Using Telegram: A University Student’s Starter Pack

Upon entering university, one would quickly realise that Telegram has become the staple communication platform for most university students and groups. While Telegram may feel foreign to many who had previously relied on the likes of Whatsapp and the Messaging app, it is a user-friendly tool that facilitates much of the activities and communication that goes on in school. Many university students have since turned to using Telegram as their main mode of communication since their onboarding! In this article, we endeavour to help you familiarise yourself with the uses and tools of Telegram, and hopefully ease you into the rhythms of university’s online experience.


Tele-Tip 1: Organise your chats

As the school term begins, it is likely that you would find yourself participating in an array of extra-curricular activities, events and engaging with multiple projects – soon, you are drowning in a blur of endless chat groups and messages that clog up your Telegram rapidly. One way of dealing with this is to produce for yourself an ‘organised-mess’ with the help of chat folders.

Go to ‘Folders’ under settings

Create or edit folders

Above is an example of how you could organise your chats in folders. Some ideas of folders could be an ‘Unread’ folder, a folder for interest groups (IGs), one for academic modules e.g. group project chat groups, etc. The key point here is to sieve out categories that would include multiple chats in their basket. 

The position of chat folders can be shifted too, so that most frequently used folders can be prioritised and placed at the front of the list, where they are visible and easily accessible.


Tele-Tip 2: Use ‘Saved Messages’ or channels as repositories 

One great hack is to use the ‘Saved Messages’ chat, or create a personal channel, to dump information for yourself (or for a specific few others, when it comes to channels)!

Collating materials for personal use through Saved Messages

For instance, sending files from one of your devices to another could prove difficult, especially if they are of different brands. However, you could easily send these materials to yourself through Telegram, and open the files from any device that you have downloaded Telegram on! This would be a fool proof method, for Telegram works on both mobile and desktop.

Channels are similar, in that they are typically used for the dissemination of information and materials. You could create a channel dedicated to a certain project, or even just for personal use, so that you can organise and collate information in one chat. Alternatively, you could create a channel to share information with friends or group mates! For instance, students going on exchange have chosen to create channels for their friends to subscribe to, so that they can share stories and photos of their adventures (and misadventures). 


Tele-Tip 3: Schedule messages, edit messages

Telegram makes it easy for users to plan out their messages, and make changes to their texts retrospectively. 

The schedule message function allows you to plan out messages and ensure that they are sent out at/by a certain time. To schedule a message, draft out your text first; right-click on the ‘send’ button (desktop), or press and hold the ‘send’ button (mobile). Afraid that you might oversleep and forget to send an important text out? Use this function to schedule your message beforehand, and allow yourself to catch some rest with complete peace of mind.

Schedule message function

Pop-up prompt to schedule message for a certain date and time

Made an error? You can also edit messages (that are not forwarded messages) by tapping and holding (on mobile) or right-clicking (on desktop) on them. Taking it further, you could completely delete a message if you decide that you no longer want it to be visible to the receiving party. Unlike the delete messages function in WhatsApp, Telegram allows for the deletion of messages with no traces of it left behind – except for the receiving party’s memory, if they have already read your text. 


Tele-Tip 4: Create polls

University students who participate in student-organised events and groups cannot escape the use of Telegram bots and polls. However, it could be a headache to navigate your way around using these features if it’s your first time.

Find the ‘Create poll’ option under the kebab menu (desktop)

To create a quick and simple poll, navigate to the kebab menu (desktop) or the file/attachment icon (mobile). The functions of this in-built poll are typically sufficient for multiple-choice polls to gauge interest or opinions for a certain prompt. Certain poll customisation options to note before sending your poll out would be the ‘anonymous’ function, for responses to remain anonymous, and the ‘multiple options’ function, for the poll to function as checkbox options rather than single-choice options. 

If you wish to create slightly different polls than that offered by Telegram’s in-built function, consider using Telegram bots! One popularly used bot is the @countmeinbot, which can be searched up easily through the platform’s search bar.

@countmeinbot options 

The bot is relatively intuitive and easy to use, as it guides users each step of the way.

Example of a Countmein poll

The polls can be published to any, and as many, chats that you wish to send them to. Names of respondents would be visible (upon them selecting an option) for all, which makes it easy for the collating of attendance for certain events!


Tele-Tip 5: Join useful channels

Telegram channels that disseminate relevant information

University life can get overwhelming, especially when it becomes a balancing act of juggling multiple interests and commitments outside of the classroom. Subscribing to relevant Telegram channels can ease this process, and ensure that you stay updated without having to actively seek out such information. 

Example of useful channels to subscribe to include news channels (e.g. The Straits Times), NUS channels and groups (e.g. The National University of Singapore group, NUS Lost and Found) and ‘lobang’ channels that are constantly updated with good promotions and perks (e.g. GoodLobang).


Tele-Tip 6: Privacy settings and restrictions 

Lastly, it is crucial to be attentive and cautious in our general use of social media/messaging platforms. Personal data and privacy has become a pertinent issue in this technological age – fortunately, Telegram provides extensive options for you to customise your privacy settings according to what you are most comfortable with. 

For example, you can restrict the visibility of your personal information, such as your contact number and ‘last seen’. Contact numbers are no longer crucial for messaging on Telegram, as all users are required to create a unique Telegram username, which allows them to be found and contacted by anyone else on the platform. As such, you can choose to make your phone number only visible to your contacts, or nobody at all. These options can be found in the ‘Privacy and Security’ settings on Telegram. Do adjust and play around with these settings to ensure that your experience on Telegram is best tailored to your privacy preferences! 

Note: a setting that many are increasingly turning to is to restrict the ‘Who can add me to groups and channels’ ability to contacts only.

Restrictive settings

It is likely that student leaders or event-organisers, many of whom may not be saved in your contacts, may want to add you to groups, especially when you first enter school or participate in certain activities. You might want to mention these privacy settings to the relevant parties (for they would not be able to directly add you to newly-created groups), so that they can send you an invite link to groups that you hope to join!

Overall, the list of Telegram’s functions is a non-exhaustive one.  While it can seem daunting to be thrown into using such an unfamiliar, but now widely-used, platform, we encourage you to adopt a positive learning mindset, and maximise the potential usages of this platform. Just from this article alone, you can see that it offers myriad usage areas, compared to many other messaging platforms.  For many students in university, Telegram has even become their main messaging platform! It is hence high-time for you to get in on the buzz surrounding this platform too. 

Ultimately, remember that such technology should be used as a tool to make our lives easier, rather than be a cause for greater headache. If you have found this article helpful, and perhaps have more tips to share, do post your thoughts on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife – we would love to hear them.


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