs.

Some clubs and societies have small membership fees, but you’ll make this money back through the year with free food and discounted events.

If you do go club-shopping at OWeek, make sure you bring cash and loose change as most student clubs are old school and lack EFTPOS facilities.

3. Free food is imminent, come hungry

If you play your cards right, you can capitalise on A LOT of free food throughout OWeek. There are always plenty of societies throwing BBQs or hosting bake-offs in the name of the new semester. Become familiar with go-to grilling locations like the BBQs atop the squash courts next to Manning House, or the ones under the concrete walkway on Cadigal Green.

At OWeek, USU ACCESS members can go to town on free popcorn, watermelon and more, plus there'll be plenty of promo people roaming the lawns with samples, so don’t be too quick to dismiss someone who flags you down, they might want to offer you a freebie.

NB: don’t question the time of day – you’ll be kicking yourself later if you turn down free popcorn because it seems inappropriate at 9am.

4. Get connected and get organised

Whether it’s to scroll through Facebook, watch cat videos or try and follow a map, there’s a whole host of reasons to get connected to the campus-wide free Wi-Fi as soon as you get your UniKey and save your data.  

While you’re saving money on your phone bill, you’ll free up some funds to make some canny investments to help keep on top of things throughout semester. Get yourself a giant, scribble-on wall calendar or whiteboard to keep track of assignments dates and deadlines – there’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to being organised.

5. Awkward is inevitable

With thousands of new students entering campus each year, remember that pretty much everyone is in the same boat. It can feel a little awkward and making friends can be daunting at first but the sooner you break the ice, the better. Strike up a conversation with some strangers at your faculty welcome and you’ll rip that band-aid off before classes even begin. Friends and familiar faces sorted! Plus, there’s always speed-friending at OWeek if you're into efficiency like that.

Bonus tip: in the first week of tutorials, tutors often run ice-breaking activities. Think of a few fun facts about yourself in advance – likes, dislikes, why you’re studying that course – to save yourself from an awkward brain freeze.

6. Embrace all the help you can get

You might think some information sessions aren’t relevant to you, but guess again, know-it-all. Everyone – even returning students – can benefit from taking a library tour or attending a few how-to sessions. You’re going to be doing a lot of study over the next few years, so you may as well get a head-start now.

And let’s face it, you’ll have more free time at Orientation Week than you will down the track when semester gets busier, so invest your time early. You’ll thank yourself come assessment time. Find out more about info sessions at Orientation Week.

7. Exploit your student status

Around these parts almost every local café and bar has a student discount or lunch special. You can even get cheap movie tickets and other nifty promotional offers, you just have to go out searching for them (hint: King St, Newtown is a good place to start).

Don't forget that USU ACCESS membership doesn't just allow you to join clubs and societies, but you'll receive discounts on food and drinks across campus, and cheaper tickets to events - so signing up at OWeek maximises the benefits you'll receive.