• What study skills did you find most effective and least effective?
  • Are you learning or just making good grades?
  • Do you tend to stay within your comfort zone?

1. Declare your First Major

After exploring your potential major in your first year, you should already have some ideas about your major selection. Now is the time for you to declare your first major. Pay attention to the deadline set by your Faculty Office. The steps to declare your major on SIS are simple. Read these tips external link icon if you need help.

2. Use Degree Audit to keep track of your studies

Do you know if everything is on the right track with your studies? Run the Degree Audit in SIS to check your progress now. It is a comprehensive system to help you monitor your progress in fulfilling study requirements.

To access “Degree Audit”, go to HKU Portal > SIS Menu > Academic Records > My Degree Audit. There’s also a User Guide for reference external link icon.

3. Try “What If” when selecting minor / second major

Aside from your first major, you can also use your remaining credits to study for a second major (72-96 credits) or a minor (36-48 credits). Please click here for a complete list of all major / minor programmes that are open to non-home Faculty students. You can use the “What-if” Function in “Degree Audit” of SIS to see how you should fulfill your credit requirements when going for different combinations of major / minor programmes.

4. Review your academic performance

Were you happy with your results in year one? Well, everything was new to you, from curriculum design, programme structure, course learning outcomes, to assessment methods! The study methods you used in secondary school might not be suitable for university learning anymore. You might be more accustomed to individual study, however, now there are more collaborative learning opportunities, such as study groups and team projects. Don’t be shy to discuss with your FAA or AASO adviser how to cope with studies in a more effective and less stressful manner. You could also learn from the first-hand experience of your seniors who encountered similar challenges like you do. See videos “Tips for the right startexternal link icon and “Exam strategiesexternal link icon produced just for you!

5. Plan for study abroad

Studying abroad can surely broaden your horizons! There are 4 main options for studying abroad:

  1. Exchange Programmes (HKU Worldwide Undergraduate Student Exchange Programme (HKUWWW) through the International Affairs Office (IAO) / Faculty-level exchange programme)
  2. Worldwide Plus Visiting Programmes
  3. Short-term Abroad Partnerships
  4. Short-term Abroad Opportunities

You can get a lot of useful information from the Study Abroad Fair and briefing sessions organised by IAO, which are usually conducted in September each year. Take a look at IAO’s events and calendar external link icon to get a rough idea of the approximate dates. Also check the courses offered by the host institutions and plan for credit transfer. Feeling a bit confused? Take time to look at the 3-minute online briefing for exchange prepared by AASO.

6. Enrich your University life

Seize the time in university to try something new. Consider gaining different experiences to enrich your university life, for example, joining HKU Mentorship Programme external link icon or getting involved in running student societies. Diversifying your exposure and honing your soft skills will make you more competitive. According to career consultants at CEDARS, GPA is not the only thing employers look for.

Is the GPA the Most Important?

GPA is only one of the many aspects employers look at during the screening process. Although some do use the GPA for initial screening if they have too many applications to handle, it is not the figure that matters. Instead, it is how the GPA reflects a student as a potential employee – good GPA demonstrates effective time management and self-discipline, especially if they have also participated in many other activities.

What Do Employers Look for in Fresh Graduates?

Apart from the GPA, employers look for technical skills, relevant knowledge (hard skills), and soft skills in candidates when making hiring decision. According to a recent survey, the top 10 qualities (soft or transferable skills) that they look for in fresh graduates are: (i) Reliability; (ii) Responsibility; (iii) Communication skills; (iv) Positive attitude; (v) Team work; (vi) Problem solving; (vii) Work ethic; (viii) Adaptability; (ix) Dedication; and (x) Integrity.

7. Apply for scholarships

HKU offers different types of scholarships. Apart from financial assistance offered to students with financial difficulties, there are also merit-based scholarships and enrichment scholarships. There is a “General Round” of scholarship applications now which means you can apply for over 40 scholarship schemes by filling out ONLY one online form. For details, please look at: https://aas.hku.hk/apply-scholarships/. Meanwhile, you can also look at AASO’s 3-minute online briefing for scholarships preparation.

