5 things nobody told me before I went to Uni

Zoe Bush·20 July 2021·5 min read
5 things nobody told me before I went to Uni

When it comes to new experiences it is natural to make mistakes, so heading into your first year of university without knowing all the answers is completely normal. However, as a student who has gone through the exact same thing, I am hoping my experience and the advice I have gathered from other students can better help prepare you for those unexpected challenges, which actually turn out to be very common student mistakes.

1. The transition will be harder than expected, but you will be absolutely fine

The rumour is spread time and time again that university will be easier than A-levels. This story is not the case for the majority of students. The difference between sixth form college and university is the amount of independent learning. You need to take responsibility for putting in the time and effort required to keep up with your workload. This might seem daunting but actually it’s entirely normal for students to take a while to figure out what works for them, from taking detailed notes to making sure you visit your tutor in their office hours, every student requires a strategy to ensure that they are consolidating their knowledge consistently and not just cramming in exam season.

2. It is okay to get a grade you weren’t expecting

Students will typically come to university with a lot of pressure to overachieve. Throughout school and sixth form, everyone is reaching for that top grade. University assessments and exams differ from those you will be used to; the reality at university is that while you are still finding your feet you might not reach the top of your grade ambitions until second or even third year, and this is completely normal. Universities typically have plenty of academic support through workshops, mentors and tutors to help you ease into this different style of assessment. You will get more confident at tackling this independently with the more practice you have, so don’t feel disheartened by a grade.

3. Find yourself an extracurricular activity

Every university has a plethora of both familiar and niche societies and groups. Make sure during freshers week you check out the societies fair, as there are tons of groups you would never have expected to find. Whether it’s sports, film, food and drink or music, it is so important to keep building on or to find new hobbies and interests outside of your degree. If there’s something that you’re passionate about and there is no existing group for it, you can definitely start one yourself. Societies are also a great way to meet new people with similar interests. All too often students get bogged down in studying and forget to enjoy all the fun that their university has to offer. Your years at university will fly by, so take full advantage of every opportunity.

4. Learning how to budget can be difficult

As a student it can be hard to manage your money and make it stretch throughout the term. Finding small ways to save can help a lot. For example, buying textbooks second hand is a great way to save money, often students in the years above will be selling their used textbooks for a cheaper price. There are loads of ways to still have a great time at university whilst saving your money. Making sure you get the best deals on all the non-essential expenses, for instance going out on student discounted nights, will make it easier to keep enough back for the essentials such as groceries.

5. You have to motivate yourself

It is very common for students to fall into a slump, becoming habitual in skipping lectures and cutting corners. Many students at one time or another will find themselves becoming idle in their efforts. If you want to do well in your degree then you have to take responsibility for motivating yourself, as no-one else will do it for you. Taking your learning seriously and putting in that extra effort will all be worthwhile towards your personal and professional growth. That being said, be careful not to put an unhealthy amount of pressure on yourself. Navigating your experience at university is all about balance.

Whilst taking all of this advice into consideration, the most important thing to remember about going to university is that it is exciting. Prepare for the challenges but also feel enthusiastic about the new experiences you are about to have. No student ever has it all figured out, but if you take on board a few of these tips you will feel a lot more confident about beginning your time at university.