Everyone has their own unique Freshers’ Week experience. You may have spent it getting to know the knitting club and creating a scarf in preparation for Autumn. You may have spent it charging through the highlights of central London. The likelihood is that it was somewhere in between (and if it was both, we’d love to see the scarf you made), but however you spent it, Freshers' Week is one brilliant experience. After that there are many more weeks of uni life to look forward to.
Life after Freshers' Week falls into three broad parts: academic, social and enjoyment. So how do you make the most of each one? We got some tips from the team at University of Roehampton which is in south west London.
The ‘study’ part of being a student can come as a shock after the delights of Freshers’ Week. Never fear: with a little effort it will all come together.
First of all, when it comes to books and equipment, shop around. You might be able to find second hand editions of books (either online or even at your uni) for a fraction of the price. As an alternative if you buy new you might be able to trade them in on sites like Amazon later. Don’t forget to check with your Union, too, as they may have advice on getting set up.
Lectures and seminars will vary depending on your subject, but one thing is certain: no hand-holding. “You do have to be responsible for your own learning – it’s different to school, people will chase you up much less,” says Pete Le Riche from the Roehampton team.
You can help yourself out by being organised. Make sure you know your timetable, get some note-taking apparatus and get ready to take charge. You’ll work out the right study techniques for you over time, but that doesn’t mean sweating it out alone: talk to your coursemates, check out our study tips, and ask for assistance if you need it. Universities want you to be independent, but they’re still there to help. “Roehampton promises high contact time with staff so if you feel you do have problems, or are unclear, support is readily available,” says Pete.
Finally, the library is your friend. Many uni libraries are filled with all the coffee, internet access, lovely sofas and study space you could ever need. Oh, and books, online databases, journals, newspapers advice, and in Roehampton’s case, an employment service. “Learn to understand the library,” says Pete. “When you know what’s available you will benefit from it.”
The social side of university is one of the great joys of student life, so once Freshers’ Week is over it’s time to work out which of those clubs you signed up for you’ll actually give your time to. “You probably won’t get to all of them,” says Pete. “Pick those which most interest you and where you’re likely to learn skills that could benefit your future.”
‘Social’ doesn’t have to mean ‘drinking’ of course, during its Freshers' Week this year, Roehampton took its students on an alcohol free trip to Thorpe Park. You’ll meet people on course or society social events, so there really is something for everyone. And if you do fancy a beverage, your uni can probably help there too. “Drinking is a part of uni life, but be responsible, learn your limits and say no when needed,” advises Pete.
For play of a different kind, from student media to sports, don’t forget your union - it’s always a great way to get involved.
Finally, don’t forget to take a look around and enjoy the simple experience of being a student, the freedom it gives you, and the handy access to cheap stuff (hello, student discounts almost everywhere).
Take time to appreciate where you are, and what’s nearby. Roehampton students who live on campus are surrounded by 54 acres of parkland campus close to Richmond Park, Putney Common and the River Thames, with their very own bar and coffee shops, for example, and are just 30 minutes away from the bright lights of the West End.
But wherever you are, explore the area, get involved and make the most of your first term. And don’t forget that scarf, the nights are drawing in.