University seems a long time ago now, but it still feels very fresh. I started in 2007 and went to university in Sheffield to study Criminology and Psychology. I absolutely loved it, so much that I stayed on to then do a Masters degree. I thought as someone who’s been and done it all before, I’d offer some pearls of wisdom.
Make the effort to meet people:
You’re all in the same boat, for many it’s the first real time away from home, you’re probably all worried about what’s in store. I started university absolutely crippled with shyness which made it really hard for me to put myself out there and strike up conversations with people, luckily for me a group of girls from the floor above came to talk to me and invited me out with them, if they hadn’t I’d have been stuck. One of my closest friends is a girl I met on my course at university and even though she’s now hundreds of miles away in Scotland, we still talk and meet up regularly. If you do feel comfortable talking to people, do. It might be more reassuring than you know.
Don’t forget about home:
You’re out in the big wide world, if you’re like me, your mum will become your best friend. Phone her, phone your friends, let everyone know what you’re up to. They probably really miss you, and if you return home after the last 3 years, they’ll be there waiting for you.
Experience new things:
University is a great time to find new opportunities, such as having time for volunteering, travelling the world and meeting new people. Whatever opportunities come your way don’t just brush them off, go for it! It’s much harder to try and do those things when you re-enter the real world.
My love for organising went down well at university, I swore by my academic diary to keep track of what lectures and assignments I had, as well as planning ahead. I also kept ring binders to keep important information about each module in, which made revising much easier. Don’t leave assessments until the night before, you can’t concentrate and think logically after an all nighter, trust me. It also doesn’t give you time to revise and edit your assignments. If you make a plan ahead of time, about ideas and key points to raise in your essay, you’ll find writing the rest of the content much easier once you know the structure of it.
Study first, party later:
This is where my age is showing, but at the end of the day you’ve spent a lot of money (or racked up a lot of debt) to get your degree. By all means go and have fun, but remember the primary reason why you’re there is to study, don’t get into bad habits of picking a night out when you have early lectures or a deadline the next day. This leads me to my next point:
At university was the first time I had my drink spiked. Luckily nothing siniste happened, but it’s all too often that things do. Be safe. Stay in numbers, don’t wander off on your own, do not use it as your chance to experiment with drugs or to push the limit on how much you can drink. Out of control drunk girl is not a respectable one. Just remember you’re probably quite far from home.
3 years (or more stay on for a Masters/ PHD) seems like a long time but you’ll be surprised how fast it’s all over… so take photos to capture your memories! You’ll really miss it when it’s over. I love looking through photos from my student days, my ever changing hair colour from blonde to pink to blue, the spontaneous piercings, the random adventures.
Budget your money:
Being responsible with a set amount of money sure is a learning curve. If you’re like me and have a minor shopping addiction, your student discount card will become your best friend. Stores like New Look, Schuh and Topshop offer 10% off clothing if you flash your card, they also often do 20% off events too so keep an eye out and sign up to their newsletters! How I wish I still had student discount… Another point to raise is not everywhere makes it obvious if they give student discount, so when making a purchase, it’s worth cheekily asking if they accept student discount, you never know! Now’s also the time to start hunting for bargains in charity shops if you haven’t already, you’d be surprised as to what gems you can find.
If you don’t have a job whilst at uni; plan ahead, yes your loan may buy you a lovely new Michael Korrs bag, but you won’t have pay day at the end of the month! The same with food and drink, you don’t have to live off Tesco own noodles everyday, but equally keep track of how often you buy bottles of spirits and the cost of them, it soon mounts up.
Believe in yourself:
University is tough. You’re committing to studying one subject rather than splitting across 4/5 like at college. There are deadlines, you have to do independent reading and use your initiative, you’re not spoon fed the things you need to know, but you can do it.There will be times when you think you can’t possibly think of 3,000 words about a topic, you’ll probably feel like you don’t even know 3,000 words! It sounds corny but you really do just have to believe. If you’re finding things tough, talk to someone, your mum a friend even a lecturer. The drop out rate of university is so high in the first year, because we don’t have hindsight unfortunately to see the bigger picture and to be able to see that it really does get easier! But that’s why I’m telling you.
Whatever subject you’ve chosen, enjoy it. There will be dull modules and assignments will be stressful, but the feeling of utterly and immense pride when you walk across the stage in your graduation outfit is one that you will never forget. Savour every moment of it!
Going to uni? Got any questions? Feel free to ask me I’d be happy to help