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Things you wish you knew before starting University

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    Many members of TSR will be starting Uni in September, but similarly many people are already at University. So we should join forces like one big happy family.

    Examples,

    1. Do you have any embarrassing stories about Freshers week that could have been avoided?

    2. How is the style of work different?

    3. Is the reading list really that important?

    4. Is it possible to maintain a part time job whilst at Uni?

    5. Halls, roommate etiquette?

    ect

    Thank you and good luck for the fast approaching results day!
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    The big ones I can give decent answers to there are 3. and 4.

    3. I'm not sure what it's like on other courses/universities but for my first year at Durham studying Physics I bought everything on the reading list, spent well over £100 on books. I hardly ever opened them, they were very rarely referenced and I noticed that there were enough in the library that for the few times I did need them, I could have just used the library copies. I'd definitely try to wait until you can get to the university before buying any textbooks, that way you can ask students in the next year if they used theirs, possibly buy them second hand from second years and check library stocks. Hopefully that'll save you a little money.

    4. It completely depends on how much work you need to put into your course, I managed to hold down two part time jobs during my first year. I did about 6 hours a week in a coffee shop and also did campus tours, welcome talks etc. on a weekly basis. I didn't find that the jobs got in the way of my studies/social life too much.
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    This has been done several times before, so have a search.

    I'd say the greatest differences for me are:

    - The work is actually easier and less time consuming than A Levels, and yet you'll still leave it to the last minute.
    - A lot of people go crazy when they have a bit of freedom, so university is much louder than you think it is.
    - Your flatmates are likely to be inconsiderate and dirty.
    - The people you're friends with in college and the first term of university won't be your friends by the end.
    - You can never have too much printer paper and ink.
    - Tumble driers are expensive - get a clothes horse!
    - Fire alarms go off all day and all night, but don't worry, you'll begin having midday naps to keep up your energy.
    - There are usually too few core texts in your library, so ask the people in the years above if they have second hand books to sell - that will save you a lot of money.
    - Learn to cook with herbs as it'll make bland rice and pasta far more interesting without costing much more.
    - It is possible to have a part time job, but I found that the majority of those who did have jobs did less work and therefore did less well, although this is just an observation from my coursemates.
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    (Original post by Worms)
    Many members of TSR will be starting Uni in September, but similarly many people are already at University. So we should join forces like one big happy family.

    Examples,

    1. Do you have any embarrassing stories about Freshers week that could have been avoided?
    No. Embarrassing stories will not occur if you know how to control yourself (but still have fun. There's a difference between being embarrassing and being silly ). Also, in a flat of 8-15 people, chances are you can stay out of the centre of attention as someone there will enjoy being the embarrassment (alternatively, there are more than enough chances to be the fool if that's the angle you're going for :lolwut:).

    2. How is the style of work different?
    Far more independent. There's no more teachers to answer your every question. You actually have to do some reading outside the lectures and seminars to do well. End of. Alternatively, no-one's going to chase you up to make sure you've understood the material and actually done some work. It's all down to you. There'll be no deadline reminders or anything. You have to manage your time yourself.

    3. Is the reading list really that important?
    Depends on your subject. If you're an English student, very much so! But chemistry, less so. However, the books provide invaluable information to help you complete assignments and essays. I would recommend buying the books on the off-chance that you will open them.

    4. Is it possible to maintain a part time job whilst at Uni?
    Don't know. I only knew a few people with part time jobs and they always complained about them. However, they didn't miss out on anything as they had weekend jobs during the day. Just makes catching up on the work that should have been done that week that bit more difficult :lol: . Time's no issue for getting a job, it's the time you're taking away from other things that may be the issue.

    5. Halls, roommate étiquette?
    I don't understand the question. There's some general ground rules that should be common sense, e.g. - Don't nick anybody's food unless you want them very annoyed (trust me, people fall out over this stuff. If you do happen to borrow something, replace it. ASAP). I'm sure you can work out what to do and what not to do. Unless there's a more specific question you want to ask?

    ect

    Thank you and good luck for the fast approaching results day!
    Other things I wish I knew?

