Let's Talk About University

"University's like this little world, a bubble of time separate from everything before an everything after." - You Had Me At Hello, Mhairi McFarlane

As a student who is about to embark on my final year at university I thought it was pretty apt that I did a post about university life. Whether you're starting university in the next couple of weeks or are simply looking around universities at the moment, I want to (hopefully) give you a bit of general advice and tips, my 'advice to my former self' if you will.

Open Days
Your university experience begins at open days. They may seem like a bit of a faff, a long way to travel for you to potentially be uninterested in the course or campus etc., but I can't recommend them enough. At the open days you will get an overall sense of the university. University is a very personal topic, you may have loved the pictures you've seen online of the campus and think that their course is perfect for you but your opinion can change so quickly as soon as you step foot onto campus. You want a place that suits you perfectly. You want your campus to be appealing to you; you're going to be calling it home for at least three years so don't compromise on that! Mock lectures and subject talks also allow you to meet your potential lecturers and get an idea for what your course entails; if this isn't suited to you don't do it! It is so so important to be happy with your surroundings and your course at university. It is a massive investment and don't go getting into debt for an experience you're not going to enjoy.

Applicant Days
If you've decided on your favourite universities and have applied to them on UCAS, it is likely you'll be asked to an applicant day. These are never usually compulsory but, like open days, I cannot recommend them enough. I found mine incredibly daunting at first but these lecturers are now viewing you as potential students, if you impress them now you really will begin university on the best footing. I am usually very quiet and reserved in new and somewhat uncomfortable situations but on this one I told myself that I needed to be the best version of me that I could be and fake the confidence for only half an hour in order to prove to them that I was a worthy candidate. For me, it was a practice seminar and at the beginning of the day we were all given poems to look over in preparation for the seminar in the afternoon. Thanks to me just deciding that I was going to face my nerves and tackle them head on, a week or so after the applicant day, the University of Reading offered me an unconditional offer. It was my favourite university and so, obviously, it was a no brainer! By the April of my final year at sixth form I knew I was going to university, I knew which university, and I had my accommodation confirmed. It made my experience so much less stressful, no worries over results day and no stress over which accommodation I would be in. It is because of this that I  cannot recommend applicant days enough. They could very well be your path into a much less stressful year!

Starting University
If you're starting university next week, or next year, or in three years, don't be scared! It's a daunting experience, living away from home for the first time and, to add to that, living with a group of people that you've never met before. But, honestly, it's okay! Freshers is the perfect way to make friends, you have to remember that everyone is in the same boat as you, they don't know anyone either and hey, you must have something in common for you all to choose the same university (especially those who are also on your course!) So just seize the opportunity, make friends, and enjoy it. No one wants to spend their freshers week miserable; don't shut yourself away, just through yourself into every activity or experience that comes at you - no matter how shy you are, it will be fine!
University is also the first time that you have to be solely in control of your work load. First year is a transition year, they know that you might struggle to get the balance between work and play right but as long as you prove that you can pass (get 40%) in your exams then you will start a fresh in second year! Exams at university is no reason to worry, just work as hard as you can throughout the year and you'll be fine but you must remember to have fun because who wants exceptional grades at the price of having fun?!

I think what I have tried to achieve in this post, isn't to bombard you with tips, tricks and advice, it isn't to say that going to university is the best thing for everyone and it isn't, by any means, completely accurate. It's just my experience and the things I would say to my younger self or to any friends or family embarking upon university. Just be yourself, embrace it, and take all opportunities thrown at you, be it open days, applicant days or events once you're at university. It isn't a scary concept, if it truly was then no one would do it! Just battle those pre-university nerves out the way and enjoy it. It'll be the best few years of your life.


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