Approaching university – advice for starting in September

Published by Sophie
on 20/04/2020

In these confusing and unsettling times, it is more important than ever for the Student Team to provide some true-to-life, genuine and practical advice for anyone hoping to be starting university in September. Here is a step-by-step guide to making the most of university from the get-go!

1. Balance Fun and Focus
That age old saying- “fun and focus” might sound SUPER cliché, and you have undoubtedly heard it a thousand times during your academic career, but is especially important at university. It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders in college and like the work is never ending, and freshers week at university lies on the horizon with promise of new friends, nights out and a host of fun! It can be all too easy to have too much fun at university at the expense of your studies. We all need things to look forward to, or we would simply burn out, but it is important to remember that your first year grades do determine your ability to remain on your course (eek!). Personally, I find a great way to manage this balance is to make a “fun” timetable alongside a “study” timetable- this can also be really useful in scheduling in study that you will ACTUALLY then carry out, instead of scheduling too much and overworking yourself. It is a great way of visualising if you are leaning too far into the “overworking” or “underworking” side of the scale, and will hopefully be a gentle reminder to create a good work and fun balance.

2. Smaller Picture
It is so easy to get caught up in focusing on the bigger picture at university; preoccupied with the grade you want to be leaving with and contemplating what career you will end up doing. Whilst it is key to have a goal in mind, it is also really important to acknowledge the smaller picture and to give yourself credit for the smaller achievements you are making. I have found it really useful to just consider each assignment as a single entity, as oppose to a mountain of work that is the be all and end all of my degree grade. Small picture is always better!

3. Stay Organised
This is a tip that you can carry through to every stage of life. Get organised and stay organised. Buy a folder for every module you study and file your work into these at the end of every week. It is so easy to do this once you get the hang of it- even the most unorganised can keep this up (trust me!)

4. Practice, Practice, Practice (and then practice some more)
Statistically speaking, the more practice you do, the better chance you have of doing well. So submit those formative essays (essentially a mock-paper) so you can use the feedback to improve your summative (the actual paper where the grade will count). Why are you devoting 5 weeks to copying out notes and only doing one practise question before an exam? Condense your notes on a weekly basis, memorise what you don’t remember learning and then spend the rest of your time doing as much practise as possible!

5. Celebrate
Celebrate your successes and celebrate your dedication to the cause! University isn’t always easy, and takes determination and hard work. Celebrate making it to the end of semester 1, celebrate submitting that first deadline, celebrate going to that professor’s office hour even though you were super nervous! University is a journey, and not acknowledging how much you grow along the way would be an awful shame!