    - How annoying fire alarms are. 3am fire alarms aren't great. But it's unifying. Everybody now wants to kill the git that was smoking in his room
    - Time no longer matters. Seriously, do what you want, when you want. Shopping at 11pm? Sure! Tesco's 24 hours. Suddenly get an urge to complete an essay at 4am, why not! Going to the gym at 7am? Go for it! There's no one to stop you anymore.
    - Get a calendar and mark all your important deadlines. You will lose track of time, so it's a useful reminder.
    - Keep spare change. You will need it for the bus/washers.
    - Wash clothes during anti-social hours, it's the only time they'll be available.
    - Group revision time is more effective (for me anyway) than individual revision. When there're 15 of you surrounding a white board trying to figure out a question, you realise just how much they pull you up.
    - Don't destroy friendships. While you're no longer at school with play-ground rules, people can still be really childish :lolwut:
    - Realise that you can make friends anytime of the year. Just get involved at a society! (Very useful information for people who don't like their flatmates).
    - You don't have to live with the people you currently live with next year.
    - Just because your friends from school go to the same university as you, chances are you won't run into them.
    - University is life changing. It's amazing how much you can find out about yourself!

    Finally:
    - Enjoy it. While you can.
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    I'm starting in September (If all goes well).

    (Original post by umop apisdn)
    - Tumble driers are expensive - get a clothes horse!
    I didn't think about that at all.. and what about the washing machines? Do you think most unis have them on campus and are they expensive to use?




    (Original post by Nirgilis)


    Far more independent.
    Yay!

    (Original post by Nirgilis)
    - How annoying fire alarms are. 3am fire alarms aren't great. But it's unifying. Everybody now wants to kill the git that was smoking in his room
    - Time no longer matters. Seriously, do what you want, when you want. Shopping at 11pm? Sure! Tesco's 24 hours. Suddenly get an urge to complete an essay at 4am, why not! Going to the gym at 7am? Go for it! There's no one to stop you anymore.
    - Get a calendar and mark all your important deadlines. You will lose track of time, so it's a useful reminder.
    Hm. I had no idea about the fire alarm thing.. ear plugs to the rescue indeedy.

    The time not mattering also sounds very very beautiful.

    Calendar tip will be added to the list including a clothes horse.

    Thank you!
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    1) The vast majority of people at university are not as intelligent as you might think they should be before you start. The ratio of intellectuals to absolute dunderheids isn't too different from what you get in a standard high school.

    2) Don't go anywhere near the union, the library, or other communal student places during student elections. They are completely and utterly pointless and you will just be harrassed by 20 consecutive morons in the space of 10 yards.

    3) Facebook is pointless. Don't even bother with it.

    4) Textbooks are pointless, don't buy them, don't even think about buying them. If you truly ever need one, it'll either be available for download on a dodgy website, or available in the library. But the chances are that you won't need them... ever.

    5) Most lecturers are terrible at lecturing, and you're better off staying in bed, getting the notes off mates and self-teaching. That's the case for me anyway and I soon learned this trick after a few semesters... attendance in the final 2 years was close to 10%, but still pulled off a first with ease.

    6) Never trust a lecturer's "exam hints". Even if they flat out tell you that x will be in the exam (or, more annoyingly, that it won't be in the exam), don't trust it in the slightest. Treat all exam hints like you never heard them, learn the whole course, otherwise you're spelling disaster for yourself. And contrary to popular belief, if a lecturer says something won't be in the exam, and then it is, you actually can't blame them for your failure. If it's in the syllabus, it CAN come up, so learn it.

    7) People who act cocky in uni and seem to be on top of all things at all times are usually the least capable people, usually on top of nothing at all times. Even immediately after an exam they will give a fist pump and sport a great big cheeser. Come exam results day, everything is different, and you find that the people who were most critical of themselves, least confident and unboastful get the best results.

    8) Don't compare answers with people after exams or even before handing in courseworks. ESPECIALLY not the people I talked about in 7). They'll tell you you're wrong, and you'll doubt yourself, and possibly even change your work to be more in line with everybody else's results. Come results day, you'll regret it. Not only will you be in trouble for plagiarism, but you'll have been wrong when you were originally correct. I don't know how many times I was the only person who got a particular question right and the rest all had the same wrong answer. Democracy doesn't work in academia.

    9) Graduation is nothing but a pointless excuse to rob you of ridiculous sums of money for terrible traditions. Don't go. Get your degree in the mail, save yourself several hundred pounds and celebrate at a venue of your choosing.

    10) Once you get to uni, your parents will cease to be amazed by your actual work, as they'll have no clue what you're on about or what you do. They'll be proud that you're "at uni", but you might as well be doing Underwater Basket Weaving for all they care.
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    (Original post by JessaminePoppy)
    I

    Hm. I had no idea about the fire alarm thing.. ear plugs to the rescue indeed.
    If the fire alarm goes off, it's pretty much standard protocol to evacuate the building. Also very, very fun in the bucketing rain, freezing cold, blizzard-like conditions. I beg everybody reading this, if you want to smoke, for the love of everything, do not try it in your room! :facepalm:

    The time not mattering also sounds very very beautiful.
    It's one of the better things about university indeed :yep:
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    (Original post by JessaminePoppy)
    I'm starting in September (If all goes well).



