If you are heading to University soon, this post is for you!
Starting university is both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. You might be looking forward to all the crazy new adventures you will face but at the same time, that fear of the unknown is inevitably growing. Despite whatever is coming your way, this change will be good and will shape you into becoming an even better version of yourself.
One thing to note, everyone will have a different experience at Uni and just because your friend had an amazing or even horrible time, that don’t mean you will too. Keep an open mind about what people tell you but take in all the advice you can get. However, at the end of the day, only you can get yourself prepared and ready for the journey that, no doubt, will change you forever.
To all you new students heading to Uni after Summer, I wish you all the very best in what I’d describe as a roller coaster ride to obtaining your (hons) degree. See you at the finish line! xo
Let’s breakdown 10 things you should know before going to University.
#1 Do your research before choosing a course and University
This may seem obvious, but make sure you choose the right course for you and gather up all the facts and information you can get on both the course and Universities of your choosing. Even make pro and con lists (Rory Gilmore style) of each option to see what works best for you. After all, these choices are among the biggest decisions you will make in your life so choose wisely.
Despite some Universities being more elite than others that don’t mean that they should necessarily be your first choice. Yes, it’s great to go to the best University you can possible get into but make sure you actually choose the best Uni for your course. For example, University A might be more prestigious than University B but University B might be the number one Uni for your particular course. You catch my drift?
#2 Make sure your chosen course is one you’ll enjoy – despite the career prospects
Again, I will re-instate making sure you choose the right course for you. It doesn’t matter what your parents/friends/society etc. think about the course of your choosing because at the end of the day YOU are the one doing the degree – not them!
Close friends of mine and I have talked openly about times when the course we were currently doing might not be for us. This not only makes it very difficult along the road to obtaining the degree but it also puts even more unwanted pressure on yourself. However, things could change and you might find it was only a part of your course that you hated (this could most definitely happen) or you might just straight up think you made a bad choice early on and it was nothing like you expected. Even if that becomes you in years to come, there is always another option: don’t worry. If it does happen it could just make things a lot harder for you. So, that’s why I highly stress that you think long and hard about what is right for you. Once you make that commitment, the end goal of obtaining that degree is still a while away.
#3 You’ll make new friends, don’t fret
One of your biggest fears about beginning Uni could be: OMG, will I even make any friends? Yes, yes, you will. I promise. Just remember, that everyone is in the same position as you so you aren’t on your own. Also, these people chose this course just like you did so straight away you will have something in common that you can bond over. Quite quickly, you will see a group of friends forming and your worries over this will vanish.
I can even personally say that some of my closest friends to date are ones that I met in Uni. These people were my saving grace and got me through some hard times where I thought I wasn’t going to make it through the academic year. They brought joy and laughter, despite the high intensity of studying for a science degree, and made the whole experience even better.
Also, having fab pals while studying means you can share notes and help each other out when you struggle. If you find someone who isn’t too keen on helping you out when you need it, they aren’t truly a real friend. In my opinion, I would never let a friend or anyone in my course struggle with course-related stuff when they needed help (and couldn’t get it from a lecturer). So, you can tell them boy/girl, BYE! You truly don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
#4 Yes, it is going to be harder than school/college/other previous education or job
I’m going to keep it very real here. You want to know if it’s going to be more difficult from what you have previously done? You’re damn right it will be! Get ready to work super hard and study your life away for the next few years.
My advice to you, is keep on top of everything from day ONE! Yes, 1st year of your course might seem really easy to you but that doesn’t mean you should slack off. Get into good habits now because once you make it through each academic year, it’s only going to get harder. You don’t want yourself just sailing through 1st year, not really bothering, and then BOOM – the workload of 2nd year hits you when you least expect it. Despite all this, YOU CAN DO IT. No matter what, you got accepted into this course for a reason so don’t doubt that you cannot do it. Work hard, and you’ll see the results you deserve.
#5 Wave goodbye to your social life
Here I am keeping it real – again! Once you move up the years, the workload increases and the modules get harder. Be ready to wave goodbye to your social life. It might suck for a while but at least once all the hard work of doing coursework and studying for exams are over, you have all the time in the world to have fun.
