O-Week stalls in front of the Quad

An insider's guide to starting uni

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 online second hand book stores such as Student VIP online and Zookal. The Co-Op Bookshop also offer discounts to members and have second hand textbooks for sale.

Find out more about study materials.

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

One of the best parts of the University of Sydney Union's Welcome Festival 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.

You'll need a USU Membership to join clubs and socities, so be sure to sign up ASAP. It's free!

3. Free food is imminent, come hungry

If you play your cards right, you can capitalise on A LOT of free food throughout Welcome Week. 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 Welcome Week, USU 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.

Get started with student IT.

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 Welcome Week 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.

Tips to help you fill an awkward silence.

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 Welcome 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 student support

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).

The USU Rewards 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 Welcome Week maximises the benefits you'll receive.

7 February 2018

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