Second year is arguably one of the toughest years of your University life. You’ve settled in and found your friends but you are no longer running off the adrenaline of your new found freedom. Grades are suddenly crucial, not only to your degree but to your career. But at what point were any of us warned? I can’t argue that students are in the dark about the difference between second and third year – common sense would tell us there is one, and hopefully having gotten into a top 10 University we all have a little bit of that lurking at the back of our minds. But I personally don’t remember a point at which my lecturers specifically told me that, in order to achieve the grades I wanted, my lifestyle was going to have to undertake a significant change.
It isn’t just a question of workload either. Yes, we should all be aware that the work will be increased and most likely more difficult than what we have seen before, but what about our social lives and our accommodation? Yes, we have LUSU living and the option of living back on campus, but beyond that there seems to be a limited amount of available information. Where is the section of the Lancaster website about reliable landlords? Or if it’s not a Lancaster based company does it have no place on the University website?
But perhaps this is the point at which I am criticized for wanting to be spoon-fed. University may be the place at which you gain a higher education and achieve a degree, but it is also the place where most of us have our first taste of life away from home, sorting out problems for ourselves. The odd phone call to ask ‘is it ok to put this in the microwave?’ and ‘what do I do when the washing machine breaks?’ is absolutely acceptable, but beyond that maybe we should be acting like adults without needing the University to walk us through everything.
So if I could go back to the start of this year and tell myself something, I would tell myself that the library staff will probably see me more than my housemates, that if you don’t clean up the kitchen it will be dirty and that, no matter how good my intentions are, I will never keep up the fantastic work ethic I have at the beginning of each term. Yes, perhaps we do need to stand on our own two feet and not have our hands held as we go round and view houses and hand our essays in. But next year I will be settling back into halls where I have a cleaner and it doesn’t take 40 minutes to get to the library, and I will think about growing up after University.