Back to School – College/University

Since university is about to start or lectures have already begun in my country, I’m gonna talk about some essentials and what you should have prepared before lectures have officially started.

Enrolling

Now you must be wondering what I mean by enrolling, but what you really did was apply for the university that you want to go to and now you’re waiting for your application to be accepted. Confused? Well, you should be because the actual enrollment are the courses that you want to take, so before you begin looking at all the courses you’re interested in, do a bit of research on what you want to eventually end up doing, because there are certain courses that have requirements to have to fulfill in order to be accepted. Such requirements include prerequisites like needing to complete a certain course and you can only enrol in them if you’re taking a certain degree. For example, if you’re doing psychology you would need to complete a stage one paper on statistics in order to complete your degree. In stage two, you obviously need to take certain stage one papers first before you can enrol in them.

So it would be prudent to do your research and look into what courses you need to complete your degree at the bachelor level, and then see if you need to take post-graduate courses to get into the profession that you want. Again using psychology as an example, it branches off into clinical psychology, behavioral psychology and so on, these are generally taken in post-grad, so during your bachelors degree, enrol into courses that are tailored towards what you intend to study in post-grad.

Timetable

Believe it or not, this is the worse part about enrolling. So after you’ve done your bit of research and written down all the courses you want to enrol into, even the general education papers that are required to complete your degree, it’s time to start enrolling into those courses for your first year and adding them into your timetable. Yes, you have to add these courses into your timetable yourself, so you better do this quick because once everyone gets accepted it’s free for all and everyone wants to avoid having clashes to their timetable.

What you don’t know about this part is, it’s not just lectures that you have to enrol in, but you also have labs, tutorials and discussions and these are usually more spread out and lasts for an hour or two. Lectures are more hard to work around because they appear on several days a week and usually start and end at the same hour, so it even though you want to to enrol in some courses, you end up getting a clash with another course because of this timetable madness.

Some tips I would like to give is to check if the courses are available for both semesters and if they have other time allocations during one semester. For example, since statistics is usually packed because the psychology students didn’t know about this requirement or when the freshman don’t have another gen-ed paper to take, they usually have more than one lecture time allocation, like from 9-10 am, then 12 am to 1 pm and 2-3 pm, and they also have the same thing in both semesters as well as summer school. So you have a lot of options and it makes it easier to squeeze in the courses you want to take.

I also recommend drawing out you timetable with all the courses and those extra classes like labs and tutorials, just so you have an idea of how you may want to place all your classes. Just know that you may want to have breaks between lectures and tutorials because they do have tests during those tutorials and assignments are usually due at the beginning of those, unless specified otherwise. Lectures usually start 5 minutes after the allocated time and they finish 5 minutes before the hour, so you get about 10 minutes of break, or time to get to the next lecture without being late.

Calendar

After you’ve enrolled into hopefully all the courses that you want, you’d want to link this to your calendar. If your university has an app or student email, you should be able to link it directly to your calendar from there, or you’d have to do it manually on google calendars, which is therapeutic or drives you completely insane. Either way, you’d want to do it because it you can then link that to your phones’ calendar and you’d never miss a class. You can also put in your lecture hall or wherever you’r class will take place, so you won’t be lost. Now let’s finally get on to the essentials.

College/University Essentials

I’ll keep this gender neutral and talk through the things that I personally find very useful for college and give you some tips here and there for what you should have done before lectures and maybe should have gotten used to by the first month. These items should be in a sturdy bag or on your person, locker or car. Bring whatever that you need for the day, keep the rest at home.

Student ID

This is the most crucial thing that you need because without it you can’t get into exams and the only way you can print anything or take out library books is with this card. So get it no matter what, it’s not optional.

Smartphone

No, this is not an excuse to get your parents to buy you one because you have no idea how this makes your life in university so much easier. Aside from linking your timetable to your calendar, another important aspect of having a phone with you is the amount of emails you receive in a day from all your lectures telling you what topic you’d be discussing and what writing piece you’d be expected to write and hand in for your tutorials, which are not optional at all. They like assign last minute readings a day before lectures and you usually don’t have that kind of time, aside from during your train ride or breaks between lectures. It also doesn’t help if you don’t bring a laptop or when computer labs are filled. So get you a smartphone, it makes uni life easier.

