Starting uni is so exciting, but terrifying. Moving away from family and friends, being dependant on a loan, becoming independent and knowing no one is so scary. I wanted to write this for students that are looking at starting uni, or those who are close to starting uni.
In school, I did crap. my school pretty much forced the students to apply for uni, do a personal statement and do uni visits, even if you didn’t want to go. I didn’t think I’d get in because I was so bad at exams. Long story short, uni wasn’t on my mind at all even though I had applied, and when I saw my results I definitely thought it wasn’t an option. But I got my first choice at Middlesex Uni studying criminology. Within 2 hours, I made the life-changing decision to go to uni, and within 2 weeks I had everything I needed, a flat near uni, I had enrolled and I was ready to go.
My first piece of advice is IF YOU’RE UNSURE, OR YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR COURSE, DONT DO IT! Uni will make you miserable, even if you love it. Sounds weird but honestly, the work will make you want to cry, especially if you don’t enjoy it. Don’t do uni just to get a degree, or just to pass the time, do it because you want to learn about the topic and because you want a good job in that field at the end. it’s not worth the debt to sit there and hate it.
If you’re unsure about going to uni…
I suggest you apply anyway and get your student loan sorted for your first choice option just in case. when I got accepted I hadn’t bothered with my student loan until then and they needed to do a trillion checks to give me my loan, meaning I was behind on receiving payment and I didn’t have the full amount I was due to have. So if you’re debating on uni, I would apply anyway and do all of your documents just in case. its super easy to cancel, and student loan auto cancels when you don’t enrol.
If you know you’re going to uni…
Make friends as soon as you can! I can guarantee your uni will have freshers facebook pages for the year your starting, and all you have to do is post in there saying your course and ask if anyone else is doing the same, and you’ll get comments. Or, find someone else’s post for your course and find people that way! That’s how I found Charlotte, I saw she was on the same course on the fresher’s page, saw on her profile she lived in the same town as my boyfriend which was super close to me, and I messaged her! I was worried she’d think I’m such a loner or really weird for messaging, but she said she was so happy I messaged! then on our first day of uni, we met up and did the day together. It’s so much better when you have someone to sit with.
People have always said that an easy way of making friends is to go to freshers parties, but honestly, that is unlikely to work because you probably won’t find anyone on your course, so you’ll probably never see anyone else again. You might be invited to a few parties, but I suggest making friends with people who are on the same course. That way you’ll enjoy your course more. So if parties aren’t your thing, don’t force yourself to go just to make friends.
Make sure your application to uni and student finance is finalised, preferably before you’ve even got your A-level results. It’s hard to find a flat not knowing if you’re gonna get in or not so I would leave that until your results are done and you know how much loan you’re getting.
Go to IKEA, get your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom bits and you’re good to go. You don’t need to prep for uni or your course, if you want to then go for it but it’s not expected for most uni’s.
If you haven’t made friends before uni, just talk to people! a thousand people will tell you this but you’re all in the same boat, people will talk to you. Invite someone whos on their own to have lunch with you, or say you’re going to the pub after uni if they want to go, or they might invite you. Doesn’t mean you’re now stuck with them for your whole course, but at least your not sat on your own. saying that, if you prefer to be on your own, do it! I’ve seen so many people come in and finish uni without making any friends to sit with.
Turn up to lectures and seminars. please. It’s such a pain in the arse, I know, especially before midday, it’s horrible. but you will feel so crap if you don’t go, and you realise you don’t know what you’re doing for assignments. I have examples of people that failed because they didn’t show up;
One guy didn’t show up to any seminars or lectures, and one of our assignments was a 5 min presentation. The people who did turn up got to watch everyone else’s presentation so they knew what they needed to present and how. this guy had NO IDEA. He turned up one week before his presentation, asked me if I did mine and I said yeah it was fine etc, he asked us what would happen if we didn’t turn up, which we told him he would fail. So the next week he showed up and presented the complete opposite of what he was asked to do. 5-7 minutes outlining an article, reviewing it, mentioning the author, how it relates to current trends. He got everything wrong. I even think he managed to get his article wrong! He definitely failed. Another guy never showed up, and in a group presentation he didn’t bother to message his team, and they kicked him out, and because he didn’t turn up, he wasn’t put in anyone else’s team. 4 days before the final thing, he asked to come in our team, to which we refused, and he had to defer which probably means he cant graduate with us this summer.
One assignment we had in my final year was a review of 2 seminars. I turned up to 95% of them and still struggled. so please turn up to your lectures and seminars. Look at your assignments regularly, so when you come to a certain lecture you’ll know not to miss it or to pay extra attention so you know what yure doing in your assignments.
Anyone who knows me will know this is silly recommending this, because I didn’t do it at all in my 3 years of uni, but don’t be afraid to share your opinion or speak up in lectures or seminars. In all honesty, people will think you’re intelligent and will think you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t have a scooby doo what’s going on.
Many people spend an ungodly amount of books for their course, and depending on your uni you should get free books and a free library, so I never bought any books. We got one free book per module, so now I have 12 books that are electronic sources. If you get the same, they will be the core books that will help you so much in essays. if you don’t get any free books, you may need some. But I wouldn’t buy any book until I know I needed a specific one. Many people in uni pages also sell their old books at a discount, so that might be worth checking out if you do have to pay.
Essay wise, it’s much more different to school. You need to know how to reference. You won’t pass an essay without referencing. I use a site called ‘citethisforme.com’ and if you find an article, for example, you can copy and paste the URL and it will put it into the referencing style you need (Harvard etc, your uni will tell you which one they want), and this site does it for you. For books, you can search the title and it will autocite, or if not, you can input the details and it will cite it for you. You then copy and paste the bibliography at the end of your essay and boom, you’re an academic. If you’re unsure what referencing is, which I was clueless when I started so this might be useful to some, referencing is finding a source to back up your point. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the PEE chain (point, evidence, example), it’s the same as that, but for the evidence and example you need to find an actual academic source, like a book, journal etc.
My last bit of advice for starting uni is to enjoy it. don’t get too drunk, don’t let yourself get vulnerable, because at the end of the day you don’t know the people you’re with very well. Most importantly, don’t be a lightweight and embarrass yourself by projectile vomiting on your new friend’s carpet because they won’t invite you out again. Enjoy enjoy enjoy, year one will be so easy. If it’s too hard for you, all I can say is good luck with your final year. Uni is not a joke, it’s not a playground it’s not free money. You should be there to learn, so if you’re not interested in turning up to lectures and you’re there to get drunk, don’t go. You’ll regret it so much by the time you finish your first year.
I’m going to add more to this blog as I remember things that may be useful, so if you have any questions, please get in contact by going to the footer and asking a question, or comment on this blog and ill put it in!
Hope this was helpful