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Back to school - 7 secrets to success for those who haven’t opened a textbook in years

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Returning to study can be a daunting idea, especially if you haven't seen the inside of a classroom for a while. But it doesn't have to be! We've put together our top tips to help you succeed at university.

1. Have a plan in mind

It doesn't need to be fully realised but it needs to exist. Think about why you want to study, what you aim to get out of your degree, what career you want and how studying will help you get there. Having a plan will help keep you on track and remind you why you started when you feel overwhelmed.

2. Be flexible

Returning to study is a long-term commitment. In order to succeed, you need to be flexible and be able to juggle competing commitments like work and family. Be honest about how much work you can handle, and don't try to take on too much.

3. Make friends

University is about learning from others, not just books. Making friends allows you to gain new perspectives and broaden your view of the word. It also means having someone who can help you with assignments, and share their notes with you; they will probably understand the pressures of returning to study better than your family and friends. Whether you are studying on-campus or online, having a friend can make life much easier.

4. Make use of available support services

One of the biggest mistakes that students of all ages make is not utilising support services available to them. If you are struggling, it is important to seek help early and often. Student Support Services at UC cover everything from learning and study support, health and wellbeing, and financial support and general administrative needs. There are also dedicated services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, research and international students.

Services like the Careers UC can help you develop your employability skills, secure jobs on and off campus, and provide you with guidance for your future career pathways. 

5. Don't make assumptions, read everything carefully!

If you have studied before, it can be easy to assume that you know how things operate at university. But do not be fooled, things change! Read your unit guidelines and make sure you don't get caught out on things like attendance, assignment extensions and class participation.

If you're unsure of anything, ask questions. Your course convenor, lecturers and tutors are there to support you in your studies.

6. Don't doubt your abilities

Between lectures, tutorials and the dreaded group assignments, university can be pretty daunting – especially if you're out of practice. Despite this, it is important not to let fear or doubt become an obstacle to learning. Face the challenge and become confident in your abilities to help you combat those self-defeating thoughts when they creep in. Have faith in yourself and remember that there are plenty of people you can talk to within the University if you need support.

7. Go in with an open mind

You aren't an expert at everything – that's why you are at university after all. Don't forget to enjoy the experience as you continue to kick your educational goals!