Starting university can be daunting. It is a new environment, so it is normal to be anxious. Here are some of my tips to allay fears and maximise your enjoyment of university life.
Don’t worry if you’re living in private halls
A lot of students will be living in private halls for the first time this year. This type of accommodation is very similar to university halls; however, they are privately owned. Private halls are often selected as overfill accommodation if the university accommodation is full and, sometimes, seen as inferior to university halls.
However, this is not the case; private halls are similar to university halls, with many freshers in the same accommodation. Freshers’ representatives will ensure that students are invited to events. There will be many freshers events at the university, and you will also meet people on your course.
During the year, there will be several advertised events that are a great way to meet new friends and get involved with what university has to offer. There will be course events, society events, student union and university events.
Another great way to get involved is to join a society; you will meet people with similar interests who already have something in common with you. It’s also perfect for developing old hobbies, finding new interests or, simply, escaping university stress. The student union will have a complete list of societies to join—I recommend picking at least one!
Get some work experience — even if your course doesn’t include any
With more and more people going to university, it is hard to differentiate between two students with the same degree. This is where experience comes in. It demonstrates to employers many vital skills and gives a taste of how enjoyable any chosen career path is. Another benefit is networking; developing contacts who work in an industry to gain useful advice. Employers look at who went the extra mile and it allows you to differentiate yourself.
Getting work experience is straightforward. The Employability Team can point you in the right direction, and course lecturers will be able to give advice too. Simply emailing a chosen company and asking if there is work experience available often yields surprising results. Rejection is not something to fear. Prospects has an extensive list of different work experience types and in-depth advice to getting it. Pearson offers similar advice.
Student Ambassador roles are also important. These are a great way to gain transferable skills and work experience, with the added bonus of getting paid. They are also fun, giving ambassadors unique insights into university and progression opportunities.
Don’t leave work until the last minute
It can be easy to leave university work until the last minute. Essays are normally set months in advance; meaning there is plenty of time to do other things, like socialise. However, university work is set well in advance because there is a lot of work that needs to be put into it to do well.
While the first year of university doesn’t go towards the final grade, the feedback gained is vital for the second and third years. If work is left to the last minute, it will cause unnecessary stress and panic, which means overall performance will be hampered. Speaking from experience, 3 am library trips should be avoided at all costs!
Getting a student loan is exciting. It’s a lot of money given all at once. But, it is important not to spend it immediately. Learning how to budget is important. This can take a variety of forms, such as buying cheaper foods from stores like Asda, Lidl and Aldi. Look out for student discounts to save money. Which? and Save the Student have great articles on their website detailing various advice on saving money.
It is about having balance as university is about having fun after all. Part-time work may help if high spending is a regular occurence.
The years of university should be the best time of your life. It’s a chance to experience adulthood with all the perks without the overbearing responsibility of work. University is not just a place of work and study, but a chance to gain key work and life experience, meet new friends and explore new places. Ultimately, it is a place to have fun. The amount of fun is dependent on how much you emerse yourself in its culture. The more you put into it, the more that you will get out of it.
Words by Kieran Burt
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