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Starting university: everything you need to know

Starting university. It’s not long now. You made it, you’ve got a place on a course you’re psyched to be studying, and you’re raring to get going. To get your teeth stuck into a subject you’re passionate about. To put your ideas into action. And to explore the full uni experience outside the classroom too – friends, volunteering, clubs. Everything.

Whether you’ll soon be logging on for your first online tutorial and connecting with your classmates around the world – or you’ll be stepping onto campus for the first time, smelling the lemon gums and meeting your new roommates, we know you’re going to grab the opportunity with both hands.

So, we want to help you get ready for that day, so you’re prepped, primed and pretty au fait with what to expect. That’s why we’ve put together all the essential info you need about starting university.

Here’s what we’ll cover.

  • Master life skills
  • Sort your finances
  • Learn to cook
  • Get organised
  • Discover the uni library
  • Get set to smash Orientation

Master life skills

Starting university is, let’s be honest, pretty adult. Whether you’re leaving home to live on campus or taking advantage of the flexibility of online study, you are now in control of your learning. You’re studying something you are passionate about and, heads up, are going to have to be responsible for making the most of it.

Part of stepping into adulthood is getting to grips with life skills that are going to serve you well in your time at university – and beyond.

For instance, creating healthy habits. Sounds simple, but let’s be honest, it’s something we all have to work at. And putting those healthy routines in place early, can have a big impact on your time at uni. Just ask Lucy Pirrie, a Bachelor of Communication student at Charles Sturt.

“Developing effective exercise and sleep patterns is the best way to ensure your productivity. And it helps to keep you in a good mood! Remember to get a good night’s sleep so you can accomplish more the next day.”

Or time management. Useful for study, but also useful for when you start working and even if you choose to have kids.

Check out the top life skills to master before starting uni.

Sort your finances

Dollars and cents. Let’s just call them a necessary part of starting university. It could be your first time making a budget, paying bills or simply opening a bank account. Student finance is definitely something to get a grip on.

We sat down with Rachel Ayton, Student Welfare and Finance Adviser at Charles Sturt University, to chat all things student finance.

“We know that some students might experience a small degree of financial stress during their time at university – but we also know that being prepared can help reduce that stress. It’s important to find out upfront and right at the beginning of study what the costs will be, so you can prepare accordingly.”

So, we asked Rachel for her top three tips for sorting your student finances before starting university.

  1. Make a (realistic) budget. The most important, but also most overlooked, tip. Sit down and create a budget. It might seem like an overly simple, basic task – but we promise it will have a huge impact on your finances. If you note every single expense you have, you’ll have a good idea of where you stand.
  2. Apply for scholarships and grants. At Charles Sturt, we offer more than $3million in scholarships and grants every year. That’s a lot – we know! Our most important tip? You’ve got to be in it to win it!
  3. Use your student card. This card is your golden ticket to a range of discounts. For example, most technology companies offer student discounts on their products (think Apple, Microsoft and Samsung), as well as many local restaurants, cafés and pubs. So make sure you keep an eye out. And it never hurts to ask!

Discover more tips for getting your student finances sorted.

Learn to cook

If you’re moving out of home, it could well be the first time you’re going to have to feed yourself. Or, at least, cook for yourself. But, you know what – cooking is fun, and it’s a great way to share the good life with your new housemates.

So learning to cook is an awesome skill to master before starting university. Besides the communal factor, there are two other very good reasons for this.

First, cooking for yourself is – almost always – the healthier option. And you know what they say: healthy body, healthy mind. Cooking seasonal ingredients (so they are at their best and most nutritious) and controlling what goes into your food in terms of things like salt and sugar is going to make you feel better and have more energy. That’s just science!

The second important reason for learning to cook is that homemade meals are  – almost always – cheaper that store-bought meals. You’re not paying for the ‘construction’ of a dish – you do that. And, by the way, no-one needs to buy pre-cut carrots! Plus, usually, you don’t use as much packaging when you buy separate ingredients. So learning to cook is greener too.

With all those reasons, what’s not to like? But you might be asking: “I haven’t cooked before; where do I start?”

Never fear. We’ve got some recipes that will get you cooking up a storm – in a good way – in no time. Even better, there are recipes for one, two, four or six people, so whoever you’re cooking for, you’ve got a delicious dish up your sleeve.

  • Omelette
  • Jacket potatoes
  • Spaghetti bolognaise
  • Vegetarian nachos

Get your recipes.

Get organised

When you’re starting university, it can seem like you have got so much to do. From applying for your top accommodation option and sorting out a tax file number (yep, you’ll need one of those), to checking out the reading lists for your subjects to deciding which fancy dress costume is going to make the biggest splash – the list can look a bit… stressy.

Well, never fear. We’ve put together a list of tips, tricks and hacks to help you get organised and help you avoid stress city. Here’s the top 10.

  1. Accept your offer to Charles Sturt University now!
  2. Book a campus tour and get familiar with your new surroundings before the session starts.
  3. Connect with us on social media and keep up with everything that’s happening.
  4. Touch base with accommodation services to confirm where you’ll be living.
  5. Buy a planner, diary or calendar (paper or electronic – whatever works for you). It’s the best way to keep track of upcoming assessments, exams, work placements or other commitments.
  6. Learn how to cook a few basic recipes. Sorry guys, two-minute noodles don’t qualify. But boiling an egg does!
  7. If you’re relocating to study, get among your new town. Make a point of checking out local attractions, cool hangouts and community events.
  8. Spend quality time doing some fun things with your family and friends before you head off on your uni journey.
  9. Put together a list of everything you need to pack. Try not to go overboard though – you’ll only need half as much as you think you do!
  10. Start saving now! Get your finances sorted and avoid the dreaded phone call to the ‘rents promising to come home and do all the housework for free next break for emergency cash.

Want more tips? Check out the full list of 50!

Discover the uni library

Students studying in Charles Sturt library

Okay, this might not be the most fun with a capital F part of your uni experience – but it is one of the most important.

The uni library is your go-to resource for your studies. Aside from the obvious benefit of borrowing books, there’s so much more you can do at the uni library. For example, for most of your assignments, you’ll need to do some research. The library can help you with skill development and workshops to help you find the best resources that will help you complete your assessments – and get top marks!

Add in free tutorials and workshops to get you comfortable finding what you need, as well as meeting rooms to work with your fellow students on projects, and even a YouTube channel packed with handy hints, tips and hacks – and the uni library will be your new favourite place (well, maybe).

And if you’re studying online, you can get books posted to you free of charge!

Explore your uni library

Get set to smash Orientation

Group of university students covered in paint

So your first day at university – at least at Charles Sturt University – you won’t be straight into your lectures and tutorials. No, you’ll be in orientation!

Orientation is a couple of days that will get you prepped and primed to start uni. Yes, there will be course and study sessions to get you up to speed the academic side of things. And yes, you’ll hear from staff about the best way to find your way around you campus and your online portal.

But orientation is also your chance to meet people, make your first connections, check out clubs and societies and, you know, have some fun. We cover everything from the academic to social sides of uni, and you can discover the support available to you throughout your journey at Charles Sturt.

Then you’ll be really ready for starting university!