So, you’ve done it.
You’ve clocked in the hours to curate the perfect UCAS application, hit the big ‘submit’ button, waited patiently for the outcome, and decided to pursue the next stage of your academics at the University of Manchester. Congratulations, the seeds have been sowed!
Time has a way of whizzing by when you’re not paying attention, and your few years at university may pass by faster than you think. So, how can you make the most out of your university experience?
Attending classes and burning midnight oils to meet deadlines are rites of passage for university students; the key to maximising your university experience lies outside of academics, and here are five ways through which you can enrich your student life.
#1 Sign Up For Societies
If there is only one thing I can recommend to all incoming or current university students, it would be to join a society. With over 600 clubs to browse through on the university’s Student Union website, surely something will catch your eye!
Allow me to dive into an anecdote: Ever since signing up for the Malaysian Students’ Society of Manchester, I had the honour of knowing an abundance of people from all walks of life, many of whom I consider my closest friends today. I eventually ran for a committee position and have honed many soft and hard skills in my tenure thus far.
Even if you are not keen on pursuing a position, being a part of student societies will connect you with people who harbour the same interests and passions as you do. It’s so much more than merely making friends too! Simply interacting and learning from others enables you to explore topics beyond your major, teaching you more than what a lecture hall can offer.
#2 I Volunteer As Tribute!
The university also provides a range of volunteering opportunities that you can peruse at the Volunteer Hub. It goes without saying that volunteering for any activity, not only those related to your career prospect, will buttress your resume while sharpening your qualifications.
Participating in volunteering work displays your initiative and desire to make an impact within your community, which are qualities valued by employers and recruiters. Moreover, it usually entails collaborating with others and solving problems independently, consequently refining your teamwork capabilities and resourcefulness. Let’s not forget that volunteering is a prime opportunity to engage with social issues, both big and small, which will deepen your roots within your newfound community.
In the unlikely scenario that you do not gain anything from volunteer work, remember that your time and effort goes toward helping a good cause, be it a stranger or the city itself. In short, volunteering helps yourself and others, resulting in a win-win scenario!
#3 Venture Outside Those Modules
While the UK university system offers fewer electives compared to its US counterparts, the option still exists for our university students. Let’s be honest, there come waves when we are tired of studying purely material related to the singular major we are pursuing, and learning new topics can feel like coming up for fresh air – taking electives unrelated to your course is one of the most effective ways to do that! Lucky for us, the university offers UCIL units that students can take up on top of mandatory course modules, or certain courses permit you to exchange your credits for a UCIL unit. From artificial intelligence to extraterrestrial life, sustainability to cybersecurity, and equality to mental health, the topics tackled by UCIL units are relevant to contemporary issues and are sure to take you beyond your major.
The best part? To accommodate for what I’m sure is already a busy schedule, you can choose for your UCIL units to be delivered online, face-to-face, or in a blended manner.
#4 Seek Out Mentors
Amidst the sea of people I have met in my first year, one of whom I’m most grateful for is my personal tutor. He has supported me in my essay-writing by providing constructive criticism and helped me enrol in course units best suited for the career path I intend on pursuing.
I have also connected with seniors from my course to gain more insight into my major and specific modules. They’ve been of tremendous help in my figuring out which credits to prioritise and even which lecturers can truly widen my vision.
University is a place that encourages individual learning and taking initiatives rather than the traditional spoon-feeding of information. With this in mind, it’s beneficial to identify who you can go to for aid when you need information and can’t locate it.
Mentors such as personal tutors and seniors are often more than happy to discuss course materials, provide academic assistance, and help with just about anything from time management to career pathways. These are people who have been through your current stage of university and can introduce perspectives and prospects that you have yet to consider!
#5 Take Me Anywhere
While it may seem like you have to be seated in front of a heap of books with your eyes glued to your laptop screen day in and day out to make the most out of your university career, don’t forget the great big world out there! Being able to study abroad is already an experience in itself, but why not enhance that and increase your exposure by travelling whenever you get the chance?
I have yet to visit any European countries as I’d like, but in the past five months of being here, I’ve hopped on a train to four neighbouring cities in the UK, each one varying in what it has to offer in terms of food, culture, and people. Taking feasible, spontaneous trips will not only keep your semester refreshing but also doubles as a break you most likely deserve after those all-nighters you’ve pulled.
Don’t be afraid to call up a friend, purchase a ticket, and take your eyes off those academic materials! University is a great big orchard with so many kinds of fruits to offer, and you won’t know how sweet they are unless you reach up and take a bite.