It’s that time of year again when final year college students and returning mature students are planning ahead for their progression to university. The truth is University flies by, so make the most of it. I still can’t believe it has been almost two years since I graduated, but during my studies at university, I experienced some of the best, and some of the most stressful times of my life, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
One experience I consider to have changed me the most was the transition from living at home to living away. For returning or mature students, this might not be a difference for you, but having such big responsibilities of my own taught me a lesson of how to be independent. It is true what they say, like many of my university friends I went crazy when I got my loans in, and Aldi ended up being my best friend. The nightlife can be amazing if you find the right places – value prices, a great way to meet new people, and to let loose from the studying. My first year was definitely the most exciting for me, as I found it to be the most laid back and full of fun. The studying was exciting, and being able to do what I wanted without my parents to do was even more exciting.
The second year I became more focused on my students, whilst still having a great time. This is the first year that counted towards my degree. Many people in my first year complained about spending a year studying when it didn’t count, but after I realised how beneficial it was. It prepared me for what I had to come rather than jumping in the deep end, so make sure you use this to your advantage if this is the case.
The third year was when it became serious and all about the studies. With deadlines flying at me it was the year with the most pressure. When you sit down to write your dissertation and two hours later you’re sat staring at the screen with only your name written in the top corner, don’t worry, we’ve all done this – I know I have. At the time it may be stressful, but the best advice I can give is don’t let the pressure take a hold of you. There’s going to be times you think about giving up – it gets hard, but you will get there so long as you set your heart to it. There were modules where I was still up typing in the morning of the deadline – energy drinks by my side and surrounded by scattered papers. Sounds awful I know, but in the end it’s all worth it. Walking along the stage and being handed my degree was one of the most rewarding achievements in my life.
So from my personal experience, here are five tips I can offer you;
• Don’t go too crazy in your first year. Create a budget and try to stick to it. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun – of course you’re supposed to, you’re a fresher! Although these overdraft offers and loans sound amazing at the time, they are a pain to pay off after, so resist if you can!
• Try to be organised. One of the most stressful things during my studies was rushing to get things done close to the deadline. Try to make a plan, it will take a lot of the pressure off and allow more time for improvements.
• Don’t feel nervous about presentations – believe it or not the entire class are probably feeling just as nervous. Go into your presentation feeling confident with your work. It will pay off and your work will be a lot clearer.
• Take part in extra activities. This is one thing I regret not doing. It is great for meeting new people and a boost on your CV.
• Finally, make sure you take advice seriously from tutors and other mentors. Having your work criticised by others may not be something you enjoy, but their advice can really work a treat. During parts of my time at university, I had to share my work with the class. At first I was worried about criticism, as I hated to hear harsh comments on work I had put my full effort into, but receiving outside comments really improved pieces of my work, as it highlighted errors or improvements I couldn’t see myself, as well as teaching me how to critically analyse my own pieces.
So for all of those starting their courses this year, I hope this will help and most of all, good luck!
Written by Christina Cooper