University can be an entirely new experience and it can be difficult to know where to begin. With this in mind, I thought I’d share my tips for a successful first year. Remember that there are different kinds of success (e.g. personal, academic) and success means something different to everyone. This is just from my own experience.
1. Attend all your lectures and classes. This should sound obvious, but class attendance can dwindle towards the end of term as people get more settled in and are perhaps lacking the motivation they once had. It’s also easy to be more relaxed in first year because (for Sociology at least) your grade in first year does not currently contribute to your overall degree grade. However, currently the first year still needs to be passed overall, along with a range of core (compulsory) modules. You will likely find that what you study and the skills you acquire in the first year will form the foundations for your subsequent years, so it is important. Furthermore, from my experience, modules typically cover a wide range of content, so good attendance is needed to make sure you can stay on top of the workload. However, if you have a valid reason for missing class (such as illness), from my experience staff are usually approachable and willing to help.
2. Build your network. There are so many opportunities on campus, so it’s great if you can try and make the most of them from the start. If, like me, you’re quite a goal orientated person, set yourself short and long-term goals and then work on taking steps towards them. Using the networks available to you on campus can help you do this. For instance, it might be helpful to you to book a careers advice appointment to discuss your interests and possible options, or you could join a society to meet new people, make friends and hone skills that could be invaluable for you in the future. The earlier you’re aware of opportunities the better, as then you can avoid the disappointment of missing out.
3. Try to establish a routine. Once you get your timetable, it will be easier to do this. Even though every day at university might be different, getting into a routine (for instance figuring out when you study best, regulating your sleep and eating habits) will help you to feel settled and productive, as well as ‘normalise’ being at university as opposed to home. If you don’t find routine particularly helpful and you prefer to do things more spontaneously, that’s okay too. I would say you at least need to organise your time well to avoid the dreaded last minute essay panic! There is also going to be some degree of change, but learning how best to adapt to it is an important skill (that I haven’t yet mastered!). You can find a blog post I wrote with advice on how to organise your time effectively here: https://our.warwick.ac.uk/managing-your-time-at-university/
I hope you have found these tips helpful. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.