Five things to expect from second year at university

Nobody ever talks about the second year of uni. Everyone's all 'freshers this' or 'graduation that', but what about that crucial year in the middle? Is it really just the same as the first, minus the living-in-halls bit? 

Well, no. Second year at uni is a whole new experience; for one thing, you're not a fresher any more. Here, soon-to-be-third-year Luke lifts the lid on what second year is really like.


1. You're going to be doing (a lot) more work

Probably not quite what you wanted to hear, but hear me out. When I completed my first year and reflected back on it, I felt it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it would be. If anything it felt similar to A-levels. I managed to come out with a low 2.1 and I didn’t put in as much effort as I should have done.

Going into second year, I assumed it would be harder. Boy was I right. You’re expected to create your own essay titles and plan out your projects – with help from tutors of course. 

Although don’t expect them to hold your hand like they might have done in the first year. They are there to guide you, but you will find yourself doing more independent work than ever before. It may sound daunting, but it is really rewarding. 

When you complete an essay, after ploughing tens of hours into research and writing (that’s not including the many more editing and referencing!) and you earn yourself a 2.1 or even a first, then it’s a brilliant feeling - the feeling that it was your hard work that earned you the grade. It gives you something to be proud of.


2. Life outside halls can be difficult

Welcome to the world of private accommodation, estate agents and landlords. This can be the biggest challenge of second year. If you’re lucky then you will get a landlord that will give you no hassle and will fix things in record time. But if you're not... 

If you have any major problems that can’t be solved amicably with the landlord, or through the estate agent, then visit your university’s housing department as they will be able to give you important advice. 

If you're yet to sign a contract, make sure you read it properly. 

Estate agents may claim to have your interests at heart, but it's wise not to rush into anything. If you’re unsure about certain legal terms, then your university should be able to help you and guide you to the best decision.

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3. Bills, bills, bills...

Don't let bills make your second year a nightmare. In first year, your water, electricity and gas was sorted out for you by the university. In second year, you've got to pay those bills. 

Start by scouring the market for the best deal. There are two ways that you can approach utility bills, the first being to ring up companies individually and sort out a contract with them. The second way is to go with a bill splitting company, who will take care of sorting out the issues with the utility bills. Something to be mindful of is that they will take a small commission.

Two other bills that have the ability to catch people out are TV licenses and council tax. Depending on your area, you will have to pay council tax. For example, in Brighton if your house or flat is just students then you don't have to pay. 

It used to be that you only needed a TV licence if you were watching/streaming live TV. From 1 September 2016, that's changed. You now need a licence if you're watching any BBC programmes - even if they're on-demand via iPlayer. 


4. What goes up, must come down

I present to you a simple equation – if the workload goes up, then it is inevitable that your social time will go down. 

If you try to maintain similar levels of going out that you had in first year, your grades will suffer. I've seen it happen and it isn't pretty when someone realises that they've mucked up their third year because of their final grade in second year.

That doesn’t mean you can’t go out; quite the opposite. I've actually gone out more than I ever did in first year. What you need to avoid is still being out at 3am when you've got important lectures or seminars the next day. Plus, that means fewer hangovers (always is a good thing.)

The simple fact is: second year counts.

5. I can't wait to start secon- oh, hello third year!

Expect second year to go quick. Very quick. 

Due to the increased workload, the days seem to fly by. You will encounter more exams and essays, depending on your course, during the term. One minute you'll be getting the introduction lectures in your module and before you know, you're looking ahead to another summer.

Enjoy university while it lasts. Yes, it may stress you out at times, but you won't get to do this again. Make the most of it.

What are your experiences of second year? Add your thoughts and comments below. 


More on TSR: 
Everything you need to know about applying to uni 
Need advice on student accommodation? Visit our page right here 
Chat to others about life as a university student