Thursday, 13 August 2015

TOP 5 TIPS WHEN STARTING UNIVERSITY

So, today is A-Level results day - a day I remember all too well! Opening the envelope to see your results is one of the most nerve-wracking moments, especially if you need specific grades to get into your chosen university. But of course not everybody wants to go onto university after college and that is completely fine (in hindsight I probably should have thought more about what I wanted to do instead of rushing my decision). Some of you may go straight into work, others may take a gap year and some people might go onto further education courses before university - whatever your choice is, make sure you are happy in your decision, that's the main priority. 

But for many it you, today is the day that you find out whether you got into your first or second choice of university, and that is such an exciting step in your lives! In my case, I didn't get the grades which I had hoped to get, and I also had a bit of a 'teenage life crisis' and wasn't sure what I wanted to do (that's the moment I should have taken a gap year), but instead I went through to clearing to get my space at university. Clearing is a great scheme to help you find a university place if you didn't get your first two choices, and there are often a lot of spaces left on different courses and universities that will take you in - so don't panic, there are other options if you didn't get what you wanted, even though I know this is frustrating!

So congratulations to everyone that got a place at university today - this is the start of an exciting chapter in your lives. I thought I would put together my 5 best tips when starting university, so that you can prepare for what is to come! I'm currently about to go into my third year (time goes so quickly) so I've learnt some useful tips and tricks! Those of you who aren't going to university, I hope the next chapter in your journeys are just as exciting and fulfilling and you have chosen a path which makes you happy. But for now, let's get into it (warning: wordy post)...

First things first, budget. The most important lesson I have learnt through my two years so far at university is that budgeting your expenses is so so important. During first year I went a bit crazy with my student loan and spent it on things that were either completely pointless or really unnecessary, but then half way through the year I realised that my overdraft was having to be increased and I couldn't afford important things like food, books and bills. In my first year I went straight to living in a house as I missed out on Halls of Residence due to going through clearing late, so it was really important I had money to pay for my rent etc. Before I started to budget my finances, I wasn't really sure where my money was going, and I seemed to be poor all the time (student life at its worst). But during my second year I started to make a weekly budget, so I knew exactly how much I had to pay out for rent, food and bills and then what disposable income I had left over (in other words - money for alcohol, clothes and lots of biscuits). This made it so much easier to be in control of my finances because I knew where the money was going, when it was due to leave my account and I also knew I had to stick to the budget!

Join a society. During your first week of freshers you should be invited to a freshers fair and a society fair, in which all of the university recreational clubs come together to give you information about who they are what they do. A society is essentially a club that you can join in your spare time at university and there are hundreds you can choose from! They range from sports to charities to theatre groups - any hobbies you can think of really (our university even has a Quidditch team!) Sport societies usually have training once or twice a week and then games every weekend against other universities. But if you're not wanting to commit to a team, there are many other things to get involved in such as fundraising for a charity, joining a drama group, dance lessons, cupcake decoration - you name it! I think it is really important to join a society at university, especially in your first year, because it gives you the chance to make new friends, learn/try something new, or even continue with a hobby or sport you've been doing for years! I did cheerleading in my first and second year and I loved every minute of it, it's something I've always wanted to try and we used to perform our routines every weekend at the American Football games - soooo Bring It On I know! 

Read. Reading is really important at university. The libraries they have on university campuses are some of the biggest I've ever seen, and they are filled with hundreds of books on every subject you can think of. I'm not a big reader of books and have always preferred reading a fashion magazine compared to sitting down and reading a novel or non-fiction book (unless it's Harry Potter of course). So when I first joined university I never really went into the library because I thought it was uncool and I had no idea what I was looking for. But after my first couple of assignments came back, I realised I was being downgraded because I wasn't using a wide range of resources and mainly stuck to websites for my references. But I've now realised that at university level it is key to read a wide range of books and journals for your assignments because that's what pushes your marks up! I've also come to realise that reading books widens your knowledge and vocabulary, so I can know use words that I didn't even know existed!

Get a part time job. I know that the last thing you want to do whilst at university is work! But honestly it will help you so much getting an extra sum of money through every month. As I said before, students are usually on the poorer side (it's inevitable) but having a job can help towards paying for essentials. Your loan will only cover so much, and you only get that through once a term, so once that runs out you will need some extra income. Most university campus's offer many jobs for students for example working in the student union, student shop, library and Halls of Residence bars, and these jobs are usually 0 hour contracts which means that they are flexible around your timetable and you can choose when to work. Even if you only work one day/evening a week, that money will really help towards your living expenses, and will look good on your CV too!

Finally, make sure you have fun! University is one of the best experiences of your life, so whilst you are there to get a degree and work hard, make sure you also enjoy yourself and live the experience to the full!! Take all of the opportunities, join as many clubs as you can, go out as much as you can (club socials are so much fun), take hundreds of photos to capture the memories and don't wish the years away because I promise you it goes so so quickly. I wish I could go back to first year and re-live it all again. The friends I have made at university are definitely friends for life! The friends you make will be so different to your friends from home, but it's great to meet people from different areas that enjoy different things. Indulge yourself fully into student life (take advantage of the student discount), because once it's over you'll be launched into the real world of jobs and who wants to think about that?! 

I hope this has helped you in some way to prepare for your life at university, enjoy every minute of it! But for now, go and celebrate getting college out of the way...on to the next chapter!
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2 comments

  1. As someone who is starting university in the fall, I found this post to be extremely helpful. Going into university, I have no idea what to expect! In particular, I liked the "reading" section to be most useful and didn't think that not reading and not using different sources would affect your grades! Luckily at my school, there's a TON of clubs, but I do agree that joining clubs is a good way to make friends. I would love to see more university posts, such as ways to organize or little hacks to get through the day. I'm also interested in a "university style" video because I have NO IDEA what to wear while I'm there. I love your blog!!

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  2. I'm moving to London for university this September and these tips were so helpful, I'll have to remember this!^^

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