Now that I have actually completed a year at university I think I’m slightly more qualified to give some advice based on real life experiences as opposed to last year when I was just starting out myself. But in my defence, most of what I wrote about last year helped me a lot 🙂
1: You are an adult now
You take full responsibility for everything- YOU, not your parents- you have to deal with everything yourself! You WILL be forced to grow up even if you thought you were already an old boring grandma.
Also- all of those people that called you an old boring grandma at the start will be wishing they were as organised as you when they start running out of food and money 😛
2: It is different to school
It seems obvious but it is often overlooked; at your sixth form/college, although there may have been people from different ethnic backgrounds, most of the people you met would have grown up in a similar British community to you. At uni, you meet people from all over the world, you will be faced with situations where cultural morals and social acceptances will collide and sometimes create conflicts- learn to be patient in order to deal with the vast range of people you will meet.
In addition, no one can force you to work, this is all down to you. For those of you that may not be sure about your course or future, read my last post, then find a way to motivate yourself to continue through the year, even if you hate it. Here is an article that might also interest you if you find yourself in this situation.
3: Do not be naïve
You will find that some older students will be willing to help you settle in and you may even become good friends, this is a positive thing of course and I hope that every fresher can find themselves a ‘helper’. But beware of what I call ‘uni mothers’ who want to boss you around simply because you’re new. Remember when you were in year 2 and if your friend fell out with another friend they’d say “You can’t be friends with Jessica because I’m not friends with her” or “Amy was my friend first you can’t steal her from me” -THAT DOESN’T STOP!
Be prepared for 3 more years at least of that silliness. You got into your university the same way everyone else did, don’t let someone feel they have power over you just because they started a year before you. Of course, petty behaviour is something you will deal with as long as you’re around people, but at uni I have found that people quickly tend to adopt a weird sense of ownership.
4: Think carefully about who you want to live with during 2nd year
It sounds premature but most students move into private accommodation in their 2nd year and tend to make these final agreements before Christmas. Think about it, you start uni in September/October; you have only known these people for about 2 months, think VERY carefully about your new housemates. I have a lot of friends going back with regrets and it isn’t always easy to get out of such agreements.
5: Do your work!
First year doesn’t count (towards your final grade, yes) but if It was pointless they wouldn’t make you do it. Use this as an opportunity to learn how to manage yourself and figure out how you learn best. Most importantly, learn how to get ahead. Make the right connections with older students that can help you out with assignments as well as basic things like where to get a haircut. Also try and establish strong links in industry (easiest to do at networking events which are often on campus so you don’t have to travel far)- employers remember an eager first year student who shows enthusiasm- this helped to get me a summer placement in a major engineering company before my first year results had even been released!
6: Think wisely before you spend your pennies!
It IS possible to not go broke (have £00.00 as your account balance) at uni! It is also possible not to spend your entire overdraft! Budgeting is key, it isn’t easy by any means and extra pennies from family are also extremely helpful but trust me when I say it is possible! Check my post on spending, also this new app I started using called Daily Budget. Do not be one of those people that splashes the cash the day their loan drops- you’ll regret it during summer, especially if you can’t find paid work to compensate.
7: Put God first!
I thought I had a very strong relationship with God- uni taught me otherwise. Temptation comes in a lot more forms than the guy you met during freshers that only wants that one thing. As a believer, based on observations from the people around me and friends outside uni, I can confidently say that you will either grow or forget God completely. This is the first test in my opinion. If you don’t want to be person number 2 then make it a priority to find a church before you even get to uni, don’t let the freshers flu get you down on that first Sunday morning. Social media is a great way to find churches and religious youth groups. Btw, check to see if your university has a Radical Youth Christian Society, you’re welcome!
Be determined to grow at YOUR OWN PACE. Just be sure that this pace is steady and realistic, you will meet people at different spiritual levels- focus on your own PERSONAL walk with God. The worst thing you can do is allow yourself to be forced into something, take direction from God first and God only!
8: Enjoy it!
Don’t take things too seriously. Be sure to prioritise and find a balance in everything. Uni is guaranteed to be an enjoyable experience so don’t finish your first year with regrets, finish with lots of lessons learned that you can pass onto the next set of freshers.
Be sure to check out my previous uni series here and feel free to ask any questions via email or in the comment section.