Common Myths about University
When I was at High School and Sixth Form, many of my teachers told me that going to University was far easier than doing A-levels. While that may seem logical, as you are often doing only one subject much more intensely, the truth is that University life is very different to anything you will have done before. You have to learn how to manage your time and assignments well in order to balance your studies alongside looking after yourself by eating well, keeping in shape, doing fun activities as well as trying to get work experience, doing internships or part-time jobs to boost your CV. University, while perhaps less academically straining than your time at High School, Sixth Form or College, is much more of an emotional, mental and physical strain and it can certainly take a while to find your feet and it is even more difficult to adjust if you are studying a subject that you have no experience of beforehand, like me. However, don’t think of University as a negative experience, it has been the best experience of my life so far! It just takes a bit of time for you to settle in and learn how to get the most out of your time, opportunities and unparalleled experiences there.
I must admit, as soon as it started to get close to me starting at Warwick, me and my mum saw it as a huge excuse to go shopping and buy the most useless and obscure things ever. Most of the stationery I bought are things that I have never used and most books that you may require can be borrowed from the library or bought very cheaply online when you have a reading list rather than haphazardly buying any book that seems related to your course. As with the stationery, I bought a tonne of kitchen utensils, which again I rarely use so only buy and pack the essentials that you know that you will need and then buy things that you end up needing as you go along to avoid spending large amounts of money on useless items!
I am quite an introvert socially, so when it comes to making friends it often takes me a while to come out of my shell. Thus, I only made friends with the people in my kitchen and a few people on my course that I saw on a very regular basis (all of whom are very friendly by the way!). I even thought that the people from my kitchen would be the people that I wanted to live with but after falling out irreconcilably with one of them and then ending up going on my term in Venice with two flatmates on my course that I barely knew, I thought that I was going to hate my time in Venice and would struggle to find flatmates for my third year in off-campus accommodation. But, to my surprise, my Venice flatmates turned out to be amazing and lovely people that I now spend most of my time with on campus and will be living with next year. So, don’t think that if you’re an introvert that you will struggle to make friends or that the friends you make in the beginning will be your BFFs forever because sometimes it just doesn’t happen. You will make some amazing friends during your time at university from your course, halls or even random people on nights out so just be yourself and you’ll be fine!
As soon as second year accommodation starts to appear on your university website, there seems to be a manic rush by some students to find flatmates and pick a house in record time in the fear that they will run out of time, struggle to find people to live with or that there will be no decent housing available if they don’t act quick. This relates to my previous point, sometimes the people you think you want to live with don’t turn out to be what you thought they were, have other plans or even drop out so it isn’t always the best idea to rush into your second year accommodation. University accommodation also often gets houses added throughout the year and there are plenty of websites and agencies to go through so there will always be options in terms of housing.
While it is important to choose a course related to your future career ideas, you may have no idea what you want to do as a career and you may have a complete change of heart in the middle of your degree or after you’ve gotten some relevant work experience. So, I think that if you are passionate for your subject and degree, you can’t go far wrong. There are many different entry ways into different careers so don’t think you will be limited to certain jobs because of the subject of your degree as you will acquire many transferrable skills that will be applicable to many career paths.
This relates to the previous myth. If your degree relates to your future career plans, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, certain jobs require very specific arts or humanities degrees to attain so it may be the quickest and easiest path to take. But once again, any degree will involve many transferrable skills that will be applicable to many career paths so if you know that you will be enthusiastic about your degree and (mostly) enjoy your time studying it, you should get a good grade and have a very positive experience. There is no point in doing a degree purely because of peer pressure as you will not enjoy it and will probably not get a good degree at the end of your time at university.
I go home every weekend to see my boyfriend and my family. I’m very lucky that Warwick University is only a 50-minute drive or an hour and a half train ride away from home. For me, when I go home I can truly relax and enjoy my weekend and spend time with my loved ones before returning to campus to do my readings, work on my essays and go to my lectures and seminars. For many people, they choose to stay on campus throughout the year and many foreign students only return home during the holidays due to the distance. My point is, you will find a routine that works for you, whether that means going home every week, never going home or something in between. You will get what you want out of your time at University depending on what your interests are, some people prioritise their social lives and well-being, some are there purely to learn and study, some enjoy the sports side of things and others will do all of these as well as holding down a part-time job!
Many employers nowadays value a lot of work experience, so if you can juggle university alongside working part-time then you have a huge advantage. It is true that having the balance wrong could hugely affect your studies and well-being but it is not an impossible task to take on and would be very valuable in the future on your CV and will certainly help you out financially while studying. It may even be a positive outlet to forget about your studies, interact with different people for a while and focus on something else so I would definitely encourage you to at least have an open mind about having a part-time job.
At university, you are only as alone as you make yourself. While you definitely become much more independent and have to take control of your own studies, there is a huge support network all around you for when things start to go wrong. If you are struggling with the course content, workload, essays, presentations or exams, speak to your tutors! It is what they are there for and so many students say that they wished that they had spoken to them sooner regarding these things as their advice is invaluable. You can also talk to your personal tutor regarding things that are not necessarily course-related and I found that just talking about certain issues instantly lifted a weight off my shoulders. If you’re having issues with flatmates and accommodation on-campus you will have a resident tutor to express your concerns to. You can also talk to your friends on your course, your flatmates and any other friends you make and don’t ever forget about your family as they will always be there for you in your time of need. If none of these are options to you, there is also Nightline which is a student-run, confidential, non-judgmental peer support service that you can phone on ***** *** ***. So, there is no need to ever feel alone, there is always someone to talk to as long as you reach out to them!
As I have already stated, university is about so much more than just studying for your degree. It offers invaluable experiences and opportunities that you simply don’t get anywhere else. University has made me so much more independent, confident, strong and knowledgeable and has definitely made my social skills and anxiety much better. Before university, I suffered quite badly from stage fright but I have vowed to not let it get to me and can now do presentations without people even realising my fears. I have made some amazing friends and met so many lovely people who make my life happier and easier on a daily basis. I have learned so many interesting things and uncovered topics that are new interests to me that I wish to learn more about. I have travelled so much during my time at university, both for academic and personal reasons, which has enriched me as a person and highlighted different cultures to me. I can honestly say that university has changed my life for the better, there have been many ups and downs, but it has been an amazing experience so far and I still have another year to go!
Thanks for reading!