If you have had a piece of work returned to you and you were pleased with the result, terrific! If not, here are some thoughts to help.
First of all, you are not alone. Across Australia, a majority of students get lower marks in their first year at university than they got in Year 12. One reason is that students are being measured against a different cohort. You are being measured against people who have done well at school and gone on to university. This means that you can get worse marks without doing worse work.
The other reason is one that you can do more about. People take time to get their heads around new skills. University is different to school, and that is fine as long as we all recognise it. You need to do your best to figure out how it is different. And your tutors need to do their best to tell you. Bear in mind that it may be a while since some tutors were at school, so a lot of the figuring is up to you. It can take all year to do it.
That is okay because you have all year! The decisions other people make about your future are not based on your first year marks. Prospective employers and academics will look at your record of marks if that is important to their selection process. It is the later year marks that normally count in their decisions and invitations to do Honours are based on these. This does not mean you can afford to waste your first year. It means that you can use it to learn how to do as well as possible next year, without beating yourself up over mistakes on the way.
If you are not passing, lose the parties or see an academic skills adviser, whichever is more necessary. You will be the judge of that!
The above passage is an abridged exerpt from Getting your head around the BA by Dr Kate Chanock, La Trobe University.