I have just finished my third year at Middlesex University studying Criminology & Policing. Last year I would have told people I was really enjoying uni, but the third year has really affected me and made me realize that uni is no joke, and you should never go to uni just for the fun of it. it will destroy you. I wanted to talk about my uni experience so that the freshers or prospectus students can really understand what the uni doesn’t tell you, and the students that show you around will arse-lick the uni to make you want to go. so here’s the truth. Overall, I have enjoyed uni, I just haven’t enjoyed the actual going to uni and doing work part. its definitely changed my life, but id never do it again.
I’m planning on doing a top tip for uni blog too, so if you’re wondering how I have achieved some of this stuff, for example, making friends before uni started, look out for another blog on it 🙂
Please read the overview if you want to know the conclusion. If you’re looking at going to uni you should definitely read this.
Getting to uni
Uni was actually not on my radar at all really. my school was very pushy about applying to uni (to get their reputation up), so I had to apply. By the time my application was over, I didn’t think I would get in. after seeing my final grades from my A levels, I definitely thought I had no chance. to be honest, when I saw my grades I had forgotten uni even was an option for me. I went for a coffee with my friend who knew she didn’t get into uni, and BAM, ‘Middlesex University has accepted your application for Criminology, see you in October’. I didn’t know what to think. I had failed miserably and had got into uni. I went home and literally within 2 hours of that email I decided I would go. It meant I didn’t have to look for a crappy job, I could move out, I could get a degree and I would have better job opportunities. So within a week, I was up in London looking for places to live. all of the student accommodations were booked, so I ended up looking at renting a room in peoples houses. I eventually found my flat, that was cheap, and was good enough for me. one or two IKEA trips later, I had everything I needed, signed my tenancy agreement, and was living about 100 miles from home. All in the space of 2 weeks.
So the myth is that ‘everyone’s in the same boat’ ‘everyone will be lovely’ ‘everyone’s trying to make friends’. Unfortunately, my classmates at uni were cliquey AF. There were the weird group, the popular group, the people who never showed up, the nerds and then the people that go with the flow and is friends with everyone, which was luckily the group I was in. After speaking to friends at other unis, most people are lovely especially in your first week because of you’re all in the same boat.
I was lucky enough to have met someone before uni even started that was on the same course at the same uni as me. So on our first day, Charlotte and I sat together, made friends together, and are still super close now. I can’t imagine what it is like to go to uni not knowing anyone, so I tried to speak to as many people as I could, knowing I had a friend and wanted to help others feel comfortable. I met a few people, one of them has stayed in my friend group right through uni. It was me, Charlotte and Abi doing the first year together. Charlotte had made friends on her module, and by year 2 we were one big group of 4 girls and about 7 boys.
I had recently started my relationship with my current boyfriend about 2 months before I decided to go to uni. that was one of the hardest things because I was just getting comfortable with him, and everyone knows that ‘honeymoon period’ where you’re all soppy with each other. so that was difficult, but he was so supportive and helped me out a lot over the years. Moving away from my family wasn’t much of a big deal to me, because I knew they’d always be a train ride home, and my dad and stepdad worked in London so weren’t far away most of the time. it was hard leaving my friends from home that weren’t going to uni, and it was a pain knowing the ones that did go to uni were even further away.
I was led to believe you would have no money at all from student finance. I was told I’d have to budget £10 a week for things I wanted, so I’d have to buy the cheap version of chocolate, I could only have one drink at the pub and I could only spend £5 if I went out for the day. none of that is true. for some people who don’t get much student loan, and have expensive rent, maybe so. but student loan is based on your parent’s income, so if your parents have a lot of money, you’ll have less loan, meaning they’re meant to be able to help you out. so, either way, you should have more than £10 a week. After rent and bus fares, I had about £40 a week to do a food shop, and do whatever else I wanted. Ill most likely do a blog on budgeting if you want to know how to make your money spread.
In the first year, I had student loan problems and didn’t even have enough to cover my rent, so my mum had to step in and help me out. once the loan was sorted and I got my grant, I was ballin’. Rent in London is so expensive. I paid £130 a week (all bills inc) for the tiniest room, shared kitchen and bathroom with a hairy man, and didn’t live walking distance from uni. But in my final year, I was paying £170 a week for a double bedroom, shared kitchen and bathroom with Charlotte and loads of other facilities like free gym & pool, living in Wembley etc. So rent is expensive, but the price reflects the quality. so don’t go for the cheapest option if you can afford it.
Overall, I’m in about £50,000 of debt from the student loan.