    I didn't think about that at all.. and what about the washing machines? Do you think most unis have them on campus and are they expensive to use?

    Thank you!

    Washing machines aren't too bad actually, and most campuses have them. They're usually by the halls of residence.

    I'd recommend getting a big bottle of washing detergent before you start. The capsules are very expensive. I bought a massive bottle of Persil that did 75 washes for £8 from Asda, which lasted a (school) year, yet the capsules I got did about 6 washes for £3...
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    1. Do you have any embarrassing stories about Freshers week that could have been avoided?

    Not really, let yourself go and go and make an idiot of yourself! Its what freshers week is for! Everybody is going to be doing the same, its the one chance you'll have all year to full on go wild for a week long with no implications! (Well thats not entirely true depending no what your work effort is like)! Just don't drink so much that you put yourself in hospital!

    2. How is the style of work different?

    University is ridiculously independent, nobody is going to tell you if you're doing something wrong! Sometimes i've found that we don't get told about a certain assignment that is in our uni module handbooks and we're just expected to know about it and have it done for a certain date. Uni work is both easier in some respects as you have a LOT of resources if your university has a good library and you have a lot of creative freedom, but marking can be very harsh.

    3. Is the reading list really that important?

    Yes and no, it varies for all subjects in my opinion it'd certinarly help to read the books and get ahead of the lectures and you're going to have some degree of an upper hand. But i paid for a ton of journalism books before i began my course and one of them i never even opened ... Although another i had to have with me every week for class and if i hadnt of had it i'd be screwed as would all my coursemates. If you're doing law/politics or something with a LOT of depth and different layers books are essential.

    4. Is it possible to maintain a part time job whilst at Uni?

    I cant really answer this as i havent tried, i only have one or two friends out of twenty/thirty odd group at university that has a part time job and whilst it certinarly helps they have only gotten it as they were in dyer need of it as they wasted a lot of money on going out! I see it as you can either live like a true student and be a bit poor and scrape through (After christmas up until summer is a little bit hellish) but still be able to have a good time! Or you can take a part time job and live comfortably but you're going to miss out on the good times your friends are having whilst you're at work.

    5. Halls, roommate etiquette?

    OH LORD! If you're put with someone messy/greedy keep anything important in your bedroom, in a flat of five four of us took too keeping ALL of our plates, knives and forks and food locked in our bedrooms purely for the fact one of the flatmates would constantly use/eat our things and never wash them! But thats only a small possibility! Don't think like that until you've lived with your flatmates for a month or so or else you might come across a tad odd!
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    Try not to forget about these
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    Is it too bad socially if you don't live in uni accomodation?
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    (Original post by ON A GOOD DAY)
    Is it too bad socially if you don't live in uni accomodation?
    I'd highly reccomend you live in university halls of residence for your first year, just to get that full university experience you meet hundreds of new faces and theres some great flat partys to attend! On the other hand if you're a quiet person and are not big on going out or meeting lots of new people there should be no issue in staying away from uni accom!
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    1) nope, but in general it's best not to get too drunk - you don't want to make a bad name for yourself nor do you need to get smashed to have a good time
    2) the fact you have to discipline yourself more and you will often have a big deadline towards the end of term where you might have several things due in, so you need to manage your time. also i wish i had read over my lecture slides/notes other than just before exams! so don't leave learning stuff til the last minute.
    3) depends on your subject - for psychology the lecture slides were pretty much all you needed, but for philosophy i had to do at least the minimum reading required for seminars. don't worry about reading everything if they chuck loads at you, but reading a bit is definitely advised
    4) i think so, definitely in first year anyway, as long as you don't take on too much. i wouldn't advise working more one out of sat/sun and a couple of evenings.
    5) halls are definitely good for meeting people in first year so are a plus in that regard. however if you are in a bigger block (as i was) it can get pretty rowdy and we often had to complain about noise, particularly loud music. so general etiquette i would say would be no loud music after 11pmish, and don't do stupid stuff like destroy equipment and damage the building, as it comes out of everyone's deposit.

