It’s that time of year again. A-Level results day has been and gone, clearing’s all over, and the next generation of first years are embarking on an educational foray into adulthood.
After the success of last year’s 5 Tips for Starting University, I thought I’d share 5 more of my tips. I have been to uni twice now, so I do kind of know what I’m talking about, guys. Hope they help!
Do some work experience and internships, if you can. Make sure your CV isn’t completely empty. Grab any opportunities you can with both hands. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your course either. For instance, I studied an arty Joint Honours degree, but volunteered at my local hospital. On one occasion, in a job interview, an interviewer told me that it was that placement that got me the interview in the first place. So get as much experience outside your course as possible!
Don’t overdo the drinking. Go out and have fun, by all means, but don’t go over the top. Your fellow students won’t appreciate it when you turn up to every single lecture or seminar hungover and grumpy. Especially if your course contains a lot of group work, like mine did. You need to maintain a good work/life balance, but don’t let your grades suffer at the hands of going out all the time. You’ll have to rein it in eventually.
Halls or home?
Do whatever feels right for you. I personally stayed at home both times, which saved heaps of money, but it also impacted on the social side of uni. I knew that I probably wouldn’t be happy with living in halls, so I ended up commuting instead. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing one or the other. It really does depend on what feels right for you.
What if it’s all too overwhelming?
If you’re struggling to adapt to uni life, there are people available to support you. Go to your SU and ask for them to put you in touch with someone who might be able to help. Just remember that it will get better, and everybody worries about whether they’re on the right course or whether uni is right for them from time to time; but just stick at it. It’s all worth it when you get to prance about in a mortarboard and cape thing.
Don’t blow your student loan in one go
Don’t spend all your loan and bursary when you first get it. Try and be sensible here. Work out how much money you’ve got to spend each week, and stick to it. I know it’s tempting to nip into the MAC store and blow it all on lipsticks, but you can’t afford to. Take it from someone who was terrible with their student loan. You don’t want to have to go crawling back to mum and dad for a loan because you’ve spent all your cash weeks before your next payment. Try and keep a track of your finances. Trust me, it’s important to.
And here’s a bonus tip for recent graduates: Don’t panic when your student loan statements arrive. Every single year I get a statement with a perpetually rising figure, due to interest that I never signed up to pay, but I’m not earning enough money to pay anything back yet. What my friends have been telling me for ages has finally sunk in: there’s no point in worrying about it, because there’s nothing you can do right now. Just accept it, and try to put that horrifying amount of debt to the back of your mind for now.
What advice would you have for new students?