Wendy Hargreaves

Welcome to university. Congratulations on beginning the challenging and rewarding journey of becoming a tertiary student. It’s an exciting time. It can also be a little daunting. Perhaps you’ve been busy enrolling in courses, exploring university websites and searching for the textbooks on how to become a mechanical engineer, a clinical psychologist or a secondary school teacher. Yet despite all those books, you may have noticed that one is missing. Where is the book that tells you how to be a student? Are you expected to already know how to write essays, study for exams and give presentations? Where will you learn those academic skills to help you not just survive, but thrive at university?

Academic Success is designed to help you with your journey. It’s a handbook of the core skills for empowering students, whatever you are studying. Spending time learning and practising these skills will produce benefits that flow across all subjects throughout your years at university. Now that’s a valuable investment. Not only can this knowledge improve your achievement, but it can also reduce the stress of being a student, and ultimately make your university experience more enjoyable.

Academic Success is divided into five parts reflecting different aspects of the tertiary experience you will encounter. Part A: Successful Beginnings addresses what it is like to be a new student at university. It begins with discussing the advantages of having a tertiary education. It then details the experiences of adjusting to university life and the benefits of connecting with the people who can support you through this time. There’s also a chapter about succeeding as a First Nations student.

Part B: Successful Foundations introduces basic skills in English language and Maths, and techniques for accessing and working with information in your subject area.  It will also explain the importance of academic integrity and acknowledging your sources of information. These chapters are valuable particularly if you’re feeling unprepared for university or anxious about returning to study after years at home or in the workforce. They can build your confidence and prepare you for the new learning ahead. It is also a good place to check if there are any gaps in your understanding of the basic concepts you will rely on throughout your studies.

Part C: Successful Study Skills presents the everyday, core skills that successful students use while at university. These are methods applied by generations of students to manage time, set goals and beat procrastination. This discussion is followed by wealth of practical tips and tricks on reading efficiently, taking effective notes, organising a study space, and exploring ways to think critically, analytically and creatively about what you are learning.

Part D: Successful Assessment meets head-on the challenges of tertiary assessments. These chapters step you through the processes of writing assignments, constructing presentations, and preparing for exams. It also discusses what you can do if you fail an assessment to turn it into future success. These chapters contain the pointers that can help you convert your hard work into strong grades that will ultimately earn your degree.

Part E: Successful Futures explores what lies ahead when your university experience draws to a close. It has suggestions of what you can do now to assist your transition. There are ideas for improving your readiness for work in your preferred profession and for increasing your appeal to future employers in a competitive job market. It also explores your options of pathways for your life after graduation. A discussion of postgraduate study can help you decide if you want to pursue more study.

Every chapter throughout the book concludes with a summary of key points. You can use these as a quick reminder of what you have learnt. Also be on the lookout for student stories in the chapters. These are short quotes from past and current students from diverse backgrounds, reflecting on their personal experiences at university. You will also encounter artwork by KC Rae and Sam Conway who bring a First Nations’ perspective to discussions.

Commencing university is a rollercoaster ride. As a new student it is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of new information, people and procedures that you encounter daily. It is a challenge to know where best to direct your time and energy. The advantage of reading Academic Success is that what you will learn can impact positively on every aspect of your journey. This book isn’t about mastering one subject. It’s about empowering you to master them all by building the skills that successful students use. Through this book, we can make the journey to academic success with you. Let’s begin.


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Academic Success Copyright © 2021 by Wendy Hargreaves is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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