How do I…?: A Guide to Navigating the Tricks of the Uni Trade

The start of uni, just like the start of any adventure, can be pretty intimidating at first. Sure, maybe 13 years of schooling has taught you a thing or two, but the big wide world of adult learning has quite a few differences to learning the alphabet and finger-painting.

Even the workload and hours of effort put into Year 12 or TAFE certificates leaves some pretty big gaps in your knowledge about how to navigate the world of university. And as much as your O-Week leaders and your introductory lessons have helped you, you probably have a few questions about how all this uni stuff really works.

When it comes to uni, when you’ve learnt how to do it once, you’re pretty much set up for the rest of your degree, so let this be your administrative guide for following the rules, earning those marks and embracing all the things uni has to throw at you.

Ask for an Extension?

This one can seem really tricky and intimidating, but as long as you have a good reason for needing an extension (i.e. NOT that you left it too late) and a reasonable professor (most of them are, trust me), you should be set. Start off by sending an email to your professor outlining your situation, and politely request an extension. Don’t specify how much longer you need – it’s your professor’s decision to make, and they’ll let you know. It’s very important to hang onto that email, just in case your professor forgets or there’s a mix-up about your new due date.

Next step is to have a quick chat to your professor to confirm. Just hang back after a lecture or tutorial and double-check with them that it’s still okay for you to have some extra time.

Final step: when you write up your cover page for your assignment (always, always, always include a cover page) include ‘Extension granted until 04/04/16’ or whatever date applies. This is a nice reminder that you are definitely not submitting an assignment late, and are still the wonderful student everyone knows you to be.

Miss a class?

This depends on what type of class it is. If it’s a lecture, it’s okay to just miss it and watch the lecture or look at the slides online. If it’s a tutorial, try to let your professor know by emailing or chatting to them asap. This is just a courtesy thing. They can usually give you a more specific idea of what to do, like posting your ideas in the forum, or just taking the day off.

Earn participation marks?

Turn up. This is so essential. Even if you don’t say much, you can usually earn a mediocre chunk of marks by just showing up to your classes. That being said, actively participating by doing your readings so you have informed ideas about your subjects, and respectfully and passionately discussing these ideas in class will have you rising up the ranks in no time. Bonus points for being the first to volunteer to read aloud or share your work in class. Your professor will notice things like that, trust me.