Our Top 10 Tips For Navigating Your First Year Of University
If you have decided to attend university you may be anxious or, quite simply, curious about what lies ahead. For many people, leaving for university can be the first time they have ever had to be truly independent and self-sufficient. Rest assured, your first year of university will be one of the best years of your life. It is, however, likely to be a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. With this in mind the team at Lettuce have compiled a list of our top tips for navigating your first year with ease. We hope by the end of the article you will be able to form realistic expectations as well as alleviate any worries you may have.
1. Embrace The Madness
Your first year of university, and in particular the first half, will be equal parts crazy and spectacular. You will spend the first few months getting accustomed to university life, making friends and, as we all know, going out. Your first year will be fast paced at times. Attending university and moving away from home is a big step. This may be the first time for many people that they have had to wash their own clothes, cook their own meals, devise their own schedule. The plunge into independence can be intense. But you shouldn’t be frightened: this is the opportunity to grow as a person and have a great time whilst you are at it. If you leave for university with an open mind and embrace the madness you will have a fantastic time and form some lifelong memories and friendships.
2. Make Yes Your New Favourite Word (Within Reason)
Now this is not to say we encourage you to say yes to absolutely every opportunity that falls in your lap. If a situation arises and it does not feel right you should always say no. What we were hoping to highlight in the following segment is that it is best to enter your first year with an open and inquisitive mind. Opportunities will present themselves frequently within the first few months of university and they will surely be varied. You may receive society invitations, social events, work placements. In order to make the most of your time away from home, and live the full university experience, we definitely encourage you to exploit all the opportunities at your disposal. Most if not all of the events that happen during university are, at the very least, a fun time. In some cases though you may be able to make new friends or really gain something from them.
3. Keep An Eye On Your Wallet
This one is one of the most important bits of advice and tends to be the most overlooked. Before you depart for university you should have organised tuition fee and maintenance loans with Student Finance. This is the route the majority of people will follow with a few exceptions. In some circumstances your university will also provide a grant. This is typically awarded to students who have arrived from low income households. So, you have arrived at university, your maintenance loan is in your account (as well as any savings you may have) and you have (or may not have) been awarded a grant by the university. You may now be thinking that the best course of action is to blow it all on jagerbombs and takeaways. We would strongly advise against this.
The loan repayment scheme is structured in a way so that you only start paying back your fees and any other outstanding loans when you are within an annual salary threshold. Even when you do start to pay back your loan the repayment percentage and interest is relatively low. With this in mind it can be easy, especially in your first year, to view your loan as free money. This can lead to reckless spending and less responsibility than you would have over, say, money you worked for. It is important to remember that you will have to pay back anything you have borrowed and your funds are not unlimited. Try to be responsible with your spending where possible and definitely try to make your money last. You have a year after all. We encourage you to budget for food, nights out and any other expenses to avoid those awkward phone calls with parents before a night out.
4. Register With A GP Just In Case
This may be low down on your to do list prior to or upon your arrival at university. It is likely that, excluding visits home for birthdays or Christmas, you will spend the majority of your three years in your chosen town. It is important therefore that you plan for every eventuality. When you arrive you may want to register at a local GP or make use of the university’s health service if they have one. If you do become sick or need to access your GP’s services it may be difficult to do this if your home is far away from where you attend university.
5. Yes You Still Need To Try In First Year
A common misconception about your first year of university is that the work does not contribute to your grade upon graduation and therefore you do not need to try. This is not strictly true. First year is designed to provide you with an introduction to university life and study. What is required of you and the style of learning is quite different from your A Levels or college course. It is quite useful for you to be engaged with the teaching from the offset to acclimatise yourself. For some courses you are only required to pass your first year whilst your second and third year module results contribute to your overall grade. This is not the case, however, for all courses. Some of the more demanding academic courses will expect specific grades from the get-go and will want to see consistent commitment to your studies. Regardless of your degree choice we think it is important to stay on top and aim to produce quality work throughout your three years.
6. Pack Your Running Shoes
During the first few months you will no doubt be inundated with social events. You will be out, making friends, drinking (responsibly) and having a really great time. In the midst of all this it is common for things like sleep, diet and exercise to fall by the wayside. We think it is important for you and your physical and mental wellbeing to establish some balance. Go on nights out, make new friends and party till your heart’s content. You should also ensure you have a regular sleep schedule and you are eating healthily where possible. Exercise is also great. If the gym is not for you there are plenty of other options. Perhaps get out for a jog or consider walking to your lectures rather than catching the bus.
7. Put Time and Consideration Into Who You Want To Live With In Second Year
We have all been there: you have been debating who to live with in second year, you have a few options and the nice houses are being snapped up. For the sake of a nice house it is almost never worth rushing your decision and perhaps living with people you do not know very well. Your second year house will likely be smaller than your first year accommodation. As things wind down in your second year you will spend more time with your housemates in a smaller space. If you do not like the people you are going to live with or do not know them very well this can pose quite a challenge. The people you choose to share a space with in second year can be the difference between a fun and miserable year. There are always plenty of houses so we would encourage you to think about the people you are going to live with carefully. Sharing a house with good friends whom you know will be a nicer experience than sharing with strangers. You may be lucky though. You could choose to live with people that you do not know very well and then strong friendships blossom. Every situation is different. We would encourage you to use your judgement and arrive at your decision after thought and consideration.
8. Check In Every Now And Then
You may find yourself ringing your parents intermittently to ask for money for beer or food. And they will be happy to help: they want to see you do well and make sure you are cared for. We advise ringing them or other close relatives every now and then simply to check in also. They will surely be worried about you and will want to ensure you are ok. If you are feeling homesick or a little deflated this can also be an opportunity to reset. After all, parents have a tendency to make everything better.
9. Make Friends With Your Professors Too
Studying at university is different to studying at a school or college. You are viewed as an adult and are able to develop more of a relationship with your lecturers. We would advise that you take advantage of this and try to establish a good working relationship with your professors. Not only is it good etiquette but it will ensure you have people to turn to should things not go to plan at any point during your time at university. It is also great for obtaining references post graduation.
10. Being Friendly Will Take You Far
This emphasises a point that was made earlier on in the article. We implore you to approach every interaction with an open mind. Although the prospect of speaking to a variety of new people may be daunting it will maximise the enjoyment you experience from your first year. Make an effort to chat to course-mates, people in your seminars and other individuals in societies. You never know where it could lead or which doors it could open for you. In saying that, and to underline a former point, do not put yourself in situations that are uncomfortable or force a friendship where one does not exist. Be inquisitive, have an open mind and use your judgement and you will get on just fine.
We hope you enjoyed our Top 10 Tips For Navigating Your First Year Of University. For more information, advice and tips on university life visit our dedicated blog. You can explore our range of student accommodation properties by visiting our property page