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Despite the fact that I’m a serial procrastinator, I always get excited about preparing before each academic year by buying and covering books, getting my pencil case ready and organising my pens, notes, textbooks. In fact all this may be a cleverly disguised form of procrastination in itself.

The only problem this year was that I didn’t know what to bring to uni! So here’s what I’ve found to be the best options for the newbies.

Many people learn the hard way that getting one notebook for each subject, or getting one of those ridiculously fat 5-in-1 books, really isn’t the best. They seem super neat at the time, but too many a time I’ve been on the consoling end of my friends’ cursing when all their stuff doesn’t fit in the pretty bag they’ve decided best matched their outfit for the day.

The best thing I’ve found for lectures is to get a lecture pad (WHO would have thought??), and to keep a bigger folder at home, with separators for each of your subjects, and then, weekly strip the lecture pad of written-on pages, and put them in the folder. This is not only much more really-pretty-but-really-small-bag friendly, but you will find that you may not even need to write long notes in some lectures. Lectures are generally presented in powerpoint format, and most lecturers will post the slides on the internet, so if you print them out before class and bring them in, you can add to them during the lecture.

Regarding laptops, they are by no means necessary. At the beginning of the year I brought my laptop most days for lectures, but found that for most of my subjects, bringing in printed the slides was much more effective. Usually it’s best to go to the first few lectures with your trusty lecture pad, and then figure out what your best option is from there. In any one lecture I usually only count around 3 people using laptops.

If you ever need a computer at uni, by the way, there are TONS of access labs around campus, all with internet (and you can even check your emails, unlike the computers I had at my high school), and word processing and printing facilities. There is a certain amount of downloads you get for free each day, and I’ve never had to go over that limit.

If you do have a laptop, they are handy sometimes if you want to escape to the library and work on an essay using your own personal computer, and there are desks on level 4 of Fisher next to the wall with powerpoints, reserved for laptop users, as well as around some of the access labs. As I write this, I am currently in Fisher, with my beautiful white laptop plugged in... procrastinating! I have found that generally, coming to the library helps me work better because there are just toooo many distractions at home. If I’m studying, trips to the toilet or merely venturing outside my room just to get a drink of water invariably gets me entangled in the many diversions presenting themselves along the way (eg taste testing dinner, neatening the shoe rack, seeing what’s on TV, having a nap on the couch... etc).

So sometimes after class I come to the library for a couple of hours even just to do some readings - this being said, the amount of times I come increases almost exponentially as the due date for an assignment approaches, and I only really started this technique last week when I became conscious of my looming psych report - but it really works. Another reason is, while I’m at uni I’m still in the “studying” zone, if you will, but as soon as I get home, no matter how early it is or how light my day was, I just want to crash and relax. This way, I don’t feel guilty about doing so.

Moving back to the topic at hand - tutorials are always different in terms of note taking. We all had to buy a handbook for our psych tutes, which includes some reading, and spaces for you to do your pre-work, and also for the in class material. For maths, the tutes involve doing exercises, so I found that a separate notebook was actually helpful otherwise I always lost the pieces of paper I wrote stuff on. For art history (last semester), the tute usually involved looking at some slides, having discussions and taking notes, so I brought in my laptop for that. In astronomy, there is a presentation every week, and we get hand outs in every class, so I don’t need to bring anything for those. And with labs, like you will have for most sciences, you will have to buy a lab manual to bring to each class.

So I hope that helps you all, and that it makes you more prepared than I was, for the first day. Meanwhile, it’s getting dark outside so I’m going to finish up my readings then reward my hard studying (no, really, I HAVE been studying) by going to see the 2006 Arts Revue!!!

PS I’ve never been at Fisher this late before. It’s almost dinner time and there are some hard-core study-ers in here!!!


Asako! You've made my day - a fellow stationery fanatic! And good on you for saving countless trees-worth of those fat notebooks with dividers...every girl thinks they'll be the best and feels super-organised until she finds that perfect bag and has to ditch the A4! Nice work!

Thanks a lot for this post. I found this site through a google search. Who better to know all this info then a uni student herself? Genius. Now i will definately be ready when i do go to uni. :)

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Everything you ever wanted to know about uni but were too afraid to ask....