1. Set achievable goals:

During your days at HKU, you might encounter many challenges. Goals can help focus your actions in the right direction and keep your study on track. They have to be specific, achievable, measurable and with a time frame. Creating a daily “to-do” list is a great idea!

[Further Reading: University of Southern California: Goal setting your way to academic success]

2. Go to class:

It is simple enough, isn’t it? However, since you no longer have a “set” class time table as in high school, you might face the temptation of skipping classes when you have more “freedom” in university. Remember, once you start skipping your first lecture, it is easy to get into this habit and hard to stop. Never give yourself excuses to skip a class!

[Further Reading: Smart Student Secrets: Skipping Class Or Showing Up – When To Do What]

3. Manage your time and yourself:

Maintaining study/life balance in university is very important. It is not easy with millions of things competing for your attention and energy. To strike a good balance, always prioritize your tasks, plan actions and organize your time effectively. Don’t forget to reserve some “me-time” or treat yourself after achieving the planned tasks.

[Further Reading: My tutor: Managing a Good Work/Life Balance in University; The University of Dublin: Self-Management]

4. Sharpen your reading and writing skills:

In University, you will be assigned substantial amounts of reading. Apparently, you have to read fast; at the same time, you also need to read between the lines, relate ideas to one another, as well as making connections and comparison. Furthermore, since English is the lingua franca at HKU, the ability to write and communicate effectively in English is crucial. If you encounter any problems, approach the Centre for Applied English Studies (CAES) for support and help.

[Further Reading: The University of New South Wales: Tips for Effective Reading; University of Cumbria: Writing at University]

5. Think critically:

Unlike in high schools, you will be expected to deal with a lot of questions that sometimes do not have a single answer. It is very important for you to think outside the box and develop your critical thinking abilities. Instead of repeating what your professor has already told you, try to apply what you have learnt, think about different approaches, evaluate the credibility of information you obtained and develop your own argument. It is not uncommon to have a number of possible solutions which depend on situations.

[Further Reading: The University of Edinburgh: Critical Thinking]

6. Ask questions:

Get into the habit of asking questions. At university, information is always cumulative. If you don’t understand A, it is hard for you to understand B. Therefore, if you have any questions in mind, do have them answered as soon as possible, whether by asking your instructor after class, through email, appointment, or discussing them with your peers. Sometimes, tackling ill-defined problems and learning how to ask the right questions are already a pivotal part in your learning journey.

[Further Reading: Sara Briggs: Learning to Ask Better Questions: 12 Tricks]

7. Take notes and review notes:

Before attending the lecture, familiarize yourself with the topic that it is going to cover, for example, finish the assigned readings. This will enhance your understanding of the lecture. During class, try to write clear and complete notes as this will help you process the information you are learning. Also, keep an eye out for repetition. If you notice that your teachers mention something twice or more, it should be something very important. After class, do squeeze some time to review your class notes.

[Further Reading: College Info Geek: How to Take Better Notes: The 6 Best Note-Taking Systems]

8. Find study partners:

You need companions on your study journey. For each course, make friends with at least one classmate (better to have more) whom you could study with. Working with classmates encourages an interactive environment to keep you engaged, test each other on the course’s contents, deepen your understanding of the course and provide mutual support. In fact, with the development of different social media and mobile devices, it is quite easy to study in groups, at least on an online platform.

[Florida National University: 10 Reasons Why You Should Form a Study Group]

9. Access support:

There are so many people at HKU who are here to help you excel in studies. In Faculty, you have Faculty Academic Advisers and Faculty Student Advisers (some have peer mentors or senior students from the student societies). In Halls or Colleges, you have Residential Student Advisers. To explore major/ minor options, you have Temporary Academic Advisers. Of course, we, at the AAO, are also more than happy to help you with academic planning. Apart from advisers, you can get support from your Faculty Office, CEDARS and Subject Librarians who assist students to search information on different subjects. View this to learn how to personalize library tools in your Year 1.

[Further Reading: Campus Resources and Useful Contacts]

10. Understand plagiarism:

To put it simply, 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 also includes self-plagiarism, that is, the unacknowledged use of your own previous work(s), for example, your works/ papers for other courses. Any student who commits plagiarism is liable to disciplinary action which can result in very serious consequences – including expulsion from the University. Some students committed plagiarism without knowing it. They got warning letters from Faculties and even fail grades. To avoid this happening to you, we strongly advise you to understand thoroughly what plagiarism is and the use of tools such as Turnitin.

[The University of Hong Kong: What is Plagiarism; The Good Universities Guide: How to avoid committing plagiarism]