A Letter to First-Years: It Gets Better

February 9, 2017
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By Ashley Griffin


If you’re fresh out of high school and you’ve been drop-kicked into adulthood, I’m going to tell you right now: life gets better.

High school sucked. I don’t care who you were; it did. I don’t care if you were one of the people who sat in the library at lunch every day or spent your time in the music room. Whether you went out and got drunk off your ass at every party, or stayed home and binge-watched anime, high school sucked balls.

This is where it gets better, and there’s no reason to be afraid.

If you’ve jumped head-first into your future and gone straight from high school to university, this is your time to shine.

Let me tell you a secret, dear blooming blossoms. University is not like high school.

For one thing, university isn’t like what your teachers told you it would be. Your lecturers and tutors are happy to help you if you ask for help. Most class environments are very chilled out and, in some classes, you’ll be able to eat while you’re learning.

University exams are much less stressful than ATAR exams. Depending on your major, you might not even have an exam for every unit. Some of your assessments might just be multiple-choice quizzes and in most courses, you’ll get marks just for showing up.

Yes, it’s true that you will meet people like you, but you will also meet different kinds of people that you may not have met otherwise. There will be students at university of all ages, from all walks of life, and they can teach you things others can’t. You might share classes with a mother-of-three, or a 40-year-old man who’s come back to uni to learn to play guitar.

If you’re not sure about where you’re going in life and you’re just at university because you didn’t know what else to do, don’t worry. Most people don’t spend their entire lives in a single job, and as you can see from the people around you, students come back to university long, long after they left school. You’re allowed to change your mind.

Don’t stress about being new to university. Instead, look forward to the years to come. Here you will make friends that last you a lifetime, you will learn things that will stay with you forever, and you will have fun.


  • Pay very close attention to the unit plans. Print them out if you can afford the ink to help keep yourself organised.
  • Take one of the free calendars from the co-op shop, hang it up somewhere you can see it, and mark every assessment deadline on it.
  • Buy your textbooks second-hand. If you’re a part of the ECU guild you can use the Guild Boookshop, or Gumtree. This will save you a lot of money.
  • Most classes are quite chilled where you’ll be able to work while being social, but be diligent. You shouldn’t waste your time doing nothing in class, or you’ll end up stressing about it later.
  • Use the time with your lecturers, tutors and your fellow students to get help when they’re there to help you. Your lecturers and tutors are happy to help you and answer any questions you have, but you have to actually ask them. Try to get everything done early so that you can take in your work and have them look at it. This will do absolute wonders, I promise you.
  • Try not to undertake online classes if you have little self-control or bad time management skills. You will put off the work, thinking to yourself that you can do it whenever you want, and you will end up falling weeks behind. I learned this the hard way. If you decide to do an online course, set an exact time every week that will do the work and stick to it. I am deadly serious.


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