8. Look for experiential learning opportunities in Hong Kong and beyond

Apart from CEDARS which offers a wide range of services and internship programmes, do you know that HKU Horizons external link icon hosts a vast range of mainland and international learning opportunities such as service experience and research internship? Don’t miss out these valuable opportunities to learn beyond Hong Kong! Under the Credit Award Scheme for Out-of-classroom Learning Experiences external link icon, you may get credits (up to 6) for participating in these activities and approved ones organised by yourself, as well as serving as Faculty Student Advisers / Residential Student Advisers (see details). For experiences not less than 20 hours, one credit will be awarded. For experiences involving 50 hours or more, two credits will be awarded. Although these credits will not be counted towards your graduation requirement, they will be recorded in your transcript in blocks of three.


  • Transfer exchange credits – You might need to defer your graduation if you cannot transfer credits from your exchange. Hence consult your programme director / Faculty course selection adviser about the courses you wish to take during the exchange. Plan for alternative courses in case your intended courses are not being offered. Some Faculties have credit transfer database listing past credit transfer records for reference. Don’t forget to check the credit conversion table to determine the number of courses that you need to take at the host university. If you have doubts about this, consult your Faculty Office.
  • Be careful with FY courses – Check your syllabus ahead of time whether you have FY (full-year) compulsory courses in year 2, 3 or 4. You would not want to commit to a semester-long internship or exchange and subsequently be unable to complete the FY course.


Tsoi Yat Fei Jeffrey (BSocSc, Year 2)
photo of Tsoi Yat Fei Jeffrey (BSocSc, Year 2)

Hello, I would like to share with you some of my experiences and insights from the past 2 years.

Please make friends! Friends will not only bring fun to your university life, but also facilitate and help you in the learning process. There are many resources at university, but you will need to take initiative to find them yourself. At the same time, students need to adjust to a new learning and living environment. If you have friends from different backgrounds, they can provide you with a wide range of perspectives and information that may be just what you need in an effortless way. You can also share the information you have acquired so that you guys can help out each other.

Secondly, I would strongly advise you to step forward and ask your tutor or professor any questions you may have. The difficulty I encountered in the first semester of my second year of study was that the course content became more difficult, giving me a hard time to understand the content. At first, I spent a lot of time trying to comprehend and find the answers on my own, but this was very unproductive and tiring. Then I plucked up the courage to ask my teacher and I quickly understood and got the answer. You can ask your teacher questions in class or via email. I am sure that if you are polite, they will be happy to help you.

There is so much more to share about university life. If you have any questions about university life, I would like to recommend AASO, where I have had many of my questions clarified. I would like to wish you all a wonderful and fulfilling university life, where you can learn and grow.

Cheng Yu Tak Alexzander (BA, Year 2)
photo of Cheng Yu Tak Alexzander (BA, Year 2)

What I love the most about HKU is the flexibility and diverse choices it offers to student. As a BA student, I can study a second major in Biological Sciences which is completely irrelevant to my Arts major. This provides me with a wider range of career choices and knowledge from different spectrums. With such an aggressive (and somewhat unconventional) study plan, I have developed a versatile and inventive mindset to tackle courses requiring fundamentally different abilities.

Time management also becomes an indispensable skill. If I had a second chance, I would start earlier with my assignments, especially essays which require lots of preparation. Some Science courses don’t even have regular lectures and students are expected to watch the lecture videos on their own (during the Covid-19 online learning period). I would have performed much better had I not begun watching them only a week before my exam! I admit that I am still building self-discipline and beating procrastination.

Nevertheless, I am excited to go on exchange in Year 3 and enjoy university life in another country. I am also intent on pursuing research postgraduate studies and all the talks/ seminars organized by the University have been extremely informative. I want to thank HKU and the AASO for offering me so much help and useful advice throughout my study. I will work hard to achieve my goals and continue to strive for excellence.