Third year Psychology student, Farrah, gives her top tips for starting university life.
Hi! The months have really flown by, huh? Only a few more and you’ll be staring the new chapter of your life at uni! So in preparation for that here are a list of 10 top tips:
1.Be yourself, free and open minded.
No matter who you ask, people always say that university was the best time of their lives; the people, the parties, new experiences etc. These memories mostly derive from a persons uni experience. So don’t be shy to approach people, get to know others and mingle around at different social events. You will not only find people who have things in common with you but might even develop some new interests as a bonus to widening your social circle.
2. Work out what note taking strategy is right for you.
Although it has been proven in multiple studies that writing out notes increases the amount of content you remember it is important to bare in mind that the amount of content you manage to scribble down is the information you will retain. If, like me, you are pretty slow at writing if you are trying to keep it legible then honestly try and type things up. This way you can get down more information from your lectures instead of a small amount. After you type you could re-write up the notes in full (i.e. including the extra info from your reading and your lecture notes) so you can retain the information. It is all about developing a style that suits you but try to find it earlier on so you can implement it throughout. Also an additional note, when you are taking notes try to stay away from copying out the PowerPoint, these will be available to you before or after the lectures so you already have all that information at your disposal. Instead, attempt to write down what the lecturer is saying, they often give you more in-depth information in certain aspects of the lecture that is not in the PowerPoint or in the reading that you need to do.
3. Do the reading.
Your lecture notes will not be enough during the exams. Something that one of the lecturers once told us was that it is impossible to teach all of the content in as much detail as needed in 10 2 hour lectures for one module. Sometimes there isn’t time to go over some studies that have been conducted, considering how much research goes on in the field. Lectures focus on the main aspects, the key points to guide your understanding. It is up to you to add the meat to the skeleton that is presented in lectures. See lectures as a staring block or a boost towards the right direction and the essential reading as the stepping stones to you getting a concrete understanding. For those who have a high work ethic feel free to do some of your own research on each topic, the more knowledge you have the better your understanding and written work regarding these aspects will be.
4. Buy what you need!
I cannot stress this to you enough! At first it seems like you need to stock up on everything be it food, clothes, stationery, anything; but you really don’t need it all at once!
5. Be proactive.
Yes, I know, it is only the first year but it is good to start as soon as possible. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) a degree isn’t going to grantee you a job straight away. This is mainly because there has been an increase in the amount of people getting higher qualifications (yay!) so competition has become harder (boo!). That’s why it is really important to get involved in different things, such as voluntary opportunities, internships, maybe some part time jobs. Anything that you can use to sell yourself as an individual who can bring more to the table than the next person is the way to go. The more experience and transferable skills you have, the more you will stand out against the crowd.
6. Attend the lectures, all of them.
In your first few lectures you will be shown a few different graphs showing the correlation between the number of lectures students had attended and the grade they had finished with. Can you take a guess at what they all showed? If you guessed more lectures = higher grade you guessed right. The additional note in point 3 is the reason why it is vital to attend lectures. It is also a lot easier to retain more information if you have gone through it once already. Funnily enough lectures are also an awesome way to meet people on your course so that is another bonus to attending.
7. Find alternative routes.
This is a must for anyone who is planning on commuting. With rail expansions and the various improvements the government is making to improve the services there are sometimes delays, planned station closures and the inevitable strikes. For this reason it is always good to have a back up route in case something happens. There are 3 stations that you can use to get to City; these are Barbican, Farringdon and Angel. So try and find a way to find different ways to get to them or alternative routes.
8. Check online before you buy.
The one thing that most people always have something to say about is the price of the textbooks. But all is not lost! It turns out that there are many PDF versions of the textbooks that are needed during the years for free. Yes, absolutely free! So before you go and spend an arm and a leg on the books see if they are available online.
9. Start early to take it easy.
With essays and lab reports if you start earlier and work on it in smaller chunks then the workload feels a lot less strenuous than it does if you leave it for the last minute. Trust me, I have done both and it is not hard to see which one caused the least amount of stress. So get your time management down to a T and take it easy.
10. Enjoy it.
The next 3 years of your life will be different, but it will be a good different. You will go through a lot of changes be it in terms of personal things and/or in more academic aspects. Make the most of it and make those memories that you will talk about when you’re older. So remember, carpe diem!