Lesson 1: It’s about staying on top of things

Hello, hello, hello! 

WELCOME to the very first post of my new blog series: The Top 5 Lessons I Have Learnt at University. I am so excited to bring this series to you!

I’m a fourth-year student at La Trobe. And whilst I still make mistakes (like literally, ALL THE TIME), I’ve learnt a lot throughout my past three years at university and they’re lessons I’d love to share

These lessons include things people have told me throughout my time at uni that have stayed with me, things I’ve learnt on my own and knowledge I’ve gained from making mistakes. I hope the things I share do help you in some way, whether it be some words of assurance or even just a study tip. 

I could not be more excited to get started on this series!

Lesson 1: It’s about staying on top of things

A friend once told me “Uni is not about getting ahead. It’s about not letting yourself fall behind. It’s about staying right on top of things”. 

When she said this to me, it seemed fairly obvious. At first I thought “Well duh. Of course, you don’t want to fall behind at uni”. 

As I thought about what she said, I realised how smart it was. Uni isn’t about getting four weeks ahead of the content – that’s just not realistic. It’s about doing the work that you need to do, at the very time you need to do it. It’s about remaining on top of things, so they don’t get away from you. 

Until I reflected on my own habits, I didn’t realise how easily I let myself get behind uni and perhaps you feel that way too. 

Let me give you an example. 

Say you have a lecture for one of your subjects on Monday, but you can’t attend the lecture. Maybe you have work or you’re meeting up with a friend or life just gets in the way. 

You tell yourself “No worries, I’ll watch the lecture later to catch up”. 

Tuesday comes and you have work again or perhaps classes at uni, and you don’t have a chance to watch the lecture. The same thing happens on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Then it’s the weekend and you’re heading away or it’s your best friend’s birthday or your boss calls and asks you to cover a shift on Sunday (we’re students, we need those weekend rates). 

All of a sudden, it’s been a week and you haven’t caught up on the lecture, let alone done your readings or questions for class. You’re now facing a new week with more lectures, more content and more stuff to catch up on. 

When you let one thing slip at uni, it’s easy for everything to snowball and you find yourself in Week 12 stressed out of your brain with four weeks of content to catch up on. 

I found this was happening to me time and time again. My friend’s philosophy to ‘stay right on top of rights’ was something I really tried to implement in Semester 2 of my second year. I found I was far less stressed that semester because I felt so on top of the content. I wasn’t ahead, but I wasn’t behind. Like Goldilocks, I felt like I had gotten it just right.  

So, how did I manage to stay right on top of my content? I set some time limits for myself. Say for example, I did miss a lecture on a Monday morning, I would try and watch it that afternoon or that night. I had a ‘same day’ rule for myself. That is – watch the lecture the same day it was released. If that wasn’t realistic, I aimed to watch it within 24 hours. 

You can also check out the Learning Hub’s Study Smarter section to download a time management planner!

I hope you enjoyed the first lesson in my Top 5 Lessons I Have Learnt at University Series! Keep your eyes peeled for Lesson 2!