I am 2 weeks into my second year of university and my first year wasn’t how I expected it to be, it had its ups and downs but I made it through and even got a 2:1! In todays blog post I want to share some tips that I think will really help anyone about to go into their first year of uni this September.
Organisation – My first major tip is to be organised! I am quite an organised person when it comes to school work etc, but I feel like with all the work you’re probably going to get, you need to be extra organised to be able to stay on top of it all. I’m not sure if this is the same for every uni/course but I have 8 modules each year with two assignments or exams for each, so the workload can build up very fast! If you don’t know already, again this might not be the same for everyone, but for us if you hand in an assignment late, even one minute late 10% of your mark gets took off, then 20% if it’s 24 hours late and so on. So you need to make sure you’re organised and know when each assignment needs to be handed in otherwise you’ll lose out on marks. I am given all of my assignments and dates that they’re due in at the beginning of each year so I go through them all and put them in order of when they’re due in on a word document, print a few copies out and stick one on my wall and one in my diary or folder. This helps so much as I get given module handbooks with the assignment briefs in and they’re not in order so if I didn’t do this then I feel like I would miss assignments etc. An example of this is in the photo above.
Plan when you’re going to study – I didn’t do as much studying at the beginning of my first year as I should have, this lead me to become extremely stressed by October and question whether uni was the right thing for me or not. Our first assignment wasn’t due in until the end of November so I thought I had so much time to just chill! I didn’t do any extra reading out of lectures and ended up feeling so thick like I wasn’t clever enough to do the course as so many people seemed to know it all already. I even thought of dropping out or switching course to the foundation degree, but once I got my act together and started doing a little bit of studying each night the topics started to make sense and I realised I could actually do it! I don’t want to anyone to feel like I felt, so please at least read over your lecture notes each evening so you know what you’re doing! It is recommended that you spend two hours out of class studying for every one hour of lectures you have. Which sounds like a lot and I definitely didn’t do that much last year but this year I’m going to make myself a study timetable type thing and organise what I’m going to go over and when. This will make revising for exams much easier if you start straight away as you’ll already know it all when it comes to exam week!
My Study Life – I used this website a lot in the first few months of uni, it saved my life! My mum found it and recommended it to me and I’m so glad she did as it is a website and app where you can organise your whole academic year. You can put in what classes you have, where they are, when they are & who they’re with. You can also put in your holidays, any tasks you have, assignment deadlines and exams. It has a dashboard which allows you to quickly see all tasks/assignments for that day and the next day, it then has a calendar which you can view weekly or monthly and once you’ve put all of your lectures into the app it will show you when you have them and you can set reminders for them as well. The next two tabs are where you can put in any tasks you have to do and upcoming exams. The tasks don’t have to be uni related, I used to do it to remind myself to buy particular essentials and stuff! The last tab is a schedule page where it shows you when your holidays are and all of your classes. This is so handy to set up and I love that it is also available as an app on your phone.
Don’t isolate yourself – I went to uni with the mindset of ‘I’m here to learn and get a degree not to make friends’. That might sound very nerdy but it was purely because I started uni when I was 21, a few years older than when people usually go to uni at 18. So I thought I wouldn’t really fit in as stupid as that sounds. I already knew three girls who were on my college course in Newcastle coming to study a degree at York as well so I didn’t worry about making friends as much. The three girls I knew were all on a different course to me which didn’t bother me, I was just bothered about being the loner in accommodation. Luckily I made friends with a group of girls on my course so I’m not alone in lectures which is a plus! The first few weeks I went out with the group and socialised a lot which is definitely a good thing but this is why I didn’t do much studying at the beginning of the year and what lead me to become really stressed. But then I ended up going the other way a few months down the line and studying too much and always refusing to go out with the girls as I was studying, and I ended up feeling really lonely and homesick. What I’m trying to say is make sure you’re balancing your time between socialising and studying for your own sanity!
Don’t expect too much – I started my first year of university thinking that it was going to be the best time of my life, I had seen on TV and heard from various people that it is the best time of your life. I thought that I wouldn’t miss home, I thought that because I could talk to my parents on the phone and online that I wouldn’t miss them and I’d only miss my bunnies! This wasn’t the case, I did miss home, I missed my family and bunnies and just simple little things like home comforts. I missed just sitting in the kitchen at home doing my work with my family pottering about rather than doing it completely alone in my uni room. I don’t want to put a downer on anyone’s excitement as my experience was and will be very different to other people’s as I am studying my degree at a college rather than a large university. I think if I was at a ‘proper’ university I would have enjoyed my first year much more, at my college we don’t have societies or groups that you can join to pass time and meet people, it’s more suited to people who live in York and just come in daily to lessons rather than students staying over.
Uni is what you make it – In the end uni is what you make it, you can choose to make it the best years of your life which is what I’m going to do this year. I’m going to manage my time better for both studying and socialising, I’m going to go out more, not drinking as that’s not my idea of a good time. But I’m going to explore around me and go into York city centre, visit cute places in the country and just try to enjoy every second. I hope if you’re starting uni these tips might just help you in some way, and I hope you have a great first year!