Tips for Starting University

Getting sorted for this semester!

tips for starting university

After more than a year of being out of university for my placement I am due to head back within the next month. Whoa has it flown in! 3 years down just one to go. I always start the new semester with nice new shiny pens, an unused notebook and some kind of motivation that only lasts for about 2 days. They key to success is planning and organisation, here are some points to help you get sorted if you are just starting university or heading back after a great summer off!

1. Be prepared, it's not going to be easy. 

I started university thinking that it would be a heck of a lot easier than school. Less homework, less supervision and less hours. There is a great jump between high school and university, within the space of so many months you have to mature and work without being spoon fed! You have to do a lot of independent learning which will be good in the long-term as you will teach yourself the skills of self-motivation and organisation, 2 of of the top skills that employers look for in graduates! 

2. Start as you mean to go on

Like I previously said, we are all guilty of being super motivated the first few weeks then we start to lag and don't know how to get back on track. I have done this a little too much in the past, sitting in lectures on my phone and slouched over the table has been nothing but a waste of time for me! This year I'm going to take more notes and start to pay more attention, it takes nothing more than sheer motivation and willpower to do well. None of us are perfect though, if you miss a class or if your mind wanders mid-lecture then get a copy of the powerpoint and read up on it in your own time. Also, a lot of lecturers record their lessons so find these (if they have them) and listen to them when you are less tired and/or feeling motivated. 

3. Try and organise your time so you don't run out of time!

You will have a number of modules that you need to do work for and it is crucial that you organise your time and are able to go to and from different modules to get work done before deadlines! I found this really difficult, if I had three things to do for three different modules I found it hard to switch off to one to start another. Before you sit down to do work, make a list of what you need to do and tick it off as you go along, that way you will keep on track and only learn what you need to learn that day/night. Also, it definitely helps to go over your notes as you go along instead of sitting down a major cramming session before a class test or exam (speaking from experience!) Make use of the library and study rooms but don't forget to go overboard. Getting stressed won't help you, take a night or two off a week, you'll deserve it. 

4. Don't make yourself unnecessarily out of pocket

In first year I made a real silly mistake, I got my reading list and I purchased every book on it. Number one, some reading lists can be a page long but only one may be essential for the particular course and number 2, you don't even need to BUY the books! If you are on the ball and get to your university library quick you can borrow them all and it'll not cost you a penny (unless you keep them longer than the loan time of course!) If other's have nabbed the books before you see if you can reserve it, that way when the book is returned you will be next on the list to receive it. If that fails then you can find good quality secondhand textbooks from eBay and Amazon. Buy these and resell them once your finished.

5. Fresher's week isn't all it's cracked up to be!

If you are just coming out of school and are planning on heading to university of course you are going to be nervous about the famous Fresher's week! Apart from partying every night with new friends I didn't really see why the first week is made into such a big deal. I went to the fresher's fair where I saw what clubs/societies that they had to offer. This was interesting but apart from that I didn't do much else (I feel kinda boring?) In saying that, I was only in 2 days a week in first year so I probably missed all the banter/excitement/fun times. Oops

6. Don't worry about ANYTHING

When you begin to feel overwhelmed with work just remember that absolutely everyone on your course is in the same boat. In my course we have a lot of group work which works really well when everyone pulls their weight. You can share the workload and have the support of others when the going gets tough. If you have a lot of independent projects and you are feeling stressed then don't be afraid to ask for help. You don't have as much contact with the lecturers in university as you do with teachers in school but that doesn't mean that they won't help you. I e-mail them constantly asking for help, it's not embarrassing, and they will give your work a once over if you send it to them. It's their job after all and it could result in a higher mark! Also, remember there will be advice centres on campus, go there for advice. Talk to your friends, if you are living away, give your family a ring. Do ANYTHING that helps you get through it, it'll be worth it in the end!

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