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Your concept of University will be warped by the reality of it, so here are the do’s and don’ts of first year to pre-empt those mistakes!
– Think you’re going to be super productive. A classic mistake is to think you’ll be a proactive fresher, enlisting yourself in at least three societies and hoping to achieve a First by the end of the year. A pipe dream that lasted as long as my previous New Year’s resolution. You will aim to be that productive person you thought you were in college, by waking up early and eating well, but in your second week you will succumb to missing two lectures and a seminar. There are only so many lectures that are interesting and only so many seminars you can hack drunk.
– Talk about your gap year. Nope. We don’t want to hear it.
– Be afraid of disliking your housemates. Out of the hundreds of people you met in college and high school, only a portion of them have made it into your current life. There is little sense in fretting about not meeting your best friend in a crop of six to twelve housemates. You might enjoy the company of your course-mates better, and if so you can move in with them next year.
– “Pull” someone from your seminar group. Nope. Especially not on a fancy-dress night. Imagine doing the walk of shame in a tutu, as well as seeing your “pull” every week for the rest of the year.
– Get so poor you must survive off noodles or “Text 4 a Toastie” from the Christian Union. But if you must, your parents will start missing you at some point during your first term, usually around Week 2 or 3, so you want to aim to be deep into your overdraft by then. Bear in mind you should always budget with a bit left over for additional plans. First term is an expensive term, with expenses from Freshers’ week, college membership, society fees, the Christmas palaver and more. Use the iLancaster app to find job vacancies if you need to.
– Think that University is limited to drinking. Complete some work. If you’ve made it to University then you’ve committed to education, so let’s not pretend that it is all about drinking and that hard work isn’t a large part of having a degree. Here, you work hard but play harder.
– Make the most of your first year. It’s a balance between work and a social life. You have been granted a low pass rate and a year which doesn’t count towards your final qualification. What a great opportunity to not study! Do something wild or different.
– Join a society. And gain a title bearing leadership responsibility. Proactivity in at least one society is useful for employment opportunities. The need to complete extra-curricular activities is bombarded into our psyche from a young age, and our parents are right to have done so. Usually, finding an extra-curricular activity means joining a sports or academic society. But now, extra-curricular can mean becoming an “Events Director” (i.e. you’re the one who organises the pre-drinks and trip to Sugarhouse).
– Write your notes well and keep them organised. Remember: you are not given revision material. It is your responsibility to either have a network of acquaintances to copy notes from, or write them yourself. I choose writing notes on my laptop over paper any day.
– Consider your degree – do you enjoy it? You might find that your degree is vastly duller than the Open Day portrayed it to be (or Law is not quite like the Suits episode you saw). Nevertheless, you can explore subjects through your minors and then you can change your degree for your second year. It is difficult to complete a degree you hate (unless you’re the kind of person who can revise a whole year’s worth of literature in two weeks and write essays while sipping Strongbow).