This article was written by an external contributor. Sam Ramsden has some top tips to any prospective students before university.
Having recently completed a degree at university, I’ve had time to reflect on my time as a student. I’ve also had time to think about what I would’ve done differently. Looking back on my experience was both rewarding and frustrating, and there are many things I wish I’d have known prior to becoming a student. So, here are ten pieces of advice for anyone who is starting university.
Be socially active
The social aspect of university is probably one of the most daunting things for many people. Will you make friends? Will your peers and flatmates like you? The answer is most likely yes to both, however it never hurts to put in some extra effort to be social. Especially if you’re an introverted and independent student. Go to events and meet-ups, strike up conversations with your course-mates and don’t be afraid to say “yes” to opportunities.
Make the most of your campus
On the subject of your campus, one mistake I made during the early days of my university experience was not properly exploring the entirety of my campus. When I eventually did, I found that I had been missing out on a lot. Most university campus’ are filled with brilliant facilities and resources, all of which are there to provide leisure and an improved learning environment. It’s a waste to not fully take advantage of them, so explore away!
Keep good attendance
We’ve all heard the stereotypes which surround students and their apparent lack of desire to attend lectures (let’s not get started on those 9am starts). But in order to properly make the most out of the education you’re paying for, it’s very important to ensure you attend every lecture and seminar as often as you can. If you get into the habit early, you’ll be thankful when final year rolls around.
Don’t throw in the towel
One thing many university newcomers might be tempted by during the first few months is to simply give up. The major lifestyle changes, sometimes overbearing amount of work and worries about the future can all contribute to a desire to throw in the towel and call it quits. But try your best to stick through it, and consider all your options carefully before making this drastic decision. Things can improve!
Even though the main focus of university life should centre around your studies, groups and societies can also be a great opportunity to get involved in. Taking on extra-curriculum activities might sound a tad overwhelming, but getting involved in societies has many benefits. It can broaden your circle of friends, give you brand new skills and even help improve your employability! Try something new, you never know where it might lead.
Plan for the future
Once all the assignments have been completed and semesters comes to an end, the realisation that there is life after university can be a pretty intimidating experience. Living on your own, deciding on a career and searching for graduate jobs are all incredibly daunting things. So in order to best prepare yourself for the end of university, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your future early on. Speak to careers advisers, tutors and your friends. Get as much advice as you can!
Getting critique on your work is not always the nicest experience, especially if you take things to heart. But feedback is sometimes instrumental to success. Although the workload during your studies is intended to be more independent than your high school days, getting help and varying opinions from your teachers is definitely something every student should look for as often as possible. If you know what to improve on early on, then it may benefit you when it comes to writing your dissertation.
Give your opinion
On the subject of being assertive at university, another aspect of that is not being afraid to voice your opinions. As previously mentioned, higher education is a different ball game to your school days. So if something doesn’t sit right with you, whether that be an unfair grade or inadequate teaching, you should speak out. Your union should offer ways to get in touch, so don’t feel like you have to keep quiet.
Watch the pennies
Perhaps one of the more obvious pieces of advice every new student should take is to properly manage money. Yes, students sometimes enjoy the thrill of receiving a much welcomed student finance payment. But that cash will quickly disappear – and if you’re reckless, you could get into some serious problems. You can save by sticking to buying the absolute essentials, or opting out of the odd night out. Make sure to keep an eye on what’s in your account so you don’t get into a pickle!
Even though most people will advise you to be a serious student who focuses solely on work, remember to have fun. There will be times when you’re consumed with worry of deadlines and trepidation about what the future may hold. But there’s so much more to university, including the societies, the nights out and making new friends. Relish your freedom as a student!