Everything I wish I’d known before university

Going to university is one of the biggest milestones of a person’s life. Moving to a new city, meeting lifelong friends and creating memories that will last forever. But there are a lot of things at university that school did not prepare you for, both academically and socially. So we have compiled a list of everything we wish we knew before going to university so that you can walk in on your first day prepared for anything.

It is okay to change your mind

Whether it is your degree subject, what university you attend or what societies you join, it is okay to change your mind about it. Whilst you are at university you are likely to discover new interests and hobbies, so it is perfectly fine if you decide that your original degree intention is not the one you graduate in. You have to make sure that you are happy and making the most of your university experience, so do not beat yourself up if you change your mind a few times – it is all part of the learning process!

You can experience every emotion in a day

In a single day, you can wake up feeling as though everything is under control, that you are smashing it, and the next minute you can be anxious and worried about an impending deadline. University is a rollercoaster of emotions, and often your mood will change throughout the day for no apparent reason at all. But these mood swings can change as quickly as they came, so it is vital to just take some time for yourself and remain calm during those strange days.

Do not leave all of your referencing until last

It might seem a good idea at the time, but do not leave all of your referencing until last when writing an essay. If you reference correctly as you go, it will take up much less time and be less stressful for you. Often, if you leave referencing until last, you find yourself mixing up sources. It is also important to remember that when you are finding quotes and academic viewpoints for your essays to write down page numbers, again if you do this as you go, it will be much easier on you and will prevent any frantic last-minute searches for a page number that you forgot. It might seem like a lot of effort, but it is undeniably worth it for the stress and anxiety it will save you later.

Attend every class

Attend every single lecture, every tutorial and every essay workshop. Remember that you are paying to be here and that the more effort you put into your degree, the more you will get out of it. If you go into the first year attending every class on offer, it will get you settled into a routine that will continue throughout the rest of your time at university, and this will benefit you immensely.

What you wear does not matter

Literally any outfit goes at university. No one is going to care if you turn up to your 9 am lecture in pyjamas, we have all been there. The same applies to the library everybody is too busy with their own work to care that you have not curled your hair this morning. You can dress up as much or as little as you like, the university is the complete opposite of school when it comes to fashion.

Do what works for you

Some people like to write out their lecture notes whilst others prefer to type. Some students are morning people when others want to work in the evenings. Whatever learning methods help you to succeed, you should do it. No teachers are telling you how or what you should be doing, so it is essential to not just copy what your classmates are doing. Rather, you should try a few different techniques and stick with what one works for you. Finding a good work ethic in your first year will reap benefits for you the further you go through your degree.

Do not buy your books brand new

Do not go into your university bookshop during freshers week and buy all of your books for new, instead, buy them second hand on eBay or Amazon. Buying second-hand books can save you up to half price on the textbooks you need for the year, and if you take care of those books well, you may even be able to sell them once you are finished with them and recoup some of your money. As well as this, you should check if your university library has several copies of the books you need because if they do you may not even need to buy some of your books at all.

You do not need to take all of your belongings with you

Let’s be realistic, you are not going to need five different ball dresses for one year, or all of your stuffed toys. Think about what you are really going to need when you move out of your family home and what items you are likely to actually use. At the end of the year, you are just going to have to move all of your belongings back home or into storage, so try to be realistic in what you need to take with you and make that later stage a little easier for you and your family.

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