I’m not saying you will never see any of your friends, I’m just saying don’t expect to be able to continue to do the fun things you want to do, especially at exam time. Wouldn’t it be better in the long run to take time out your social life in order to study and pass than go out all the time and then fail? I know (from experience) what I’d rather do.
#6 Grades don’t define who you are
Okay, let’s talk grades. This is one thing many students don’t always want to talk about (me included) but I just thought it was important to say a few things on this matter. Yes, getting the best grade is always what you should aim for. However, if you end up getting a bad grade, this is not an accurate representation of who you are. Don’t let one bad grade put you off and make you feel like a failure. Simply use this as a tool to work harder next time and learn where you went wrong with it.
If you find yourself continuously doing bad in coursework and exams – go get help! Whether that’s reaching out to one of your friends, lecturers, or any other person from the Uni, they will be able to give you good advice. My Uni even has a learning development center where you can go learn new study techniques and more, which can be highly beneficial if you find yourself not doing as well as you expected.
#7 There is a chance you might fail exams
This may be a hard thing to take in but you might end up failing an exam(s) once you start attending Uni. You may also find yourself never failing, which is amazing, but I really wanted to make sure you were aware that failing is a possibility. By having the right mindset and good work ethic, you can give yourself the best chance of exceeding well and obtaining great grades.
If you do end of facing a horrible situation where you end up failing an exam or exams, don’t just give up (check back to #6). Despite doing bad in one exam, you are not a terrible student. Learn from your mistakes and work hard to ensure you improve for next time. Get help from those around you and learn new techniques and hopefully you can avoid failing again.
From a personal experience of failing exams, I’ve hated myself for it. I felt embarrassed and even doubted if this was the right course for me. I then changed my attitude and worked even harder to ensure that I passed next time. I promise you: you will get through it. With the right frame of mind and support from family/friends/lecturers – you will get there in the end. Saying that, if you end up being one of those people who just want to change course, there are always options – seek help from a member of staff from your University.
#8 If you find yourself struggling, there is lots of help available on/off campus
PLEASE go get help if you find the stress of Uni taking over you. No matter what, someone will be there to help you. I understand that you might not want to talk to your parents or friends but there will be people specifically trained on and off campus to get you through it. Your University will probably have councillors that you can make appointments with to speak one-on-one to. They will give you the best advice and it might actually help ease some of your issues simply with talking it out with someone. If you can’t stand the thought of physically speaking to someone, look online as there are lots of resources which can help you there. However, I personally do think you shouldn’t suffer alone. By reaching out to at least one person, that can be a great help.
I really think that more should be done for the mental wellbeing of students. I don’t think some people truly understand the pressures we face while studying and that weight can became too heavy to carry at times. It’s time to beat the stigma and re-enforce that mental health is a real issue and no one should suffer alone. Again, I state, please go get help if you find yourself struggling to cope while at University (even if the problems arised from a non-course related issue).
#9 Try to get as much work experience as you can alongside your academic studies
You may be lucky and get to do placements that are integrated into your course. However, if you don’t, that shouldn’t stop you from going out there and trying to get work experience off your own back. Heck, if I was an employer and I saw you took initiative to go organised such things yourself, I’d be more inclined to hire you.
Not only will work experience help you make good connections in the real life world, you’ll also hands on get to see exactly what you’ll be doing in the job. This is very important as you could end up not actually liking what you’ll be doing and it might prompt you to switch careers. All in all, I think it is very important to get yourself out there and gain all the experience as you can. After all, it’s going to look amazing on your CV.
#10 Not everyone will know what they fully want to do once their education is finished
Here comes the big scary question people get asked when they are nearing the end of their degrees: What are you going to do once you graduate? Some might jump at joy at this and happy share all their hopes and dreams for the future. Others might simply have zero clue. I want you to know you could be either and none of them is wrong.
Don’t worry if you have no idea what career path to go down once you finish up Uni, you have plenty of time to figure that out. The main thing is just making it through to graduation and finally having your degree. The world is your oyster and no matter what you choose, I’m sure you’ll eventually figure it out and be in a career you truly are happy in.
Zina (purefandom guest writer)