Today's post is about becoming prepared for university, or What would I say to my 18 year old-self regarding university? This was a question asked by Deborah-Jane, whose daughter is going to university next year. I know I haven't been writing about studenthood much lately, so I'm glad to be writing this post to help people thinking of going to university!
What would I say to my 18 year old-self regarding university?
Before I went to uni, I really wanted to know what it was like, because no-one in my family had ever gone before, so I knew nothing about it. I wanted to find some young-peoples' fiction about it, to see what the day-to-day experience was like, but I never did. So this is what I would say to myself now:
University isn't like school, it's actually a whole way-of-life. Mostly so if you live away from home, especially in halls; if you live at home, it might feel different. When you live in Halls (which the majority of 1st Years do), you are surrounded by students; you may travel to campus everyday on a bus surrounded by students; you spend all day in lectures and the library surrounded by students; and, if you live in catered halls, you eat in the canteen with students. It's very different to being at home and school, but in a good way, and it's easy to transition into this new environment, if you go with the flow!
You do need to do a lot of work, definitely more than at school! Think of your course as a full-time job, around 40 hours of work per week. You will be expected to read a lot, and learn a lot of information. Expect to have weekly work, including set books or articles to read, perhaps a little test or two, and at least one essay for each module per term. Also, there will be the big exams at the end of term- make sure you write revision notes regularly (after each lecture would be ideal), so that you don't have to catch-up all subjects at once!
University is about independent work- you are set work in your lectures, seminars and tutorials, with instructions, and a bit of extra guidance if you ask your tutor, but otherwise you are expected to do the work mostly yourself. You can work with your classmates, but remember that you are at uni for your own education, so make sure you put the work in yourself! Don't let your classmates do all the work for you! And importantly, assessed work, especially essays etc, are supposed to be independent- if your teachers suspect you have been working with someone else on your work, UNLESS it is a joint or team project, then you will be in big trouble!
I used to worry about silly little things, like how people would think about me, what I should dress like, will they judge me by my appearance?
No-one cares about what you look like. Or, at least in my experience, they don't! University is much more grown-up than school, and people tend not to judge you so much by what you look like. Not to mention, people tend to think of uni as a place where you can be yourself- no rules about what you can or can't wear, or do your hair or make-up like at school- if you want green hair and nose-studs, feel free!! If you want to wear no make-up today, then people won't care, because they judge you by your actions and your personality instead!
Being the first person in my family to go to uni, I had no-one to give me specific advice about university- which is one of the reasons why I write this blog, so that I can give advice to new students! Now I have lots of info to share to others. And one major thing I should tell you about uni is: it's not that scary!!
It's a big responsibility, and it's not a walk in the park- but it's all manageable! It takes a lot of time, energy, and requires a lot of motivation. You might not get a lot of sleep some nights, and have to neglect your social life, but it is all worth it! It's such a satisfying experience, and it's fun; you get to meet so many amazing people, it feels like such an achievement, and you are doing something for yourself, to help your future, which is so satisfying!! If you feel like you are struggling, there will be a great support network at your uni, so use them. Make friends, have fun, don't drink too much, work hard, play hard, and do well! You will only do your degree once (hopefully!), so make the most of it!
I've written about a few of the pieces of advice I wish I could have told my 18 year old-self- but there are many more things I could talk about!
Do you have any questions? Write them in the comments below!