Welcome Back Hazards, This week has been super busy for me and so I thought I would make a simpler post for this Sunday all about what I wish I had known before I started my degree in university. If you like what you read in today’s post please don’t forget to like, follow, leave a comment or share my blog all of which is free of charge (Did I mention that?) but without further ado let’s get into with what you should know before university….
What I wish I knew before University!
With 5 years of University study under my belt by this point in my study journey I feel like I have plenty of time to expand my learning opportunities and had a lot of time especially during the summer season to reflect on my experience as a distance learner which is definitely not the same as things would have been if I had have chosen to attend a physical university which I almost did.
So as a forensic psychology student at The Open University, my course is largely studied on my own from home and I have not had the security provided by an actual university education environment but I do still get the time to attend regular lectures especially about what the tutors expect from upcoming assignments. So, It is safe to say that I have learned a lot of new things since the beginning of my degree, some of which seem probably strange to you, so I’m going to share some of my wisdom with you all whether you’re debating enrolling in university, still in the application process or even a couple of months into your very first year yourself.
1. Your university student loan is NOT free
Unlike popular belief, the student loan that you will receive to help pay for your degree study as well as other aspects of your degree if you decide to enrol in a physical university environment such as accommodation and study materials is not free money that you can use to fund a life of luxury. You are really going to have to use every single penny that you get throughout the year and even using that financially it can be rough so make sure that you budget and save as much as you can whilst still being able to enjoy your time at university
2. Look after yourself
Your health will always be super important throughout your life and that is no different when you are studying a degree so make sure that you try and take good care of yourself as you don’t have someone there to remind you to eat properly or to take some time for yourself especially in an actual University. So, Try to keep on top of things and learn how to deal with the stress and anxiety that will come with your studies especially during exam and assignment times and if you need help don’t ever be afraid to ask for it as all universities will always have a support team at the ready to help you with anything you come across along the journey no matter how big or small it may seem at the time.
3. The first year does count
I remember speaking to countless people who had been to University during my first year preparation trying to learn what to expect and most of these would move on to tell me that the first year of University doesn’t count and so thinking back over my first year I didn’t really put the effort into the year as I should have done because of this as I honestly thought that it would not count towards the final degree grade.
However, If I’d have known back then how even though that first year wouldn’t affect the final outcome of my grade that it would provide me with the tools to help me through my degree helping me to fall into a regular patter of work to make the most out of my degree I would have put more time and effort in. So remember… Just because it doesn’t count towards your final grade doesn’t mean it isn’t equally as important as all of the other years you’ll be undertaking.
4. Don’t leave referencing until the last minute
If you speak to anyone who has attended university you will not find a single student who enjoys having to reference during their degree study and I am certainly no different. During the first few years of my degree I hated referencing that much that I would usually leave it until the last minute and the stress that it would cause was definitely surreal and so three years ago when I started stage two of my degree I decided to reference as I go and so whenever I reach a part in my assignment that needs to be referenced I will do it before moving on and this has helped to lower the stress rate significantly since starting to reference this way.
So take my advice and try to learn how to reference properly within the first couple of months that you start your university journey and remember that there are a lot of apps, books and tips available online that can help you when you have to write that dreaded bibliography so use them as much as you can to relieve stress.
5. Meet your new best friend: The Library
No matter if you’re studying at a physical university or like me studying from a distance you will find that the university library will probably be where you end up spending the most amount of time throughout your studies and so use it wisely. My university has an amazing library that all students using the open university can access and with my particular university they will actually provide a lot of the reading material such as the course reading list and study materials online through a weekly study planner which will guide you through everything you need to complete that week with a further guideline of how long you should be taking on average to do each activity.
So please check out what your university or local library provides before spending unnecessary amounts of money on the reading materials for your course as they can become very expensive very quickly and also learn how to use these library systems and services such as finding online journals as this will come in handy later on in your university journey.
6. You don’t need to be the stereotypical University student
You will all know especially if you’ve looked into starting university how the stereotypical student acts such as drinking alcohol and partying all of the time, however, some students like myself love nothing more than taking some time to myself making a to-do list, getting things done and then going on to reward themselves with a good film and hot drink on the sofa (couch). So please don’t let the stereotype of students pressure you into acting a certain way to fit into student life especially at a physical university environment as there are so many different kinds of students that I am almost positive that you will find someone who enjoys the same things that you do.
7. Network, Network, Network
Much like with most aspects of life networking is extremely important as a student and I learned this the hard way. Until very recently I wouldn’t make use of the student forums and meet ups mainly due to my social anxiety that I suffer with and because of this I have found that I somewhat isolated myself and caused more stress along the way especially after learning that during your time in University, networking can impact job opportunities once you have graduated and it can also help massively in getting the best final grade that you desire.
So when you have the opportunity to meet professional people in the field you desire to work in try not to miss them because you never know when that connection may come in useful and so introduce yourself and make that positive lasting impression.
8. You don’t need to join a society if you don’t want to
All universities even my own often hold what is known as a Freshers event where you will get bombarded with societies and clubs that can make you feel extremely pressured into joining and for some you may end up joining three different gaming clubs, a film society and all the things in between. So don’t feel under pressure to join societies that you don’t have an interest in as all you will end up doing is stressing yourself out by having a limited amount of free time so think about your interests and what you would like to try and don’t be afraid to give it a go but remember if you’re not enjoying it you don’t have to stay, use your freetime doing things that you enjoy and interest you.
9. The only opinion that matters is your own
You will find throughout your journey through your degree study that often others like to share their opinion on how you are approaching certain aspects of your study from other students to close family and friends. It could be they don’t agree with the way you organise your workday but remember that it is your journey and your degree, so the only opinion that matters is your own as you will know what the best approaches are for you to use, what you can handle with your time and the best times for you to work no-one else does.
10. Enjoy University
I personally have a very strong belief that time speeds up when you’re at University whether it be in the physical sense or online so make sure that you try to enjoy every single second of it. Get things done on time so you can have fun instead of having to pull all nighters to get that one assignment done before the deadline as University no matter which one you attend will be such a rollercoaster but is filled with so many opportunities, new friends to meet and new experiences for you to enjoy.
And with that being said that brings todays post to a close. But before we close if you want to know more about my university journey check out my previous blog posts linked below. Also stay tuned for one of my upcoming posts where I share my top 12 tips for going back to school.
See you on Wednesday.