Saturday, 14 July 2018

6 Tips for Surviving University

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This year I will graduate university in September, having worked my ass off in the process. These three years were a learning curve and through this roller-coaster experience, I have expanded my self-awareness and knowledge of the world and others. I thought it would be a great idea to share some tips and advice to all the lovely people, who are planning or waiting to study at university. 

1. Good friends are not based on cliques 

    Schools are known to have their cliques: the popular girls, rock-chicks, metal-heads, goths, nerds. Sometimes being in a certain clique can turn into your own identity. Before starting university, you should learn that people at school or college were not yet mature. The best friendships are the ones that are not based on cliques, after all, individuals are complex. If you befriend people who like to wear similar clothes or who listen to similar music – you could ignore a lot of great people in the process.

2. First-year = fresh start  

    First years in every university are commonly referred to as ‘freshers’. I think the term ‘fresher’ not only embodies the new ‘flock’ of a university but also a fresh start. For the majority, the university promotes independence. This is when you move from the safe haven provided by parents, learn to cook and become a fully-fledged adult (at least most do). My top tip for your first year – is to enjoy it! You have one year, where grades don’t count, so spend it wisely. Experience new things, join clubs or societies, become active in the student union, party. Use this precious time to expand yourself and have fun, before final exams and dissertation work turns you into a hermit.

      3. Forget how you learned in school or college  

    Before I came to university, I thought that it will be like college – unfortunately, I was wrong. University relies on your own motivation, not perfectly rehearsing lecture slides on different topics. The formula for high university grades is simple – reading + reading + more reading + more reading. Practice reading journal articles, extracting relevant information and referencing. These skills will come in very handy. Most importantly, be interested in your topic.

    4. Have a healthy relationship with yourself 

    University can put you into a gutter if you are not careful. A healthy relationship with yourself begins with basic needs. Eat a healthy diet and learn to cook – your body will be grateful. Get some recipe books, watch videos, follow food-related pages. Over time even someone who burns noodles could turn into an amazing chef. You should also get enough sleep and balance all-nighters with rest. In terms of mind, don’t be a perfectionist. Perfectionism often leads to distress. Have a balance of work and fun. Never compare your development to the progress of everybody else. Most importantly, accept your weaknesses and flaws. 

5. Get a job to survive and for experience  

     It’s unlikely for your student loan to cover all your living expenses, and fun activities (shopping, parties, drinks, hobbies). This means that it’s crucial to get a job to survive. Even when your student loan does cover everything – do you really want to leave university without any work experience for your CV? Look out for part-time or zero-hour vacancies in the summer before you start university. Don’t be forced to eat plain rice or noodles every day.  

      6. Have a plan B
      Before you start university, ask yourself ‘what do I want to achieve from this?’ and create a plan. Research your job prospects based on the degree, browse current vacancies, look out for interesting companies. Having a goal or an interest will act as a motivator, when revision gets tough. Nevertheless, it’s not enough to have a plan A. You should also have a plan B, plan C and even plan D. Just in case, life takes an unwanted turn, something screws up or you lose interest in the subject. Be prepared.

So here you have, 6 tips for surviving university. University is a complex 
individual experience. Some love it, some hate it. There are plenty of alternatives to going to university, such as taking a gap year, apprenticeships, internships or working. It’s up to you what you choose to do. Take all the opportunities that come in your way and enjoy the journey of life! Do you have any University tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below.    

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