• How well are you adjusting to university learning?
  • What are your goals? Do you have an academic plan?
  • U life can be overwhelming. Are you using your prioritizing and time management skills well?

1. Attend orientations

Welcome to HKU! You are going to start a most exciting academic journey. HKU is famous for its rich and vibrant student orientation activities. But academic orientation is equally, if not more, important, too. So be sure that you attend the orientation session organized by your Faculty and (for some of you) School / Department. Check your HKU email account or here to find out the date and time of the orientation.

2. Meet your advisers

Unlike in high school, as a university student you are expected to make a lot of study -related decisions. Your Faculty Academic Adviser (FAA) is there to support your transition to the University, and guide you in developing your academic goals and study plan. Some Faculties will ask you to sign-up for your FAA; some will assign one to you. You can check who your FAA is in SIS and are encouraged to meet with him/her whenever you need academic advice in your first year.

Besides FAA, there are other advisers to help you: Temporary Academic Adviser (TAA), Faculty Student Adviser (FSA), Residential Student Adviser (RSA). Check this video to see the different support they provide to you.

3. Understand your curriculum and how to select courses

HKU has more than 100 undergraduate curricula, each with their unique curriculum requirements. These requirements may change from year to year. So don’t just rely on your friends, senior students or your orientation leaders to understand what courses you need to enroll – check it yourself. Pay special attention to language, common core and pre-requisite requirements.

4. Get familiar with the learning resources at HKU

Different students have different study pace and styles; so besides lectures and tutorials, the University offers a lot of optional learning resources that you can turn to in case of need. If you have difficulties in using English as medium of learning, you may obtain help from the CAES. The SMLC offers a variety of European and Asian Language Courses. The Library also has an examination database (http://find.lib.hku.hk/record=HKU_IZ61512022570003414) which provides full text to some HKU past examination papers to facilitate your revision. For a smooth transition to university learning, check out “Study Smart” offered by CEDARS-CoPE to learn effective study habits and skills.

5. Devise your academic and study abroad plan

Although you are only a first-year student, it is important for you to develop an overall academic study plan over your whole study period NOW. You need to have an overall picture of how to fit in the different opportunities to your study plan. You may consider study abroad, internship, service learning, undergraduate research etc. Check with your FAA in case of doubt.

You may also need to plan how to spend your first summer in HKU. To enrich your experience during university life, you may enroll for summer abroad programme, or join a service trip, or find a summer job. Start to think about it now. AAO has an academic planning sheet to guide you, download it here.

Alternatively, to help you plan courses, our new E-Academic Planner provides a super-easy way to help you find courses, make a study plan and calculate credits semester by semester. However, please note that it CANNOT check course offering, time clashes and pre-requisite requirements etc. Please always refer to the course details from the programme syllabus and the SIS system while you plan.

6. Explore different study pathways

First Major in Home Faculty
For those of you who need to select a primary major, explore the different options offered by your Faculty. It is important to keep an open mind! There might be some academic disciplines which you presently have no idea what they are about, but you may, after having a better understanding, eventually find them interesting. Discuss with your FAA if in doubt.

Second Major / Minors in Home or Non-home Faculties
You may also select second major / minor if you wish. HKU has a vast array of choices, across Faculties, for you. Here is the list. You may obtain more information of these majors and minors in AAO’s Major and Minor Exploration Event, held jointly with different Faculties and CEDARS (Careers and Placement) in January each year. Stay tuned for the email announcement.

To get started, take a look at the “5 Steps to Major Minor Selection“. There are indeed many ways to find out whether these subjects suit your interest/ abilities. You may sign up for one or two courses in year one, or request to talk with a Temporary Academic Adviser (TAA) who teaches the subject. Within 24 hours of your request, you will receive an email notification with information of the TAA assigned to you.

Consider Relevant Factors in Major Selection

“I am really interested in this subject, but what job can I pursue with this major?” Did this question cross your mind when you looked at the list of available study choices? Our careers advisers at CEDARS have some advice for you. Click the questions to read more.

7. Balance studies, activities and sleep

Your senior peers may have already told you that HKU has an extraordinarily large variety of extra-curricular activities, and that it is important for you to participate in some of them. Yes, joining some of these activities will not only help you develop friendship, but also help you sharpen your soft-skills (event organization, social awareness etc.) After all, university life is not just about studying.

However, it is also very important for you to strike a balance between studies and other activities (such as hall activities). Learn time management / self-management skills from CEDARS if necessary. While some students managed both studies and activities well, nevertheless, there were also students who failed their academic studies because of over-commitment in student activities. You don’t want to be one of them!


  • Register for courses – You are required to register for courses for BOTH semesters in the August registration. However, summer courses can only be registered during the Add / Drop period in Semester 2. Don’t miss the enrollment periods! Not sure about how to do it? Read the tips we prepared for you!
  • Don’t commit plagiarism – Plagiarism is defined as the unacknowledged use, as one’s own, of work of another person, whether or not such work has been published. It is a very serious academic offence and the University does not allow or tolerate plagiarism. Learn more about it
  • Make your own study plan – Don’t blindly follow advice from your peers whose circumstances may differ from yours. There is no “one-size-fit-all” thing in University. Find your own purpose, study method and style.
  • Find out requirements for your desired major – Some programmes have a selection process for the primary major (e.g. BEng, Business Design and Innovation of BBA). You may need to devise a Plan B (i.e., what courses to take in year 1 in case you are not accepted by your desired major in year 2).


Lim Hui Yuan (BSc, Year 1)
Lim Hui Yuan (BSc, Year 1)

They said, “It’s okay, pace yourself out in your Year 1, you’ll slowly find your way out”.

They said, “Don’t worry about grades and enjoy your freshman year”.

I hear these words countless times, but just could not digest it. During exam and assignment deadline periods, I would crumble over the pile of unfinished work and readings. As the stress level increases, so does my self-doubt. The confidence I had instilled throughout my high school instantly disappear upon hearing about my results.

At this point in time, I couldn’t help but feel dejected. Yet, my senior reminded me to recall what was my purpose to study Science. Was it because I want to get good grades? Or was it to achieve a higher goal? The latter was my answer. Knowing that grade does not holistically define myself, I learnt to slowly walk out of the grade ‘oppression’. I am glad that I was able to find many supportive peers and loving floormates, to accompany me and guide me through my first semester of university. Brazen, I am ready to undertake the challenges in the future.

Angelica Louise Bedana (BA, Year 1)
Angelica Louise Bedana (BA, Year 1)

As much as it was supposed to be exhilarating, walking into HKU as a first year undergraduate for the first time petrified me.

I was nervous about being in an alien environment. Plus, I didn’t know how to adapt to new teaching styles, navigate my way around the campus, nor did I know how credits worked. However, that quickly changed as I found people who were more than happy to help. I received advice from other students and the AAO, and was even referred to workshops that helped answer my questions.

There are many things I love about HKU, including the myriad of courses to choose from. Personally, the greatest delight was making friends from different backgrounds. Students from my club and lectures were thrilled to meet new people just as I was, and they were always happy to chat. It’s all very heartwarming, and has become something I look forward to every time I step on campus.

I learnt that you shouldn’t worry about being in a new environment. I once was nervous for feeling small in a big university, but I found that as you spend more time in HKU, it becomes smaller, and everything becomes easier.