For many first year students around the UK, Freshers Week is now over and their life as a University student will properly begin. Most don’t know what to expect and some may be wondering how they will survive being a student who is now fully responsible for their own learning.
University is completely different to school, Sixth-Form/College etc. You will no longer be spoon fed and you will be expected to be independent and manage your own time to ensure you make the most of your lectures, tutorials and free time. Gone are the days of getting to Sixth-Form/College at a certain time, sitting in on different classes, and then going home again and ignoring the homework that is set. At most Universities, your lecturer will not even notice if you don’t turn up, particularly in the larger groups (although tutorials are usually different and your attendance will be marked for those). This is what makes University quite dangerous and it is easy to fall behind in your classes.
In order to help you guys out a little I came up with a list of 5 tips to survive your first year of University (and set you up for the following years):
1. Attend your Lectures
This one seems very obvious and I think most students start the year off believing they will attend every single lecture throughout the year and be a good student. This is how I started my year off. I was so excited at the thought of being an “adult” and attending lectures, I truly thought I would never miss one lecture, even if I was hungover or tired. I remember telling my neighbour in halls that I would “never let a hangover get in the way of my lectures”. It almost makes me laugh now how wrong I was.
It gets increasingly hard to attend lectures when you generally have no accountability and can borrow the notes from others who went. Your 9am lectures will seem so early and you could soon find yourself skipping them because you can’t be bothered to wake up at 8:30 and leave halls/your house by 8:45 to make it on time to study Contract Law (unless, you know, Contract Law is really your thing). This seems ridiculous when most UK students are used to getting to Sixth-Form/College by 8-8:30am every morning. But trust me, it becomes difficult, particularly when you’ve been to the Student’s Union on a Wednesday night and drank £3 (or less!!) double vodkas all night.
However, lectures are one of the most important ways for students to learn and understand the material given to them. Not attending your lectures can set you up to quickly fall behind on your course and cause you to panic when it comes to exam time because you missed a very important topic and couldn’t read your friend’s notes.
From my own experience, I would encourage all of you to do your best to attend as many lectures as you can. I know you probably won’t be able to attend every lecture, but if you do miss one, take the time to catch up – read about the topic that was covered and talk to your course mates about it. Fully understanding a topic will help youin the future.
2. Do your tutorial work
Following on from attending your lectures, you have to make sure you actually complete your tutorial (or whatever your University calls them) work. Tutorials can be so boring sometimes and it can be really hard to do the extra work required after your lectures to prepare. Sometimes, answering 20 questions about Criminal Law regarding mens rea and actus reus *if you don’t know what that is yet, you soon will* can seem so dull when you would prefer to socialise with your new friends and course mates.
Unfortunately, tutorials are a great way to consolidate the topics you have gone over in your lectures. They can really help to make sure subjects stick in your mind and can make it easier to revise when the time comes.
I think it’s important to make sure you participate in your tutorials as much as possible. Answer questions, listen to others, take notes and don’t be afraid to ask your tutor questions – if you think your question is stupid, just remember others in your class are most likely wondering the same thing and are too scared to ask. You could be helping not only yourself, but your course mates too.
3. Make as many friends as you can
University can be a lonely time. You’ve probably just left home for the first time, all of your school friends are going to Universities in different parts of the UK and you’re stuck with the daunting prospect of having to meet new people and make new friends. It’s just like starting Secondary School all over again and leaving your Primary School friends behind.
You will of course make new friends, particularly with your housemates. It’s hard not to when you’re around each other all the time. Sometimes though it can be too easy to become comfortable with just socialising with them. I would advise you to try to make friends with as many of your course mates as you can. After all, they’re the people you’re going to be spending the most stressful times with! They can help with revision, getting through lectures (or taking pictures of you when you fall asleep), completing tutorial work, etc. It’s a good idea to meet as many of them as possible and you could even start study groups to go through the notes together.
Another good way to meet new people is to join clubs and/or societies. Start a new sport. Always fancied playing tennis? Join the tennis club! You should also definitely join your University’s Law Society, they always plan social events for all of the Law students. This is definitely something I wish I had taken advantage of whilst I was at University and I think all first year students should do the same.
4. Take care of yourself
Everyone has heard of the Freshers 15. If you haven’t, you’ve been living in a bubble. First year students can finally cook for themselves and tend to eat a whole bunch of crap all the time. Add the alcohol they are likely to consume and you’re looking at a whole load of calories on a daily basis. This causes many first year students to put on weight, apparently as much as 15 pounds in the first year.
This doesn’t seem like much of an issue, but it can be really upsetting when you go home for the summer holidays and realise you can’t fit into any of your clothes anymore!
Take University as a chance to explore new foods, try new recipes and become more adventurous in the kitchen. This can be quite expensive but you can always cook with your housemates to cut the costs. Don’t sit around eating pizza and junk food all the time or you could end up regretting it later on.
I would also encourage you to take up exercise (join a sports club – see above). Join your campus gym, if you have one, and try to recover from all the pizzas you’ve eaten. This also helps with the day to day stresses of student life.
5. Finally, have fun!!!
Ok, the above 4 points are quite serious, so tip number 5 is simply to enjoy yourself and have a little fun.
You’re in a new environment and you should take advantage of all of the opportunities you’re going to come across. You can’t be serious all the time, you need to de-stress and chill out as well. Enjoy yourselves, get involved in University life and you’ll probably have the time of your life.
I hope this helps!
If you have any suggestions for topics you would like me to write about, please let me know! As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact me by leaving a comment on this post or using the Contact page.