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Finding your balance: there isn't one 'right' way to go to uni


Whether your path to uni has been a straight line from A to B or more of a winding zigzag, finding your way, your way, is what matters most. The truth is that while we all approach our studies differently, everyone can find balance in their uni life and succeed in their studies.

Maybe you know exactly what you want to study. Or maybe you are unsure, and your path may head in a few different directions before graduation arrives. The good news there isn’t one ideal way to plan for your degree.

Different strokes

When it comes to decision-making about your degree and future career, you will likely fall into one of two groups:

  1. the more organised group, meaning you might take a methodical, planned approach towards uni

  2. the more laidback group, meaning you might veer towards uncertainty about your decisions.

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The laidback group are usually unsure about what they want to study. While they might have locked in their course preferences, these could still change while they hunt around for more information. Those in the methodical, planned category have often decided what to study long before applications were due.

No matter what group you fall into – that’s okay. Both options can lead to a fulfilling university experience and an exciting career.

Making a plan

One such student who took a more planned approach is Lachlan Craig.

“Throughout Year 12, I gave a lot of thought to what I wanted to study," he said. “I had a job tutoring music at a local primary school and I really enjoyed it. Because of that experience, I thought I would try primary education and I have been enjoying the course ever since.”

 

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Once uni began, Lachlan continued to make considered choices to manage his new life.

“It definitely took a while to get used to the difference between school and university. You are required to be a lot more independent at uni and that comes with more responsibility,” he said. “So, during my first year, I made sure I cut down on activities outside of uni to make the transition easier, which definitely helped for me.”

Common ground

The team at the ACU Counselling Service want students to know that experiencing uncertainty about your course or uni life in general is totally normal.

“University is always a balancing act. Some of our students worry their degree is not a good fit. And then once students have begun their course, they might feel like their units don’t seem relevant to the career they have in mind, which could make them uneasy about their studies,” the team said.

 

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If you’re a new student, the counselling team say increased stress and anxiety about the transition to uni is not uncommon either. “For many students, this feeling subsides over time as they learn how to juggle university with their other responsibilities and commitments.”

For Lachlan, reassurance came when he realised everyone felt the same. “The most helpful advice I could ever give to new students is just remember we’re all in the same boat,” he said. “It’s scary, but if you go and introduce yourself to someone new, they’re probably thinking and worrying about the same things you are.”

 

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Balancing it all

If you’re already at university, the counselling team says being realistic about your responsibilities will help.

“Think hard about how much time and effort is required to complete all of your readings, assignments, classes, lectures, and study and exam preparation,” they said.

For Lachlan, this meant reassessing his work schedule. “In my first year, I made sure I only worked 10 to 15 hours a week,” he said. “It was so much better having spare time than not enough time to be able to do everything.”

Unfortunately, when it feels like everything is piling up, self-care activities usually fall to the wayside.

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“While it’s important to stay on track with your classes, we often see students who have forgotten to keep up with the things that keep us physically and mentally well,” the counselling team said. “It’s important students get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and make time for exercise and hobbies, as well as socialising.”

Unsure about uni? You're not alone and help is at hand. Contact AskACU for advice about your study options and discover where our courses can take you.

 

 

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Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G