I know I wasn’t. I wrote the other day in my post “You’ll Be Okay, I Promise” about how I very nearly didn’t get into University last year. I did eventually get accepted (two weeks after results day) and I haven’t looked back ever since. But this is going to be a post about getting ready for the last few weeks before you go. I’ll have a very different experience from a large percentage of you guys going off because for first year, I stayed at home with my parents.
I was 21 when I started and a lot of the other students had just turned 18 and all they wanted to do was party – that’s not my style, I didn’t go out for freshers and I loved what I did instead (stayed home and ate pizza with my dog) so this isn’t going to be a post about “How To Survive Freshers Week” because I don’t know.
A lot of people tell me I’m not in the “real” student experience, but everyones experiences are different, unlike a lot of people I know, university isn’t about making lifelong drinking buddies and partying without repercussions from your parents – it’s about building a future for myself, so drinking isn’t going to be a part of that – but anyway! Let’s get started.
I’d honestly say the most important thing to do before your first day jumps on you is get organised. Buy yourself an academic diary (they go from July – June) and a notepad, not an A4, A5. You’ll want something to take notes on and somewhere to keep all of your assignment dates as well as any possible work placements you’ll be undertaking. I was the girl in first year that knew the dates for when things were due, what the assignments were and most other things as well, because I was organised and wrote everything down.
Another thing is to go digital. I took my Macbook Pro to university with me everyday (I drove to and from campus so I never worried about it), I understand a lot of people have heavier laptops/they don’t want to risk losing it/having it stolen, which is fine! But even then, when you get back to accommodation/home, put everything on your laptop. Lecturers will most probably upload all the presentations online anyway, just make sure you save them for your own reference because you don’t know when/where you’ll need to look at them.
This one is kind of personal to me, but it worked. Don’t focus on anyone else. I spent a lot of time hearing “all we need is 40%” which ended up pushing me down the path of not wanting to try too hard because all I needed was 40%, but don’t let yourself get to that point. I soon realised that if I coasted through first year I’d try and do the same for the rest of my time. So I worked hard and continuously got high 60-70% grades. It’s more difficult on some of my modules because there is group work, which isn’t graded individually (cry), so I found myself carrying others just to stop myself from coasting through the year.
Turn up to lectures. As much as you may not want to go to your 9am lecture, go. They may bore you at times but just go. I missed so many lectures in my first year and come the end of the year when more and more assingments were due I found myself struggling. I worked so much harder to get the grades because I didn’t know where to look or what to do at points – and if you do have to miss a lecture, don’t email your lecturers 10 minutes before, do it at least 24 hours before, it’s respectful and they’ll not hate you as much, I promise.
A big thing I learnt was to not underestimate the jump from college to university. A-Levels were all fun and games compared to what university is – not because of how hard all the modules are (don’t get me wrong, some of them are harder than others), but because for the first time in your student life, you’re on your own. You may be use to having first, second, third drafts of essays, knowing before you even hand in the final draft it’s basically perfect. When you hand in an essay at university, you pray you have at least written about the right topic. And the dreaded plagiarism checker – you know you haven’t copied anything but you still dread waiting for that percentage to pop up on the screen and are relieved when it’s under 20%.
Also, prepare to budget. Your parents have probably already warned you not to blow your student finance in one go and please don’t. I know I can spend around £100 from my student budget willingly, but the rest goes on: petrol, parking, rent and food and that lasts me until I get my next lot in January. Please remember as well, I’ve had a part-time job for the last three years, I kept that through first year (one of the reasons I missed so many lectures) and I’m going to have this job until I leave university and get a full-time career. It’s hard to balance the work loads, but I know what I take home from work is my money to spend on whatever I see fit (usually make-up.)
Finally, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Your mum has probably said this to you so many times over your life and trust me, it’s so true. I know so many people who didn’t bother reading what they were told to read because “it wasn’t important” as well as other silly stupid little things – but do them! Get yourself above as many people, always strive to learn. I bought so many books for university because I asked the questions to my lecturers (they are the professionals after all), “what will I need for the three years” “what do YOU THINK I will need” and I bought them. I used them all the way through first year and I’m pretty positive I’ll need the again.
So there we go, that’s how I survived my first year and it’s still all relevant to me now going into second year. I’m going to work harder than ever before because I know EXACTLY what I want. I’m getting closer to my dreams everyday and no one will stop me now.