    hope this helps for everyone starting the biggest thing I'd say is don't stay in your room on the first day - go and knock on people's doors and say hi.
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    (Original post by umop apisdn)
    Washing machines aren't too bad actually, and most campuses have them. They're usually by the halls of residence.
    I'm a bit confused about how the washing machines/launderette system works, do you have to stay at the washing machine the whole time it's on? And do you just take all your wet stuff back to your room in a bag or does everyone use tumble driers?
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    (Original post by ON A GOOD DAY)
    Is it too bad socially if you don't live in uni accomodation?
    No. It's just more of an effort on your part. In halls, everyone's forced together. There can be hundreds of people in the same block not separated by an doorway - very easy just to travel around and socialise. Plus there are often larger numbers of people per kitchen than in private accommodation, so you have more of an initial friendship group. If you're living at home, you've taken away one mean of getting to know people (the others being course mates and societies), so you have to make more of an effort to get to know people in other ways. Everything works out though, it's just a matter of meeting people, saying hi, and, initially, inviting yourself along to events (in the first few weeks, everybody's under the impression 'the more the merrier', so they won't mind unless you make a bad impression on them)

    (Original post by funsongfactory)
    I'm a bit confused about how the washing machines/launderette system works, do you have to stay at the washing machine the whole time it's on? And do you just take all your wet stuff back to your room in a bag or does everyone use tumble driers?
    You stick your washing in the machine, insert money, door locks, timer comes on. When timer hits 0, door unlocks, if there are people waiting and you're not around, your clothes get dumped on the floor/a table somewhere. So while you don't have to be there, I'd always set an alarm so I could get back 5 minutes before the cycle ended. At off-peak times, there was no problem with leaving your clothes for 10/15 minutes though.

    As for your second question, I'd always use the driers. It's just far more convenient! But not everybody does, and a laundry bag is the usual way of transporting clothes.
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    (Original post by ThisIsTheLife)
    7) People who act cocky in uni and seem to be on top of all things at all times are usually the least capable people, usually on top of nothing at all times. Even immediately after an exam they will give a fist pump and sport a great big cheeser. Come exam results day, everything is different, and you find that the people who were most critical of themselves, least confident and unboastful get the best results.
    lol. And never take the amount of work someone else says they do as any sort of guide as to what you need to be doing, just work out what you need to do to get the marks you want.

    Obviously you really want to be performing at the required level consistently when the marks start counting for your final class... Especially imo in the essay subjects where you need to work like a bloody hero to get marks much above 70% in order to outweigh a dropped ball somewhere else.
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    (Original post by funsongfactory)
    I'm a bit confused about how the washing machines/launderette system works, do you have to stay at the washing machine the whole time it's on? And do you just take all your wet stuff back to your room in a bag or does everyone use tumble driers?
    Use a washing basket. Most people use the tumble drier (if you get your clothes out in time then you don't have to iron them either), but it's about £2 a load to dry which worked out about £4-6 a week for me, on top of the £1 for washing and the washing powder cost.

    Also, most people put their washing in the machine and then went off until it was done - most have timers. You'd always get the people who leave it there, and also those who take your washing out of the washing machine as soon as it's finished. I waited about 5-10 mins before doing so, but laundry etiquette is very vague.

    OH, and to add to the list, don't wear white clothes as that will cost you one more load (unless you don't mind it discolouring slightly in a colour wash)!
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    (Original post by umop apisdn)
    This has been done several times before, so have a search.

    I'd say the greatest differences for me are:

    - The work is actually easier and less time consuming than A Levels, and yet you'll still leave it to the last minute.
    - A lot of people go crazy when they have a bit of freedom, so university is much louder than you think it is.
    - Your flatmates are likely to be inconsiderate and dirty.
    - The people you're friends with in college and the first term of university won't be your friends by the end.
    - You can never have too much printer paper and ink.
    - Tumble driers are expensive - get a clothes horse!
    - Fire alarms go off all day and all night, but don't worry, you'll begin having midday naps to keep up your energy.
    - There are usually too few core texts in your library, so ask the people in the years above if they have second hand books to sell - that will save you a lot of money.
    - Learn to cook with herbs as it'll make bland rice and pasta far more interesting without costing much more.
    - It is possible to have a part time job, but I found that the majority of those who did have jobs did less work and therefore did less well, although this is just an observation from my coursemates.
    OMG I love your username!
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    ... How to tie my shoes? : ((((




    I can't think of anything.
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    I'm going to be starting in sept as a mature student (25) living at home. Even so this thread is brilliant, although I wish I could live in halls and do it properly. Thanks for the tips all, keep them coming!!!

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