My Top 10 Tips for First Years
1) Don’t worry about making friends, just be yourself!
You will meet people from various different places during your first year, be it from your Halls, your fellow course mates, people in the same sports clubs and societies as you and even people on nights out so don’t be scared or worried about making friends. Also, don’t worry about making friends if you don’t drink or party as there will be many people like you who will enjoy a quiet night in! Just be yourself and you will soon find yourself surrounded by different friends.
2) Don’t blow your student finance in the first week – learn how to budget
I know that having a big chunk of money from student finance may seem like an excuse to spend it all really quickly but many first year students struggle later on when they haven’t budgeted enough for the rest of the term! Try to work out a rough budget of how much you will be spending per week or per month and try to stick to it as closely as you can. You might also want to save some money aside just in case of an emergency (for example, your laptop or printer might break) so that you will be able to buy a replacement.
3) Don’t try to write down everything your lecturers say – learn to write quick notes, you’ll be surprised at what you can remember from the top of your head
When I first started note taking in lectures, I tried in vain to jot down every single word that my tutors were saying. In reality, all I ended up with was an achey wrist and half finished sentences that didn’t make much sense! You only really need to jot down key words, names, phrases and topics and try to write in abbreviations or some sort of shorthand form to save you more time. You will actually recall a lot of what was said if you are paying close attention at the time and will only need to skim over your notes for revision.
4) Always check your emails and make sure they are easily accessible
You may not use your email very much before staring university but you will need to check it regularly during term time. There may be venue, room or tutor changes, notifications of certain opportunities, reminders of essay deadlines and other general important information that you will need to know throughout your study so make sure you have your university emails readily available on your phone or laptop. I would recommend having them available on your phone as some changes can be short notice!
5) Be prepared for independence – lecturers will not chase you up
Unlike at school or college, university lecturers will not chase you up for not turning up to lectures or seminars or for not doing the set work. You are in charge of your own study schedule and it will be up to you to do the readings, work, essays and presentations. However, if you miss out on too many lectures or seminars, miss an essay deadline or have any other serious monitoring points, tutors will cap the percentage or marks you can receive for an assignment or module which can change your overall marks quite drastically so there are serious consequences for taking too much of an advantage of your independent study time.
6) Don’t expect it to be easy, university level learning and writing can be challenging
You may be used to being able to breeze through your studies without having to put too much effort, revision or time into it but university is a big step up from anything you may have done before and it is not always easy to keep up. Essay writing is a lot more challenging and you have to learn the correct way of writing, formatting, editing and referencing. Lectures can have complicated concepts and can be very fast paced so you have to taper your learning style to get the most out of them. Your first year is your chance to learn how to perform at university level so expect to struggle at times and learn from your mistakes!
7) Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling
Alongside the last point, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are struggling with anything. Your tutors are there to help you so don’t feel intimidated by them or feel that they are unapproachable. Your personal tutor, mentor, as well as the other people on your course may also be able to help you out with the academic side of things. There is also help for health, mental health and emotional issues from many sources around campus and careers advisors for careers advice so ask if you need it!
8) Be prepared for early morning fire alarms (and for the culprit to have burned toast) as well as some noisy sleepless nights
Fire Drills and random rude awakenings become fairly common in your life at Halls. Fire alarms often strike in the early hours of the morning and you will have to drag yourself out of bed, wrap your dressing gown around you, stick your slippers on and march outside with the other zombie students only to be told that someone burnt their late night munchies or set their room on fire with unattended incense before rolling your eyes and crawling back into bed. Food theft is also a common occurrence as well as being woken up in the middle of the night by rowdy students coming in from a night out and messing around in the corridors.
9) Napping will become a part of your life
Although you probably haven’t gotten into the habit of taking naps since you were a toddler, napping becomes a necessity during your time at university despite doing less subjects and time in lessons than ever before. After an all nighter of reading or typing, a particularly boring lecture or a heavy tasty meal your nap time will arrive and you will find yourself either waking up fairly soon after feeling awake and revitalised or four hours later wondering what happened and feeling groggy for the rest of the day. Napping is a very dangerous sport!
10) First year doesn’t count, but try not to miss out on too much!
Your first year will be the most laid back time of your university life. It is when you will learn the most, hopefully learn from your mistakes, meet the most people, have the most opportunities available to you and it will be the time where you can get the most out of university in terms of studying and partying. Try not to miss too many lectures and seminars but equally, make the most of your time to go out and meet people, join a sports club, join societies, learn new skills and enjoy your new environment and freedom!
Thanks for reading!