The Student Room Group

A Guide to Your First Year: Tips for Success and Peace of Mind

Congratulations on your exciting journey to the world of university life! :colone:As you prepare to step into this new chapter filled with new experiences and opportunities, there is nothing wrong with feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness. To help you make the most of your first year and beyond, here is a guide to help you understand what to expect, how the academic year runs, and how to be well-prepared for a successful start.

1. Academic independence

One of the most significant changes you'll notice in university is the level of independence. University places a strong emphasis on independent learning. Attendance during classes is only a small portion of what is expected from you and what constitutes your overall grades, along with the academic success.

You will be expected to conduct your research, complete readings, work on different assignments, and so on. As a result, you will have the freedom to manage your time. Use this newfound independence wisely - set clear goals for yourself, develop effective study habits and prioritise your responsibilities.

2. Challenging knowledge

University courses can be more demanding and in-depth than it used to be in high school. You will be exposed to a new and more complex portion of knowledge. You will also be encouraged and expected to develop a deeper level of critical thinking. Attend lectures regularly, participate in class actively, complete compulsory reading, and seek help when needed.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. I have discovered that professors are always more than happy to support us and address any doubts. They have office hours when they can dedicate more time to you, discuss your coursework and academic goals.

You should have assigned a personal tutor who is there to provide academic guidance and support. This is the right person to reach out to for assistance or to discuss any academic concerns.

3. Variety of learning and assessment styles

Be prepared to adapt to different learning environments. Your degree program will offer a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, labs, and independent study. Experiment with study techniques to find what works best for you, whether it is taking detailed notes or printing and complementing professor's powerpoint presentations.

Accordingly, assessment methods can vary, including essays, reports, exams, presentations, group projects, and so on. Pay close attention to your first classes when course syllabus will be explained along with assessment details and deadlines. Make sure to note important information and save the dates in your calendar.

4. If you want to make the most of it (here you can read what you can actually do), time management is key

Balancing academic responsibilities, extracurricular activities, work (in some cases), and a social life can be definitely challenging. Develop strong time management skills early on. Create a daily and weekly schedule using a planner or digital calendar to allocate any responsibilities you will have (including dedicated study time for each module!) and keep track of any deadlines. Make sure you avoid procrastination.

I do not want you to feel overwhelmed or scared. I know it sounds like a lot of tasks and responsibilities, but with a good planning you can be incredibly efficient and achieve any goals you set for yourself. You can read more about and get inspired by my effective daily schedule here.

5. Social life

As I already mentioned and as you can read here, university is much more than just getting a degree. It is also a place to make lifelong friends and expand your horizons.

Attend orientation/freshers' week filled with a wide spectrum of social events and opportunities to meet new people. Join clubs or societies that align with your interests or allow you to try something completely new and exciting! You will be surprised how your overall university experience can grow.

There is no need to wait, join the community groups for freshers right now. A multitude of them are created, and those on Facebook are particularly popular. It can be comforting to connect with people who, just like you, are joining this new chapter in life.

6. Health and well-being

Remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a key to being able to enjoy your life and make the most of it. Take care of your physical and mental health at all times. Eat balanced meals, get involved in some physical activity (it is extremely easy at university), consider exploring relaxation and medication techniques to manage stress, and sleep enough. Do not forget to register with a local doctor's practice. Many universities offer their own practice on campus :biggrin:

Mental health is equally important. University can be demanding, so self-care is crucial to maintain your well-being. Seek help from university counselling services if you struggle or feel overwhelmed.

7. Budgeting

Managing your finances will be a valuable skill, especially since you are starting an adult life. Create a budget that will cover all essential expenses, track them, and be mindful of student loans and scholarships available to you. As a student living independently you will have to think about costs of tuition fees, accommodation, food, transportation, and leisure.

Sometimes from the very beginning it is a big shock, so it is better to prepare in advance. The best option is a simple excel table to illustrate your budget and upcoming expenses. As a student, you can easily save money or find a part-time job. For these and other tips I refer you to the article on budgeting and saving.

8. Career and future formation

Do you want to have an enjoyable and satisfying job with even more satisfying income before you turn 30? Only you decide whether it is possible or not. The first step is to begin thinking about your future career early on. University is a stepping stone. I know it is hard to come up with a plan for yourself but it is not an excuse to do nothing.

Set an appointment with career services to received guidance for setting your long-term goals and future internship, placements, volunteering and job opportunities. Do not forget to attend career fairs because networking with professors and professionals can also open doors to exciting career prospects.

9. International students

As I am one of you guys, I could not leave you without a piece of advice. Familiarise yourself with visa requirements and support services available for you. Make sure to follow the regulations, especially since there are not many of them, but these are the conditions on which you can be here.

You also have the privileges of additional international support. You can get help setting up a bank account, getting a NIN number, etc. Some universities offer a lot of trips and integration activities for international students as well. Take advantage of the opportunity to experience new cultures and perspectives.

10. Information is right in front of you

Keep an eye on university emails, announcements, and online platforms for important updates and academic information. If, like me, you like to know and be prepared for everything, that is what this pre-October spam is for. Very often, a slow reading of an email will answer all your questions.

I wish you all an amazing start :wink: You have the greatest opportunity ahead of you to grow as a incredible individual and create unforgettable memories during upcoming years. Enjoy the ride!

If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to help. You can also chat with me and other student ambassadors on The Ambassador Platform here.

Take care,

Julia :h:

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