The Student Room Group

First year uni advice

Hey,

I’m in my first year of uni and I’m beginning to struggle a little. Since I came back from my reading week I’ve really struggled with motivation and I haven’t been doing as well. Before reading week I was so motivated and my grades were pretty good (65% and above which I was super happy with) but now I’m just flopping.
I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve realised how much I have to learn or what but does anyone have any advice? Is it normal to do badly in first year? I study languages too and some of the mistakes I make are really stupid but the feedback I’ve had is quite harsh.

Thanks!
Reply 1
It's perfectly normal to have your ups and downs. Sounds like you're capable of getting very good grades so this is just an "off" period for you (if your grades really are much lower now, maybe you're being harsh with yourself). If you make grammar mistakes or forget vocab that could be down to being tired over a longer period so maybe some proper rest would do you good. Lecturers and seminar teachers are much harsher than your school teachers so don't take it so personally if their feedback isn't all glitter and smiles. Just keep enjoying being a student, don't let things like this get you down.
Don't take the feedback personally, a lot of universities have anonymous marking so it isn't directed at you on a personal level, they can't tailor it to match their relationship with you so try not to take it to heart.

I did a degree is an unrelated subject to anything I had studied before and I have the same feeling of 'what have I let myself in for, I know nothing compared to the others!' but I just took it one assignment at a time and ended up getting through and onto a MSc as well. Your first year is a chance to learn about how you study best to make the most of it, depending on your course the first year won't be calculated in your final grade (do triple check this!) so use it as a chance to learn and prep for second and third year.
Original post by Anonymous #1
Hey,

I’m in my first year of uni and I’m beginning to struggle a little. Since I came back from my reading week I’ve really struggled with motivation and I haven’t been doing as well. Before reading week I was so motivated and my grades were pretty good (65% and above which I was super happy with) but now I’m just flopping.
I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve realised how much I have to learn or what but does anyone have any advice? Is it normal to do badly in first year? I study languages too and some of the mistakes I make are really stupid but the feedback I’ve had is quite harsh.

Thanks!

Hiya,

I'm a 3rd year cosmology and astrophysics student at Lancaster Uni and completely understand where you're coming from! 1st year is a bit of a whirlwind as you're finding what works for you both within academia and outside of studies, so it is a lot to balance and I find my motivation drops after that mid-point during the term and it's something to assess and see how to get yourself back into good routines where you are willing to put effort into work.
Based off what you have mentioned about feedback, it's normal to receive harsh feedback at the start of your degree as it's the first time you are doing work at this level, being marked against new criteria, so don't beat yourself up about it too much but take it as something to improve on for next time or ask your lecturer how you can reduce silly mistakes in the future.
In terms of course content, you can divide it up into more manageable chunks to study each week, especially during the holidays so you don't get overwhelmed during term time too much.

Overall, 1st year is such a big learning curve but its the ideal time to make these sort of mistakes to find what works best for you when managing workload / having a social life / taking breaks / doing well in work / etc. It's very normal for people to not do well in 1st year as it's one big adjustment to uni life as a whole, but don't worry too much about it all! Talk to your lecturerers about feedback, speak to others in your course about how they manage the course content and you'll slowly get your motivation back, sometimes you just need a break!

I hope this helps and if you have any other queries, feel free to ask!
--Arya (Lancaster University Student Ambassador)
Original post by Anonymous #1
Hey,

I’m in my first year of uni and I’m beginning to struggle a little. Since I came back from my reading week I’ve really struggled with motivation and I haven’t been doing as well. Before reading week I was so motivated and my grades were pretty good (65% and above which I was super happy with) but now I’m just flopping.
I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve realised how much I have to learn or what but does anyone have any advice? Is it normal to do badly in first year? I study languages too and some of the mistakes I make are really stupid but the feedback I’ve had is quite harsh.

Thanks!

Hi there,

firstly I'm sorry to hear that you are feeling this way, but be reassured there is nothing wrong with feeling this way and you won't be the only one.

I'm a second year student and myself have sometimes struggled with a lack of motivation. Finding what works for you at university takes time and considering undertaking a degree is pretty full on you are bound to experience ups and downs in your motivation, but that doesn't mean you've lost it all together. For myself, I know that I lose a lot of my motivation to work as the day goes on. Therefore, when I have classes in the afternoon I try to do a bit of work in the mornings. This way after my afternoon classes I can often take it easier and am a bit more at ease knowing I did some work - even if only a little - that morning.

