Starting Uni

How to make the most of your first year

We know that your first year at university can seem overwhelming at first, especially because it’s such a different learning environment to what you’re used to. And this year, you’ll have more differences to contend with than in previous years.

But, there’s no reason why you can’t still make the most of all the opportunities available and develop valuable skills and habits that will set you up for a successful journey as an undergraduate.

Find your balance

University is a juggling act of studying, part-time jobs, sports, volunteering, socialising, and a lot more responsibilities if you’re living away for the first time and have to navigate bills, grocery shopping and student accommodation.

So, it’s a good idea to try and find a healthy balance between all these commitments in first year, so that when second year comes around you are much more comfortable and don’t need to use up unnecessary energy working out how to live again. Find and perfect your routine; work on your time management skills, think about what matters to you and what you want to get out of your University experience. That said, first year is all about navigating your new journey, so don’t worry if it takes a bit of time to get in the swing of things!

Work on your study techniques

Studying at Uni is definitely different and you’ll need to find out what works best for you. Try different techniques for taking lecture notes, for referencing, for reading and managing your time. Definitely don’t think that because you have less contact time than in A levels (or other previous study) that you won’t have as much work! Don’t worry, there will be plenty of support to help you adjust to Uni learning, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling. But do be prepared that you will have to learn new things about how you learn! If you are concerned or if you’re the kind of person who wants  to be prepared, you can always take a look at the Library’s, My Learning Essentials, which are great, bite sized guides to lots of different study techniques and skills that will help you throughout your Uni career.

Explore Uni life outside your studies

Even though things are slightly different this year, there will still be the opportunity to make the most of traditional uni activities like Students Union societies and volunteering. Your first year is a time when you will have the most time to try new things at university.

Make the most of it, try new things and work out what you like. University is a great place to build new skills and it’s never too early to half an eye on what you might want your future CV to look like. For the University’s flagship Stellify award, for example, you’ll have to make sure that you complete your first Ethical Grand Challenge in your first year. You’ll soon be hearing more about how you can do this.

Remember though if you sign up to a lot of things and suddenly feel very overwhelmed by all the reminder/follow-up emails you’re getting, you don’t have to do everything and you certainly don’t have to do them all straight away. You can always revisit things when you’re ready!

Don’t be afraid to navigate new friendship groups

It can be very tempting to just stick to friends you may already have, or think that the first people you meet must then end up being the friends you remain with throughout your entire university journey. However, joining new clubs and sports, and spending time with a diverse range of people is the best way to really get yourself out there at University and make the most of your time.

Ours are just a few tips to help you start thinking about what kind of Uni experience you want and how to make it happen, but don’t just take our word for it! We have a great team of student bloggers and some of them have shared their tips and advice for starting Uni:

 10 pieces of advice I wish I’d received as a Fresher, by Megan

Why did nobody tell me this! Things I wish I knew to make the most out of first year, by Nana

20 things I wish I knew when I started Uni, by Laura

10 things I’ve learnt from 3 years at University, by Lauren

Above all, enjoy and try not to worry;  you’ll get all the help and support you need to help you success academically, and as for the rest you’ll figure it out – and hopefully have fun doing so!

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