Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Things You Wished You Had Known Before Uni?

Hello readers! As you may or may not know, I am beginning my first semester at university in a few days. I am not scared at all. NOT AT ALL. But anyway, even if I was, I thought it would be really helpful if we could all get some advice from real people who have gone through university, and heard about some of the things they wished they had known before they had unpacked their bags on that very first day. 

Of course, every experience at university is completely subjective. You will never go through exactly the same thing as someone else. However, it is worth remembering that at university, a lot of people start off freshers week with a few of the same emotions. Some people are worried about making friends, some are excited to party every night into the early hours, some are nervous about the amount of work that are sure to hit them once lectures begin.

So I've been on Twitter and hunted down some bloggers who are happy to share their experiences with us- the good and the bad- all about starting university and how to make the most of it once you get there. I hope you all find this useful!

Amy McCaw is a primary school teacher and book blogger at www.yaundermyskin.co.uk (@yaundermyskin on Twitter)

My first piece of advice might sound controversial, but here goes… Don’t do all of the recommended reading. Before you throw your books through the window and cheer, bear with me. A lot of lecturers will tell you to read three or four chapters on the same subject. Factor in having three or four lectures a day, and I wasted too much time reading the same information over and over again. Choose one of the recommended texts that seems to be the most readable and related to your lectures. Then if you’re especially diligent, repeat this process with another text. 
Find the right balance between work and having a life. A lot of first years get carried away with their social lives, and find themselves with thumping heads in lectures (or don’t turn up at all.) At first, I went the opposite way, disappearing behind a mountain of textbooks and highlighters. Enjoy your first taste of freedom, but try not to go overboard. Your grades and your waistline will be the first things to go!

What my first few weeks were like…

I have a terrible sense of direction, so a lot of my early memories involve wandering in increasing panic around the university campus. The work was a lot more intense than I was used to, but it didn’t take too long to get into a manageable rhythm. Don’t panic if you haven’t met your best new friends in the first few weeks, as I didn’t find my closest two friends until much later in the year. 

Ailsa Floyd graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2014. She runs the book review blog The Book Bundle ( http://thebookbundle.blogspot.com ) and tweets at https://twitter.com/AilsaCF

I was confident starting university. I'd just taken a gap year where I worked a ski season in France then summer at a camp in the USA so I was comfortable living away from home and sure it would be easy enough to make friends. Unfortunately it didn't turn out that way. I got on with my flatmates but they didn't go out much & we didn't have the same interests in the societies we wanted to go to. Each of my lectures had about 200 people in - an intimidating amount when you're trying to find a friend. Everywhere I thought I should be able to meet people and make friends, it seemed like people already had their friend groups and I felt awkward about trying to break in to a group that had already formed. For example, each of my classes had a small group tutorial once a week. Over the year, I had several tutorials with the same girl, who always seemed to have a close friend with her and not really the sort of person I'd get on with, so despite our shared classes I never tried to talk to her. Well, in 4th year she was one of my flatmates! It took a while but eventually I met people I fitted in with, and it was so easy.

I've learned since first year that struggling to find friends at first at uni isn't an uncommon problem. People just don't like to admit that they're having a hard time, which isn't surprising really - I would never have told my mum that I had no friends! The best advice I can give is relax, try not to worry too much about it. You will find wonderful friends at university, but remember sometimes it takes a little looking - like dating, you won't find your perfect fit straight away. And those people sitting together in your class every day probably don't know each other as well as you think and would be happy to welcome you in as well. Don't be put off by appearances.

And finally, here's Cherie Coco, who blogs at www.wordpress.com/samytshimanga. This is a US perspective on starting university, so I hope this helps my American readers!

Hello, I am guest posting for the beautiful Alix Long. I myself graduated from college in 2013. However I started college at the tender age of 17 so I was in a whole new world and not the slightest bit prepared on the long journey called college. I attended a local university in my hometown, so I was still close to home which was nice (at times). So I will give you some things I wish I knew before starting college.

My first semester of college, I spent about $800 on books (that’s ridiculous) however as I started talking to older and seasoned students, they introduced me to Chegg.com, Half.com and other cheap ideas to get quality text books. The only time I bought books from the bookstore is if they were workbooks or the professor wrote the book themselves (which was a common theme). 

I like to think of the syllabus as a binding contract between the professors and students. Usually whatever is on the syllabus is usually what the professor will go by. Unless the syllabus states “To be changed” j ust think of that syllabus as their word.  That syllabus saved me so many times anywhere from exams, papers and tests.  So read as soon as you get it. Highlight the important dates so you won’t forget it. 

Coming from high school where things are different, it could be quite intimidating to go speak to your professor. Those office hours Are for you! So use them! If you need clarity on a paper or you need assistance on an assignment go to your professor? I promise they are not scary. Professors almost see you as a colleague of yours. Also if your professor recognizes your efforts inside and outside the classroom, they will be much more willing to write a recommendation letter or better yet bump your grade from an A- to A.  

Things happen all the time. So sometimes you might need to miss class. So you missed class, what now? You need the notes, right? The best way to get the notes is from a classmate. Exchange numbers/emails etc. Plus it will work out to have someone you trust to have your back in class and vice versa. Making a friend in class is another person in your network as well. A very essential part of college is growing your network. 

My last thing I wish I knew is that: IT’S OK TO CHANGE YOUR MAJOR ! 
I cannot stress this enough. There is nothing wrong with changing your major but just make sure that you don’t do too often or else you end up with all these extra unnecessary classes. So my best piece of advice is if you are not entirely sure, go Undecided or Undeclared.  Everyone in their 1st year has to take some of the same classes anyway. That way you are still taking classes towards a major just you have not made a decision. I changed my major 3 times, from Biology to Nursing and I ended up graduating with Bachelors in Political Science. 
So it’s okay! 

Thanks Alix for letting me guest post for you. I hope this advice helps someone else out there. Also good luck to the new students starting their first year in College. 
Enjoy the ride! It will be all worth it.

I hope this helps, everyone! 

If you're heading off to university this year, or just getting ahead and doing your research, good luck with it. Don't forget, there's plenty of support if you need someone to talk to or just a little bit of encouragement.

Until next time :) 

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