With freshers week lurking around the corner and the next academic year in the mist, here’s my guide to University. Enjoy!
1) Choose the right course for you
It’s all well and good having a constructed dream about what you want to do when you grow up, however if you don’t feel 100% dedicated or excited about your course then there’s no real point in doing it. It’s not like college or GCSE options where you chose the same course as your friends just because you didn’t want to sit on your lonesome. If you don’t like it, move on. Changing courses within the first couple of weeks of uni is extremely easy. It’s better to do it sooner than later. You don’t want to be graduating with a degree you have absolute no interest in.
2) Use your money wisely, DO NOT GET A CREDIT CARD WHATEVER YOU DO.
I was the worst person with money before I headed to Cardiff. I was so used to having money that when I first came to university I spent it on the most stupidest things. I once spent £20 on Sea Monkeys for our flat in halls. WHY?! Anyway, unlike home, money only accumulates once a term. It’s well and good living like a King for a week, but that week does not make up for the months of gauging on 50p Pizzas from Tesco. You have ‘adult’ things to pay for now. Budget yourself and do not spend £60 on jagerbombs in Glam, you can’t afford to. I always found paying for things like rent in advance worked wonders with me. I knew when and where I was coming and going.
The most easiest job to go into whilst studying is bar work. I always told myself I wasn’t going to bother working whilst in uni, however unfortunately student loans do not stretch as far as you think. I’ve worked in a pub since first year and I’ve found that the shifts are easily flexible around study time. Know your limits though. There’s no point working every hour under the sun and letting your degree become second priority. Luckily for me my work are so understanding and supportive when it comes to university commitments. Most are, however do not let people make a fool of you. You’re here initially to get a degree. Extra money is good but not when it makes your degree suffer.
4) Letting Agencies – Know your rights
Letting agents are not friends. When looking for somewhere to live make sure it is habitable. Letting agencies have a tendency of messing students over with damp, mold etc. In my second year house we had dry rot in our house. We lived in a building site for 2 months still paying full months rent. Do not go with a place just because it’s cheap. Yes do not go for somewhere that you cannot afford, however ask the right questions, think about your decision and make sure it’s a place you’ll feel comfortable. Letting agents are pushy, don’t let them intimidate you into a decision. DO NOT SIGN FOR A HOUSE YOU HAVEN’T SEEN.
I sound like a complete prude, however do not drink more than you can take. Do not crush under peer pressure. It’s well and good downing a bottle of Jager and being the no 1 ‘lad’, but if that leaves you in hospital or in a very dangerous situation, you’ll regret it. You don’t want to be known as the girl who got naked in a nightclub do you? or the guy who is now riddled with STD’s. It’s well and good having fun however safety is key. You need to remember that you are studying a course to become a professional and no future employer is going to like typing your name into google and finding that explicit image of you touching yourself in a nightclub swimming pool. It may make you famous for 5 minutes however it will have repercussions and you will be absolutely devastated.
6) Try doing as much Work Experience as you can
I study Journalism, therefore work experience is an absolute crucial factor for my degree. Do as much as you can, get contacts, get known and build yourself as a brand. University is all about selling your talents and building up a portfolio for your future. Get out there, get known because when it comes to finally graduating and entering ‘real world’, you’ll be left at the bottom of the heap. It’s well and good having a degree, however you need to show what you’re capable of. Work experience shows how interested you are in the field you want to go into too.
7) Find your talent
Find what you’re good at and use it to your advantage. When it comes to graduating, employers are looking for difference. What separates you from the rest? and No, I do not mean a talent of how many guys or girls you can neck in Live Lounge or how many vodka shots you can do to the eye.
8) Admit defeat when needed, people are not going to judge you
This is the most important thing. If you ever feel like everything is just jumping on top of you and you cannot cope, there is help. It’s okay to admit defeat. My time at university has probably been the hardest of years for me. I had too much pride to admit defeat until now. I had to resit my first year due to my mum having a stroke and this year I am basically studying one module to take a break from uni and to sort myself out. It’s good graduating within your 3 years, however do not feel like a failure if you have to resit a module or even a year. There’s no point in studying for your degree within that time limit if you’re not capable of achieving your best. Personal circumstances occur and life does unfortunately run off course. That does not make you a failure. Take your time, do what’s achievable. There’s no point graduating with a degree that does not show your full potential. Look after yourself, yes your degree is extremely important but your mental and physical health comes first. There’s no point cutting yourself short because of life’s lemons. Things do get better and there are plenty of people to turn to when things get tough. Speak to your course leader or lecturer, they were extremely thoughtful and supportive in my case. Speak to your employer or your university student services, there’s more people willing to listen than you think. Take a break if you need to, you’re not going to think straight or do your best when you’re not well yourself.
9) Change is inevitable and its not necessarily bad.
Change is inevitable. There will be people that you drift from. I talk to a mere handful of people that I grew up with, not through bad circumstances but just because we’ve all gone off and done our own thing. That’s okay. It’s alright to find new friends, new hobbies and it’s okay to change as a person. That’s what the experience does to you. You find yourself and that’s okay. It is true that you find friends for life while at uni.
10) Sleep as much as you can!
No honestly, all nighters will come like a tonne of bricks in the final term. You will not get much of it being a student so make the most of it. I’ve rolled into uni in my pjs before just because of sheer lack of kip.
AND MOST OF ALL
11) Have the time of your life
University is such a fun chapter in your life. Make the most of it. Make as many friends, make some enemies, party hard, study hard and most of all be yourself doing it. University is one of the best experiences of your life therefore use it wisely.