So you're a first year at university - here's your complete survival guide

first year university survival guide


Congratulations! You’ve made it into university. As a full-time first year student, there are a few things you need to know in order to make the most of your time here.

It really is an exciting experience to be surrounded by so many people from various walks of life! It's really different from what high school was like!

Get ready to make a great start by making new friends, enjoying new experiences and growing your wings to more independence!

In this first year survival guide we'll be sharing tips to help you catch your breath as quickly as possible and get you on the road to success.

Adopt an attitude of responsibility

First and foremost, be sure to attend all of your classes. This may seem like an obvious one, but skipping class can really hurt your progress.

No one is managing you anymore and it is up to you alone to do what needs to be done to succeed.

Get to know your professors and lecturers

Your professors and lecturers are a valuable resource that you should take advantage of. Not only can they help you learn the course material, but they can also offer guidance and advice about your academic and professional career paths.

They see and teach hundreds of first year students every year and may only make time for those who bother to get to know them too.

That's why it's a good idea to introduce yourself to them and establish a good and productive relationship.

Take advantage of campus resources

Campus resources like the library, study centre, counseling and disability services can be extremely helpful, and sometimes even lifesavers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost, don’t be afraid to seek out help from these services.

Remember to protect and care for your heart too. After all, being a successful student is as much about your brain and pursuit for knowledge as it is about being emotionally secure.

Get organised

One of the most important things you can do as a first year student is to get organised. This means creating a schedule and sticking to it. Your first year of university sets the tone for the rest of your student career.

Read also: 11 Bulletproof study habits successful students swear by

You don’t have to be a robot and stick to the same routine day in and day out, but having some structure will help you feel more in control of your life.

Your timetable is going to be packed, so use your free time to study or get ahead on assignments. This includes making time for breaks, exercise and developing a social life by having fun with your friends.

Remember that the only person who is managing you is you!

Buy your textbooks early

Textbooks are expensive and you will probably need a stack of them for your courses. However, you don’t have to wait until the last minute to buy them.

In fact, it's a good idea to buy them as soon as possible so you can start reading and getting ahead. Not to mention that textbooks can be sold out quickly at the start of the year.

You can find good deals on textbooks at Bookit. We have a physical and online store where you can buy university books.

And the best news is we are the cheapest Bcom, Accounting and Law bookstore in South Africa.

Check out our store here

Get involved on campus

Your first year at university is a great time to get involved in some campus clubs or societies.

Not only will you meet people and make some great friends, but you’ll also have the opportunity to develop new skills and explore your interests.

One of the most important things to do as a first year university student is to find your feet on and around campus.

Read also: How to make money as a student (without sending hundreds of DMs a day)

5 important and useful apps for first year university students

Public transit apps

Google Maps

Organisational apps

Calendar apps

Focus apps


There are lots of things to take into account as a first year student at university – from where your classes are, how to get around, where to get the best deals on textbooks and where the best food spots are!

The transition from high school to first year student can be daunting, but with a little preparation and some support, you’ll make it through just fine.

Make sure you take advantage of the resources your university offers – like counseling and tutoring services – and get connected with other students on campus.

And don’t forget to buy your textbooks!

Contact us today to buy your textbooks for your classes this semester. We wish you all the best in your first year at university!