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 universities will soon open their doors again and for many students 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 new semester.

1. Setting 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?
  • 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?

The answers to these questions will be helpful in dire times. When motivation is lacking or you lose sight of your goals, this reminder will pick you up and motivate you. If you don’t know where to start with your goals, here is an article on the SMART method for setting goals!

2. Semester planning

As soon as you are enrolled at 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 classes! Popular courses often fill up quickly, we advise you to register as soon as possible! The registration deadlines often start during your break, so take a look at your online university program during your “resting periods” to not miss any important deadlines.

3. Apply for student allowances (or other scholarships)

Maybe you meet the requirements for student allowances, so put in your application. Even if you’re not sure if it applies to you, it’s worth a try. There are also some other scholarships that you can apply for in Austria, for example a performance scholarship that you apply for in autumn for the previous academic year. Herer is an article with all the information around the performance scholarship!

4. Find a mini job

You didn’t get a scholarship, 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 to 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 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! We have researched the most extraordinary and popular courses for you!

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 preparation events

Good preparation is key for 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 weeks 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!

Here are more tips for motivation at university!

8. 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!

9. Study 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 your time

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!


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