I think it's important not to overwhelm yourself. As term draws to a close lots of deadlines approach and the sheer amount of work can be overwhelming. You may sit down to work and have so much to do that you don't know where to start or don't have the motivation. On these days I try and break my tasks down. For example if I have a Lab report due as coursework, I find staring at a blank document rather daunting. Therefore, I often start with the part of the report I find easiest, that way you are at least progressing. I also find it useful to take breaks doing what I enjoy. I love getting coffee in cafes, so I will say to myself "I'll do 2 hours work" or "I'll finish the Methods section of my Lab report" and then I will go and grab a coffee with my friends as a short break.

As for mistakes, you're human so don't beat yourself up too much. We all make mistakes and if you didn't you wouldn't need to be at university in the first place as you would already know everything. Sometimes feedback may be quite harsh and its tough especially when you've put a lot of effort into the work. Just try and remember that it's not personal. Lecturers/PhD students have to mark hundreds of papers, so short and concise comments may sound harsh but might just be a result of having to grade so many students under time pressure.

I wouldn't be worried about doing badly in your first year. First year doesn't count towards your final degree qualification for this exact reason. Adjusting to university life is hard and its a completely new style of learning and assessment, therefore nobody aces it first try. Just keep doing your best.

Take a deep breath and try taking a step back from your work. Give yourself a weekend off, relax, do something you enjoy. You may find that come Monday your motivation has returned somewhat. Apart from that know that most, if not all, university students struggle with motivation at some point (most of us on the weekly 😂). Experiment, find what works for you, and most importantly take breaks! Wishing you all the best in your studies, you got this!!

Aimée (Lancaster University Student Ambassador)
Original post by Anonymous #1
Hey,

I’m in my first year of uni and I’m beginning to struggle a little. Since I came back from my reading week I’ve really struggled with motivation and I haven’t been doing as well. Before reading week I was so motivated and my grades were pretty good (65% and above which I was super happy with) but now I’m just flopping.
I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve realised how much I have to learn or what but does anyone have any advice? Is it normal to do badly in first year? I study languages too and some of the mistakes I make are really stupid but the feedback I’ve had is quite harsh.

Thanks!

Hey,

Similar to above, 1st year definitely tends to be all over the place in terms of grades! Since 1st year is generally not counted towards your final degree classification, it's a good time to get to grips with what you're doing and trying to recognise what works/doesn't work. I think I finished with a lower second class in the first year, but then managed to get a first in second year and then overall in third year, so I'd say it doesn't reflect what you're going to get in your final degree! I would say, whilst the feedback is harsh which is annoying, try to not take it personally and actually really take on board what they're saying, in order to ensure you're improving each time.

Please don't stress & best of luck with everything!
Natalie
University of Kent Student Rep
Original post by Anonymous #1
Hey,

I’m in my first year of uni and I’m beginning to struggle a little. Since I came back from my reading week I’ve really struggled with motivation and I haven’t been doing as well. Before reading week I was so motivated and my grades were pretty good (65% and above which I was super happy with) but now I’m just flopping.
I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve realised how much I have to learn or what but does anyone have any advice? Is it normal to do badly in first year? I study languages too and some of the mistakes I make are really stupid but the feedback I’ve had is quite harsh.

Thanks!

Anon,

It sounds like the adrenaline of starting university and your chosen subject has gone and that's normal.

A degree is not a sprint; it's a long distance run. It sounds like now is the time where you need to find a comfortable pace to manage work before pushing again in the second and third year.

It is easy to make silly mistakes and it's frustrating because you know they are silly mistakes, but that also means they are easy to correct. Perhaps, you can take some time to read over your work when you have a fresh mind before submitting assignments. It may be finishing your work, cooking dinner and then coming back and checking your work. It might be finishing your work in the evening and checking your work in the morning rather than submitting something at 11pm when you're eyes are tired or it could just be distracting your mind for 10 minutes e.g. reading your emails etc... before coming back to check your work. Coming back to your work after a bit of time will hopefully help you spot the small mistakes that you may have made.

Remember some people try to encourage the best out of people by being super positive and others try and get the best out of people by being harsh, so that people feel the need to prove themselves and to show that person that they can do better. You may do better with praise, but either way, try to see feedback as a means of encouragement.

Finally, don't be too harsh on yourself or try to push yourself too hard. Learning a language takes time! If you can put yourself in a good position for second year then that's great, but remember you don't have everything sorted this year.

Keep running!

All the best,

Oluwatosin 3rd year student University of Huddersfield

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