6 Tips for a Successful Start at University

A Guide for Young Adults Navigating New Horizons

A fresh start can be overwhelming. Leaving for your university, maybe alone is a huge step but you are not alone.

I started university life overwhelmed and scared. It feels huge and you are probably living away from home for the first time.

Those tips I learned the hard way figuring out university alone without any parent, older sibling, or older friend who studied.

I wish someone told me those at my start of studying, so here they are for you to have a successful first week:

Meet New People and Find New Friends

All of your colleagues are starting with the same feelings:

  • alone
  • anxious
  • excited
  • overwhelmed

It’s totally normal. The university is new for everyone. And you will not be the only one succeeding at university.

University is a part of life to find new friends, meet new people and to do networking. They will be the ones working or recommending you for work with you in the future.

Take the opportunities the university offers and don’t be shy to speak to new people.

Talk with the person next to you in lectures or at the library (except when they are busy studying).

Go to welcome parties or meetups!

One big university hack is to find yourself a study group. They don’t have to be the first people you meet. Everyone is studying differently: find someone that fits your level of knowledge and pace.

What I know from experience is that you have to be open to new people or different study groups. Some people are slower and they can keep you from learning and experiencing more.

Don’t follow the herd every time! University is the place to find your own path and pace in life!

Don’t let friends keep you from it!

“Friendship is born at that moment when onen person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one’”

— C.S. Lewis

Ask for Help

University with the timetables, buildings and schedules can be really complicated. But there are always people you can ask for help: your colleagues or professors.

Don’t be too stubborn to ask! It’s usually way faster to get help instead of figuring it out on your own.

Ask in your study group or ask your professor after a lecture.

If you need help with life outside of the classroom there are always really helpful societies and offices available.

The last resource is to google it!

You are new to this world. You will experience and try new things, you will fail and you will always be able to ask for help.

Get Into a Routine

Everything is new. It’s okay to be overwhelmed and confused in the beginning. My pro tip is to get into your routine as fast as possible:

  • set your timetable
  • set time blocks to continuously recap the lectures afterward
  • set time aside for free time and meeting friends

Routines help the brain automate and subconsciously decide things. You don’t have to think about what to eat for breakfast or when you have to be at university any more. You can focus on studying and experiencing college life.

Help your mind get used to new routines to make free space there for all the new things you are learning.

Make your own timetable and figure out your way of time management. There are some great books about time management (or my free guide) to help you find a plan to manage your time.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”

— Paul J. Meyer

Have Fun and Enjoy New Experiences

University life is not just about studying as much as possible.

It’s also a time to have fun, enjoy new experiences and also to celebrate life.

My tip is to find a good balance between having fun and studying. It’s easy to leave everything, procrastinate and party, but it’s gonna be way harder later to study day and night to pass the exams.

Celebrate small steps of achievements!

Experience new things by going out of your comfort zone or checking out new topics.

You can decide what fun means to you, and what you want to experience.

Find Yourself

You are young and you are at the start of your life.

Go out of your comfort zone and create yourself!

I saved the most important point for last because I want you to remember it. It’s okay if you didn’t find yourself yet.

Now is the time to:

  • learn about new topics
  • make experiences
  • fail
  • do networking
  • Go out of your comfort zone

The world has so much to offer.

Go out there and experience it!

But also take time to go inward and figure out what you want to achieve in your life. This doesn’t have to be 100% fixed yet, because life is change.

But having a goal and a dream you are working toward is a big motivator when the university can be hard.

You don’t have to hurry to create yourself. A lot of people say their 50s were the time when they felt most of themselves (Michelle Obama said that).

Don’t forget: you live your own life! You don’t have to listen to society or follow their rules.

It’s your life path.

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

— Oprah Winfrey


Whoever and wherever you were in high school doesn’t matter anymore. You can start from the beginning.

You have a lot of years left of your life and a lot to figure out.

It’s not gonna be easy all the time. Life is hard. The faster you accept that the easier you can make hard decisions for your future.

You are at the start, and the next years are gonna be really exciting. You can’t even imagine it.

Enjoy it!

How I was able to study, part-time work and volunteer at the same time and you can too:

Get your free copy of my tips about how to boost your productivity!

(c) Karina Ahrer

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