Semester start tips: How to prepare

written by: Nena Julia Aichholzer, 26.08.2021

Summer is slowly coming to an end, the relaxation mode has become part of your everyday life, but the universities will soon open their doors again and for many a new chapter will begin. Regardless of whether you are a freshman or an experienced student, each new semester holds new opportunities to learn and to grow. We have collected the best tips for you to start the semester in order for you to be able to have a good start into the winter semester 2021/22,

1. Set goals

Before you start studying and making new friends, it is important to set goals for the new semester. Why are you studying? What made you choose your specific subject? What do you want to achieve with your studies and is it more important to you to go through your studies quickly, to go abroad for a year or to gain your first job experience by working on the side?

If you ask yourself these questions, you will find answers that you can come back to to help you go through difficult phases. Because for example in exam phases you can not only rely on your motivation and will maybe need a reminder why you should summarize the next Power Point presentation instead of “Netflixing” or enjoying a glass of sparkling wine!

2. Plan your Semester

As soon as you are enrolled at the university and have paid your ÖH fee, you can access your online learning platform and register for courses. In most cases, you can put together your own schedule, but make sure to avoid overlapping dates! Popular courses often fill up quickly, we advise you to register as soon as possible! The registration deadlines often start in the semester – or summer break, so take a look at your online learning program during your “rest periods” to not miss any important deadline.

3. Apply for a study grants (or other scholarships)

Obviously, not everyone fulfills all the requirements for student aid – but even if the chance of receiving the full scholarship is slim, it is worthwhile to apply at least once. There are also some other scholarships that you can apply for in Austria, for example a merit based scholarship – different from student aid you only apply for this at the end of the semester.

4. Find a (part-time) job

It didn’t work out with the scholarships, but you still need a little bit of extra cash? How about a part-time job? Many students work on Saturdays, others help out at the university as tutors and some with flexible time management use exactly that and work sporadically, for example at events. Here you will find the best application tips for students, so your next part-time job is guaranteed!

5. Plan personal matters

In addition to your university schedule, you should of course also fill your time with things that bring you joy. Of course, not every party of the semester can be planned in advance, but you can, for example, register for sports courses at the beginning of the semester! The Vienna Sports Institute offers many courses at great prices; just take a look at the USI website!

Speaking of great prices, budget planning can also be very important as a student! Here are some tips on how to save money while cooking!

6. Attend orientation events

Good preparation is the alpha and omega of every semester. Especially as a freshman, you should have a look around university before your first lecture so that you don’t have to frantically walk around on the first day looking for the right lecture hall!

Many universities offer orientation events in the first week of the semester and show you, for example, where to get your student ID and where the cafeteria and other important buildings at the university are. These events are often held by students from higher semesters, so if you have further questions about studies, student life or professors, you can take the opportunity and just ask!

7. Make use of initial motivation

Submissions, presentations, exam preparations. At the end of the semester, the deadlines usually pile up and thus the mountain of stress will get bigger and bigger. To avoid this, we recommend that you use the initial motivation of the new semester! Try to give presentations as early as possible and if you are already in a higher semester, you can also take exams from previous courses at the beginning of the semester!

8. Make new friends

Have you moved to a new city, changed your studies and maybe don’t know anyone yet? Making new friends as an adult can be tricky at times! Similarities such as the same degree, the same sports course or the same taste in music can be very helpful to make new friends. Don’t be afraid to speak to other students, most of them are in the same situation as you and are looking forward to a little chat or even having a coffee together!

Here you will find even more tips on how to make new friends and study buddies at university! (Übersetzung noch nicht online)

9. Establish learning groups

If you can’t solve a problem on your own, maybe you just need the right food for thought! At university you are largely on your own, professors expect a lot of independent learning and that is a good thing, after all, you are no longer at school. Nevertheless, it is a huge advantage to exchange ideas with others and to learn together, because problems that seem insoluble are often not even worth mentioning as a team! Bonus tip: exchange notes!

10. Enjoy!!

Probably the most important point on this list! Enjoy your studies! Studying does not just mean sitting in the university, listening to the lecturer, going home and studying until you fall asleep (except perhaps during the examination phase), studying should give you the opportunity to learn new things, broaden your horizons and get to know exciting people and topics.

The beginning of a degree is a big step for many young people and often part of a new phase of your life. We hope that our tips have made your transition to everyday university life a little easier and we wish you a lot of success in the new semester!


We are happy to help!