£6,000 per year for maintenance loan = £18,000
£9,000 per year for tuition loan = £27,000
I got an extra £3,000 a year in grants which I don’t have to pay back.
Year one is a walk in the park. Literally. I did the odd essay when they were set, the odd poster, the odd presentation, but there was hardly any readings or work to do from home. I don’t actually know what we did in the first year but it was piss easy. I had 6 months off for summer, 3 weeks off for Christmas, 3 reading weeks and a 2-week Easter break. We were NEVER at uni. that is just Middlesex uni though, this isn’t the same across all uni’s.
Year one I was doing just Criminology, and me and my friends had the same modules and were in the same classes, so it was really fun. every day we’d meet up, have lunch together and then go to class. Charlotte and I often found ourselves in the local pub with our curry sauce and chips having a good old natter. I loved the first year. If it was like this every year I don’t think I’d ever stop getting degrees.
I had changed course to Criminology with Policing because this interested me more. During this time, our group had expanded to about 10 of us, and we had such a laugh. There was more uni work this year, but still quite spread out. The uni was expecting better work from us this year, so we had to really try in our essays, but I always passed. I HATED HATED HAAATEDDDD sociology. Never again do I want anything to do with it. If you know, you know. But we had our policing module that was fun, had some guest speakers, some trips, workshops to help us prep for joining the police and had a great lecturer.
Where do I start? Jesus Christ, THE PAIN that this year caused me. I loved the modules of this year, they were so interesting, and in fact, before Christmas, there was nothing wrong with the third year. then the dissertation deadline came in disgustingly fast, and everyone was in breakdown mode. While doing dissertations, we had a trillion other deadlines. I have never had more than one spot on my face at one time, until April. I was grey, I was losing weight, I was often sick, I couldn’t sleep, I had so many spots I actually didn’t want to leave the house. It was horrendous.
I was living with Charlotte, and we had 2 other friends in the same building and we had SO much fun, we went clubbing, chilled, had people around, went out for dinners, it was so good to spend my final year in a nice accommodation with people that made me laugh so much. They say you make your closest friends at uni, and not to sound too soppy but if I wasn’t friends with Charlotte I don’t think I could have done uni. we started youtube together, were now blogging together, we have supported each other so much in life and in uni, and we’ve realised were literally the same human, I can see us being friends for a long time. I also had a lot of spare money this year. rent was expensive but I was never short of money.
Uni has given me more confidence for sure, I’m so much more independent, I’ve gained so many more writing and social skills, but it has drained me. I have been dealing with a lot of problems outside of uni that has caused me to be quite glum, but being on my own in a tiny room so far away from my main supporters was really hard, especially when we had family problems. Despite this, uni has made me realise where I am mentally, and maybe I’ll put it on another blog or youtube video, but I don’t really talk about my mental health. it’s for me, and I HATE getting sympathy or attention from it. so maybe I’ll write a blog if people are interested in how I cope with stuff and what I have been diagnosed with, but probably not. Anyway, uni made me realise I wasn’t ok, and I got help. By year 3, I felt so ok that I no longer needed help, but then came the dissertation and I went crashing down again. I don’t cope well with stress, so I’m not saying everyone doing a dissertation will become clinically depressed, but it really is draining. the longer you leave it, the less you care but the more stressed you become. you can become so stressed that you no longer care. its weird, but its true. One tip I have if you’re struggling mentally, as cliche as it sounds, talk to someone. a lecturer, a friend, your partner, or a therapist or doctor. weirdly enough I don’t follow that advice myself, but I know it will help you.
Uni is meant to help you find a career path. I know with my degree I could get a job in the police no problem, but I actually have no idea what I want to do. My uni hasn’t been very helpful in finding a job or a field of work. I’m now debating whether a career in criminology/policing is where I want to go. while I was in the second year, I fell madly in love with makeup. I’ve always loved it, but something happened and it’s now my world. I had wanted to start youtube for a long time, but my confidence was nowhere near ready. But since I’ve started, I’m pretty sure its what I want to do. I’ve always wanted to work from home, and play with makeup. and I now could achieve that. but I’m wasting my degree completely.
if you know you want a certain career, uni can help you get there. Make sure you want to get into the debt and DO NOT do uni if you’re not interested in the topic. If you want a job, but don’t want to learn about it, you can find other ways of getting there like apprenticeships and work experience. Uni is a great experience, but it is hard, expensive and doesn’t always give you a good job. My friends that didn’t go to uni are now earning loads because they have experience and have worked their way up to better jobs already. so if you’re unsure, I wouldn’t do it. you can do uni at any time, don’t rush it for the sake of it.