What I wish I’d known as a first-generation University student. – OurWarwick

What I wish I’d known as a first-generation University student.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Emma Buckingham | Media and Creative Industries Contact Emma

Moving away from home is always tricky, especially when you have almost got no idea what you’re getting yourself into. In these situations, we tend to go to those closest to us, like a parental figure or sibling. But what do you do when they have no idea either? Here is a list of things I wish people had told me before I went to University as a first-generation student.

  1. Being a first-generation University student can cause a lot of emotions to come at once. Mainly a lot of pride and a lot of fear! It can be challenging for those of us whose family haven’t been in higher education to understand the university system and pick the right course and University for us. 
  2. Please make the most of your personal tutor. They’ll be course-specific and can help you with almost any questions or doubts you have. It’s important to nurture this relationship as they might end up writing a reference for you.
  3. Uni is what YOU make of it. Go to as many socials, societies and sports clubs as you can. Make sure to keep up to date with emails so you’re always aware of opportunities. These could be online events, work placements or applications to be a course rep.
  4. Look at your course speciations closely! As a student whose family hadn’t even gone to sixth form or college when it came to University, I had no idea what to expect. Figuring out if I prefered exam or coursework focused courses really helped in whittling down my choices. As someone who always struggled with exams, a coursework only course worked perfectly for me. Another thing when looking at your course, especially if it is a creative subject, is how much content is theory and how much is practical. Looking into what employers prefer is always a good idea. 
  5. There are some things you just really don’t need. Before coming to uni my mum packed me with as many tide pods as she could, all for me to realise that most of the washing machines came with detergent. Watch a couple of university packing videos or see if any friends have siblings who could give you some tips. The packing list may be University or accommodation specific, so don’t feel scared to get in touch with someone already there. Warwick have packing lists on their website. It’s well worth having a look!
  6. Uni is an amazing place to meet people from all different backgrounds. But it can cause some imposter syndrome as you’ll probably end up seeing some people already successful in their subject area. Something to remember here is that no matter your educational background or your family, you got your place and deserve it. 
  7. Try and get your second-year university housing sorted in the first term. Think carefully about who you want to live with, really try to get to know them before signing an 11-month contract.
  8. Look at scholarships and bursaries, especially if you’re a first-generation University student. Here is the link to Warwick’s scholarship opportunities, but don’t be afraid to look outside University for them too. https://warwick.ac.uk/services/wss/studentfunding/funding/fundingyourstudies/otherfundingopps 
  9. Don’t be afraid to call on your support system back home. Whilst it’s important to engage in the early weeks to make friends and be available for socials, don’t forget to speak to or visit the friends and family you’ve left at home.
  10. Set up a student bank account, and work out your overdraft. When applying for uni, I knew I wanted not to have an overdraft. However, getting a student bank account comes with a lot of perks. They tend to give out incentives like railcards or gift vouchers. Whilst it’s important to look at your budget, try not to get too stressed over the specifics, it’ll all come to you in time. Equally, looking at the Money Saving Experts website should help. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/funding-uni/

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Emma Buckingham | Media and Creative Industries Contact Emma

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