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Li with friends, socialising at a UQ event

Top tips for your first semester at UQ

Not sure what to do in your first few weeks? Economics graduate Li Xuan Tan has some university tips for first years.
Uni life
Published 18 Dec, 2020  ·  5-minute read

Starting your first semester at UQ can be both exciting and daunting. Understandably, you may be looking for some tips for starting university. Well, we're here to deliver the goods.

This is where Li comes in – a data/policy analyst, youth advocate and recent economics graduate from UQ. With Li's tips for first year students at university, you'll soon be settling right into UQ life and thriving in your studies.

Li's ultimate tip for first year students at university?

There are so many resources and opportunities at UQ — be open and take advantage of them!

Let's dive into the others.

Study tips for first year university students

Studying smart will not only benefit you during university, but into the future after you graduate too. Some personal study habits I use are:

Use a calendar to track events and assessments

  • Whenever you get details about an event, put it in your calendar.
  • Use reminders  –  our brains can’t remember everything!

Take regular breaks

  • Take time to digest the material and also rest your eyes.

  • Try the Pomodoro technique: study for 25 minutes, rest for 5 minutes and repeat.

Create a dedicated study space

  • Don’t study in a distracting space  – for example, studying in your bed will just make you sleepy.
  • A desk clear of clutter in a quiet space is ideal.
  • Try using a study lamp. Turn it on when you're studying – your brain could get used to the routine and switch into study mode when you turn on the lamp.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

  • Don’t stay up too late  – you need your 8 hours of beauty sleep to power through the day.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate: bring a water bottle everywhere.
  • Remember to eat!
Li and her waterbottle

Study actively

  • Take notes during class.
  • Study content over a few days instead of cramming – your brain will thank you.
  • Summarise the content and try teaching it to someone else. If you don’t have anyone, teach your chair or any inanimate object lying around your study space.

Explore our list of study apps for uni students to help you stay focused and ace your exams in your first year.

Join a group and go to events

There's a day at the start of every semester where you can sign up to clubs and societies tailored to your interests. You can always sign up for these clubs online as well if you can’t make it on the day. Usually, they host welcome events so make sure to check them out.

There are also Facebook groups where you can engage with like-minded students. If you want to chill and do some fun activities, UQ Life and UQ Union hosts various events throughout the year, which are advertised on their Facebook pages.

Joining a group and going to events is a great way to take a break from studying, meet new people and maybe make new friends.

One of the most important first year university tips is to get involved in the events, activities and information sessions throughout UQ's Welcome Weeks, which start with the famous O-Week.

Li Xuan Tan sits at a dinner table with friends and UQ committee members

Joining a club and even becoming a committee member is a great way to meet new people at university.

Check out resources

Other than academic resources, UQ provides other support that may be helpful throughout your time at university. 


There's a health clinic on campus for your GP needs and Student Services also provide counselling. Other health and wellbeing resources can be found on the health and wellbeing page on my.UQ.

If you currently have a disability or injury, or come into exceptional circumstances during your degree, Diversity, Disability and Inclusion Advisers can assist you in discussing and arranging adjustments.

Extra-curricular and employability

There are free employability and career services available for all UQ students. However, Business, Economics and Law (BEL) students and recent graduates also have access to a range of employability resources and services for their study area. You can attend employability workshops and events, book a consult, and develop a deeper understanding of where your degree can take you. Find more information on the UQ Careers and Employability website and the BEL careers and employability website.

BEL Careers and Employability runs a program called the Employability Award. This is essentially a learning program that will guide you through a range of experiences and reflections to unlock your potential. If you complete it, you'll get an award upon graduation.

StudentHub is a great place to look for job opportunities   – it regularly updates the job board and events page. There's a specific section on StudentHub with resources to help you out with resumes, cover letters and interviews.

If you’re interested in starting your own business or delving into your entrepreneurial ideas, check out UQ Ventures. They host regular events and workshops on entrepreneurship and innovation.

If you want to make a change and advocate for students at UQ, there are opportunities such as Student-Staff Partnerships to voice your opinion and implement meaningful change.

After your first semester, you can volunteer at UQ in many different activities from events to mentoring.

At the end of every year, clubs and societies elect new members onto their committees at their Annual General Meetings too. These are great ways to meet others, improve your soft skills and make a difference!


Student Support provides various resources to develop your skills in general study, completing assessments and preparing for exams.

The resources at UQ library are focused on developing research and software training skills. They also have liaison librarians to help you out if you need help researching a specific topic.

If you need to talk to someone about studying or completing assessments, book an appointment with a Learning Adviser.

Find the work balance sweet spot

Make sure to schedule activities that bring you joy, help you socialise or make you feel accomplished every week and try and strike a balance between the three.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of being involved in too many activities  – know your limits and when to say no. On the other hand, it's also easy to be too involved in your studies. Make sure you reach out to friends, enjoy your hobbies and most importantly, take care of yourself.

Li Xuan Tan sits holding a puppy and smiling

During exam periods, UQ Life often partner with a local animal shelter or charity organisation to bring in puppies for students to cuddle with and de-stress.

We hope these tips for starting university have helped you feel confident going into your first semester at UQ.

Worried about losing touch with your high school friends as you all go your separate ways to university and beyond? Read our tips on how to stay connected after high school.

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