How to breeze through your first year of university!
Going off to university is extremely daunting – you’re probably moving away to a different city, will no longer be living with your parents, you won’t get to see your friends all the time, and generally many things in your life will change. As humans we find change is scary, but change is good, just different.
Once you get over the fact you have to be an “adult” and do your own washing and cook your own meals, then you’ll realise university is a great experience and student life has many perks (I’m talking staying in bed until mid afternoon with zero judgement).
Fresher’s week tends to be a blur of welcome classes, nights out and meeting lots of new people, but here is some advice for when the fun and games of fresher’s is over and the university term kicks in.
First impressions count when it comes to meeting your course leaders, tutors and fellow students. The last thing you want is to arrive late and be flustered when entering your first class because you didn’t know, which bus to get on and then couldn’t find the right building. My advice is to know your timetable like the back of your hand and to make sure you know exactly how to get to your classes, whether that’s walking or on public transport. A great thing to do is to connect with some of your course mates on your university’s Facebook page and plan to meet early and make your way to your classes together.
Something I immediately learnt in my first year was the importance of organisation. Being organised throughout the year will help you survive the workload. When you’re independently in charge of your time, it can be tempting to leave assignments and essays until the last minute. However trust me this is something you’ll regret, when you’re in the library at 3am and the rest of your friends are all out enjoying themselves. Plan your time wisely and in the long run you’ll be less stressed and have more free time. You’ll also want to be organised when it comes to your money. It’s very easy to get swept up with the excitement of loan day, but I guarantee you’ll wish you didn’t blow your loan on that pair of shoes you *needed*, when you’re living off smart price noodles and baked beans.
A key piece of advice would be to challenge and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Join a society or sports team you’ve always been interested in but never quite dared to do. Say yes to extra-curricular activities you would usually say no to. Do that little bit more when it comes to your course. If your course doesn’t include a placement or work experience go out and find one anyway. This will score you some brownie points with your tutors (which you’ll be grateful for when it comes to them writing you a reference) and will enhance your CV tremendously.
Sometimes the fast-paced student life can become too much, leaving you stressed out and frazzled, which happens to the best of us. Universities have brilliant support systems in place for when this happens. If you feel like you want to talk to someone about anything, from homesickness to finance to career options, then contact your Student Union who will definitely be able to help you.
Mostly you should be positive and motivated – university is a life changing, enriching experience which will teach you many things. You’ll make mistakes, maybe you won’t get the grade you wanted on an essay, but remember you’re probably not the only one. Learn from each set back, to allow yourself to improve. You’ll meet a lot of new people, some of which you won’t get on with, which is okay, because others will become your life long best friends and you’ll make memories you’ll never forget.
Undergraduate Student, University of Sunderland