On my instagram, I have been getting so many questions relating to how to get a head start at university. Normally, I would tell everyone to take the summer off, have fun and that it is not necessary to do prep work. However, with the current COVID-19 situation, holidays being cancelled, and people being unable to see each other, maybe I could offer some lighter-readings to prepare you guys.
I should first start by telling you that this is by no means necessary; do not feel pressured to do anything extra during this time: what matters most is your wellbeing and mental health. The course is designed to start you from the absolute basics and to bring every student up to the same speed. Different students may have done different A-Level subjects, etc. But I can understand, with sixth form no longer requiring work, students may feel frustrated and would like to spend their time well. Whether this is now, or even in a few weeks’ or months’ time.
Reading a few non-fiction books which are written in a way that is quite light, and gives some background knowledge can be a nice way to ease you into some of the course content. When I finished my A-Levels, I remember reading Lewis Wolpert’s “How We Live and Why We Die”, which was a great narrative covering the basics of the human body- from the cell to bigger systems. I also read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. I later got to use Henrietta Lacks’ HeLa cells in an experiment at University!
In terms of actual “learning”, for the first year, I would focus on the basic physiology of the heart and lungs, basic biochemistry and some neuroscience, as these will form some foundations to your modules. Khan Academy has some great resources for these topics. But don’t over-complicate it; be sure not to go too far and confuse yourself as this can be more detrimental than helpful. As far as textbooks go, I would advise against buying them now. Often, near the beginning of the next academic year, there can be bundle offers, or older years selling their textbooks for a lot cheaper than brand new. Third years, who are specialising, are often very keen to sell their old textbooks at the beginning of the year as, depending on their modules, they may no longer need them.
Biomedical science is a great course, I would relive it all again in a heartbeat. I’ve made so many great friends, and memories here at the University of Birmingham, including my summer placement in Tours, France. (Which I have already written a blog post about!)
If you have any more questions about biomedical science specifically, or any other questions on student life, feel free to message me on my instagram (@_hannah_uob_).