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Making the Most out of First Year: 10 Essential Tips

FreshersStudentsTips and Advice

Starting university can be a daunting experience and for many it’s the first time living away from home. With so many different things on your schedule, first year will be over before you know it. So, follow these 10 tips on to make the most out of your first year at university!

1. Join Societies

One of the best ways to meet new people outside of your halls is through joining as many societies as possible. Whilst you may find that you only stick with a few, it gives you the opportunity to try new things. Joining societies in first year will also let you get your foot in the door if you’re looking at potentially being on a society’s committee in the future.

2. Get involved with sport

Joining a sports team is a great way to take time out of academic life a few times a week and lets you meet people that you otherwise wouldn’t have ran in to. Make sure you keep an eye out for information about any try outs in the first few weeks of term as this is usually when they take place. Even if you don’t make it on to a team, societies based around degree subjects often have their own sports teams which are more relaxed and don’t require too much commitment.

3. Go to socials

If you do end up joining a society or sports team, they will likely have regular drinking and non-drinking socials so make sure to keep an eye out for dates on their social media and emails. Even though fresher’s week is busy as it is, it is important to try and attend the first few socials so you meet everyone who is also new rather than waiting until everyone knows each other!

4. Stay on top of things

One of the most popular sayings heard in first year has to be “don’t worry, first year doesn’t count”. Whilst this may be true for most, it doesn’t mean that your degree comes below everything else. It’s so important to stay on top of your work and to get into a routine with your lectures and seminars, as by the time second and third year comes around, it won’t be such a shock to the system. Keeping a diary or planner can be great for scheduling academic and social things so that they don’t clash.

5. Call your parents

When you go off to uni it’s easy to become involved in your own life and to stay in your own bubble. Even if you haven’t thought about your family in weeks, make an effort to schedule a time in the week to talk to them. They will appreciate it and it will help you feel less disconnected from home life in the long run.

6. Ask questions

For some, the jump from A Levels to University in terms of work can be overwhelming. With a different grading system and different ways of assessment, it is easy to get confused. Don’t be afraid to email your tutor or lecturer as they will always be happy to help. Don’t leave it until exam period when you’re desperately trying to understand what the lecturer was talking about in week 3 lecture 2!

7. Look out for student discounts

Take advantage of being a student by looking out for student discounts wherever possible, as your ID can save you money on things from clothing to railcards. Some supermarkets offer student discount so you can save on your weekly food shop, as do many restaurants!

8. Budget!

For many, your student loan will be the most amount of money you’ve had in your own bank account, so it’s important to keep track of it. It’s easy to spend most of it in the first few weeks of term (and having to live off baked beans until your next instalment), so make sure you budget and monitor your spending. You don’t want to be spending the summer paying off your overdraft.

9. Do the reading

It’s easy to just skip the required reading for your seminars, especially if they are optional. However, you will end up having to do it at some point and it’s much better to stay on top of it from the beginning rather than trying to cram it all in during your exam period. There’s nothing worse than sitting in the seminar and having no idea what the discussion is about, as it’s a waste of time and you’ll probably get grilled on it!

10. Try not to stress!

The most important tip is try not to let academic work get the better of you. There is always support if you feel stressed and overwhelmed and in first year there is really no need. Attend your lectures and keep on top of work as much as possible and it will all be fine!
GRB Blog Author and Student - Izzy Walker

Izzy is a third year English and Philosophy student at the University of Nottingham. Her favourite book is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and she enjoys going to the gym, writing and going for brunch. She hopes to follow a career in publishing in the future.

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