Bring your earphones too, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.

Transport Card

I don’t know about your country, but with mine it’s cheaper to have a transport card that you can use for both trains and buses. It usually costs more to use cash, there’s a discount to using transport cards and there’s also a tertiary student concession which is even cheaper, so it’ll help with travel expenses.

Try to look up the best route or station to stop at and find all the shortcuts that you can when travelling to and from uni, as well as any shortcuts within uni so it makes moving between classes more efficient.

Textbooks

Obviously you can find it cheaper online or go to your university’s Facebook page for cheap secondhand books instead of buying directly from the bookstore, but you have to make sure it’s in clean condition with no markings on it, because believe me there are some people who highlight the entire page and write notes on the edge of the page that repeats exactly what they highlighted. #AllTNoShade Well, maybe just a little haha.

If you’re going to buy it at the university bookstore, you can either order it online, buy the electronic copy if it’s available, or go buy it during Orientation Week, which is a week before lectures. Absolutely avoid buying your books during the first week of lectures because it’s definitely going to be crowded and you’re more than likely to only get a few of the books that you need for the semester. First come first serve.

You should also check with your lecturers if you need to buy the recommended textbooks to see if they are required for any essays, assignments or exam, because that happened to me and I still hold a grudge till this day.

Note Taking

Pen & Paper

Doesn’t matter what it is, you have to bring pen and paper because you’ll be needing it not just for lectures but also during your labs and tutorials. Not to forget that you’ll be doing writing exercises and tests as well, so bring your own pen and paper at all times.

Laptop/Tablet/Surface Pro

I don’t have anything against these, I personally use a Surface myself for note taking sometimes and studying by looking through the slides or doing any readings that are in PDFs. So if you want to bring them, go ahead and do so.

USB

You need this. Not just for keeping documents and lecture slides but I also recommend keeping a copy of your assignments on this because it’s likely you’ll be printing it out on the school computers last minute. If not, I still urge to get one because you’ll never know when you need it.

Portable Charger/Power Bank

You’re gonna be out all day at school and you’d definitely be checking your phone or playing with it, let’s be honest. So it would be wise to either bring your own charger to school, or a power bank. Don’t cheap out on this and go to an actual store to buy one that is good quality.

Pencil Case

Just get one because it’s more organised to have everything in one place. Things I recommend having in your pencil case are as follows:

  • Pens – black, blue and red. 2 of each or more. NEVER use red or green on your exam
  • Pencil – have at least 3.
  • Sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Scissors
  • Mini-stapler
  • USB
  • Small ruler
  • Highlighters
  • Glue stick – optional.
  • Coloring pencils – optional.
  • Keys – It’s a good place to keep them, or in your wallet/bag/person.

You might not need a calculator, unless there’s a course you enrolled in like math.

Wallet

Of course you need your money, student ID, transport card, royalty cards, and keys. If you’re gonna be going home late at night and you’re likely to be walking a bit of a distance, I recommend buying a little light for your keys that are quite bright and can be recharged via USB connection. The one I use is from NITECORE, search tube or thumb in the search bar and choose the one that you like. These are quite bright, especially the thumb series and they can be recharged and attachable to your key-chain. Unfortunately they don’t sell on their website, but I totally recommend it. Try to look for this brand in your local stores or online.

Water Bottle

Stay hydrated at all times. Mix it up and put in fruits and veges if you want. There are drinking fountains so you can refill it. Don’t waste money on water and just get you a good water bottle. Avoid the plastic ones.

Tissues

You never know when you might need one, so just get it. Might want to get some hand sanitizes unless you don’t like them. Optional. But definitely get the tissues.


 

That should be all that you need for university, aside from other personal things like medication, makeup or whatever. This list is just the most basic essentials that I recommend, so if you have anything else you might want to add, leave a comment down below. Like lip balm with SPF 15 by NIVEA.

That’s about all I have to say, so I wish you all the best of luck because you’re gonna need it. Focus on your studies and don’t just try to pass on your first year, it really helps to have good grades during your freshman year because down the road you’re gonna slowly lose the will to open your eyes in the morning. Only then should you be fine with just passing haha. Jokes aside, I hope you have a good year and have some fun along the way. Remember to keep your mental health in check. Talk to you later.

 


 

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