Seven things you absolutely have to do as an undergrad

With so much to do during your time at university, it can be difficult to make sure you tick the most important things off the to-do-list. Here’s seven things you’ve got to make sure you do during your undergraduate degree.

1. Read beyond your course

The reading list seems endless and despite having passion for your course there’s also a lot of boring texts to wade through. Search the shelves in the library and pick something obscure but interesting to stretch your mind. Try some philosophy, if you don’t already study it, or the history of film, the portrayal of Justin Bieber in the media, how forensic scientists investigate a crime scene, or delve into the unexplained mysteries of the world… You could type most anything into Nexis or the uni library search bar and find a book or an academic study on it.

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2. Go to a demonstration

We have so much to be angry about: ridiculous tuition fees, scrapped maintenance grants and the mess of a world we’ll have to soon work full-time in. If you go to one of the bigger demos in London you will be swept up in the atmosphere. They are also a great opportunity to make memes into placards and take part in legendary chants like ‘Trump. Better out than in’ and ‘the Tories put the “n” in cuts’.

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3. Join a society

The number of times you get told this during your degree is infinite. Do it. Whatever stage of your degree you’re on, whatever time of year, do it. Even if you just drop in for one session you’ll at least come out with a story to tell. Usually you will make a new friend, try something interesting and open the door to new experiences like travelling to Malta to scuba dive! (You can actually do this at Sheffield Hallam).

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4. Volunteer

Give back to your local area by helping out at a food bank, or travel to a far-flung place like Nepal and help families rebuild their lives after the 2015 earthquake. Not only will you be helping other people, you will gain a new perspective on life. Every students’ union runs various volunteering opportunities for pretty much anything, so have a chat to them and sign yourself up, even if you just do a one-day volunteer event.

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5. Pick your lecturers’ brains

These people are walking Encyclopaedia Britannicas and more often than not will love to talk about their subject area. If there’s a topic you want to know more about, ask. You’re there to learn, so make the most of it.

6. Travel

Get a coach to London, Snowdonia, Edinburgh, the Lake District or Torquey, or even book a cheap flight to a foreign city. Explore while you have freedom from the ‘real world’. Holidays may seem expensive, especially to students, but it’s easy enough to find weekend hotel and flight packages for Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, Berlin, Dublin, and various other places for about £150 per person. You won’t regret it.

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7. Just learn as much as you can

It’s all too easy to treat your time studying as a means to an end, a box to tick on your CV before you join the rat race. But remember university is all about education, and enjoying three years where you don’t have to think about making a career. The foundations you lay at university can set you up for life, not just for whatever job you’ll end up doing, but as a person. When else are you going to be encouraged to just sit in the library all day and learn something interesting about the world?

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