Whether it’s your first time at uni, you’re heading back for another year or you’re started a post-graduate degree this September, here are some tips and advice after being in uni for approx. 7 years (wow that’s scary) that will help you get prepared. I know things are a little different this year (thanks COVID) with a lot of teaching being online this year but that doesn’t mean these tips and tricks don’t still apply.
Once you get your timetable, get organised. Add your all your lectures to an online calendar (whichever you prefer). Plan study time, rest time, party time (ok you don’t necessarily have to plan this, but it’s good to know when’s good for you). Plan your week ahead of time, this way you’re more likely to stick to your plan. If you have a job, make sure your shifts are also in your calendar so you know what free time you’re working with for study and downtime. With post-grad research this is a little harder, it’s more like a full time job but I tend to plan 9-5, Mon-Fri but this can change. It’s great to have a plan but don’t plan to the point where you can’t be flexible, if this year has taught us anything it’s that things do change and we need to be able to adapt.
Background reading/read review articles
Reviews are great summaries from the experts themselves, they can be broad or as in-depth as you like and are usually a good place to start when learning something new. This is more aimed at those studying post-grad degrees but hey if you’re feeling it in undergrad go for it! If you know who your lecturers are then it might be a good place to start reading some of their reviews to gain an understanding of their research and what you’re most likely going to be studying.
Storage & note taking method
This is entirely personal, but whatever you choose make sure you stick to it. I used to print my lectures out and make hand written notes on the lectures as I went, this really helped me take in the info. After the lecture I’d write up my notes in a notebook for each module, so all my notes were in one place or each module. For me the act of handwriting really stuck in my brain but in some ways I wish I’d done this electronically for flexibility with adding new notes and storage for when it came to revision.
Having hobbies outside your course is really important for work-life balance, starting this at uni will help you when it comes to sticking to a work-life balance after uni. If you already have hobbies that you love, see if your uni has a society or club for it and sign up. Even if you don’t have something in mind just yet, I’d still check out the different societies and clubs, most of them do taster sessions and you can just try a new one until you find one you like. If there isn’t a society or club of your fave hobbies you can always set one up. I did this when I was at uni, this self-proclaimed Harry Potter nerd, set up the Quidditch Society (yes you heard that right) at my uni and it was great. We even won society of the year!! And, if clubs or societies just aren’t your thing, try to make time for downtime, whether that’s reading a book, baking, knitting, you name it.
At uni it’s most likely the first time you’ve been 100% in control of your money. With great power comes great responsibility. Don’t blow it! Whether you get the full loan and grant, you work or you get money from family it’s super important to know how to budget. This will make things a lot easier and it doesn’t mean you have to be “tight”. You can still have fun on a budget and believe me it will help you later on when it comes to rent and bills in the real world (post-uni life struggles). So work out what you’ll have for the year, when you’ll receive payments and set yourself a budget for each week.
Plan for when you’re just not feeling it
University is a rollercoaster, it can be the greatest yet most challenging times of your life. And believe me we’ve all been there, being away from home can suck and you miss your friends and family so it’s important to have a plan for when you’re not feeling 100%. Having a plan in place for when you just can’t be arsed is really important for getting you out of the funk. I found that planning meals with my housemates, regularly checking in with the important people in my life and focusing on the good stuff really help me gain any motivation I’d been lacking. We’re only human and we’re bound to have some tough days now and then so it’s important to prepare for those before they even happen.
Yes university is hard work and you’re there to get your degree but it’s also full experience so please enjoy it! You’ll meet some amazing people that just might turn out to be your life long friends, I know I did. You’ll have an amazing time, good luck!!
Let me know, are you excited for uni this September?
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post!