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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

My University Experience & Tips

As you can tell from the title this is going to be about my University Experience and I have some tips I hope will be helpful for you.

I started University in 2010 studying Criminology & Psychology and graduated this year (2013). My original plan was to study Forensics but didn't receive enough UCAS points to get a placement. I was gutted, I only had that option as I didn't choose another course or university. This was because of having Jaw Surgery the August before I'd be due to start and wanted to stay at home. 
I did try calling the course's admin because they will sometimes still accept you, despite not having the qualifying markers, but the course had filled up. After discussing other options with a teacher, I decided to look through clearing. Clearing is a list of all the universities, their courses with spaces and the number of points you need to get in.
Three courses stood out to me and I decided to research them more and phoned the university clearing helpline to gain information. I went on to the Criminology & Psychology course with a two-week tester, to see if it was something I wanted to study. I ended up having the most amazing three years and achieved my degree at the end of it!

As a planner, situations like that stress me a lot and it's hard to remember that there are always other options. University taught me a lot, with many people due to be starting I thought I'd share my Top Ten Tips.

Tip #1

If you don't get onto the course you wanted, don't panic. As I said previously, I found another course that actually turned out to be better for me. There are options like clearing but if you didn't get on the course because of points, ring them and see if they still have spaces. They may still accept you onto the course and in my opinion, talking to someone over the phone or even face to face can give a better impression than a written application.

Tip #2

I'm a very chatty person but I was terrified about interacting with new people. I was lucky enough to have a friend from secondary school on a similar course but the first friend I made actually spoke to me first. The lecturer told everyone to chat with the person next to you, but she didn't have to. That made my confidence grow so I would open a conversation with someone by either saying "Hello, my name is Hannah" or "Hi I’m Hannah, are you liking the course so far?".

Tip #3

Get a Planner. Even if you don't update it with every task it's great to use as a countdown to deadlines. For me, it gave a sense of time with the structure being so different to Secondary School. 

Tip #4

READ READ READ. This is going to be viable to almost every course. When lecturers say to you this is the core reading and these are suggestions always pick at least 2-3 of the suggestions on top of the core to get more opinions and more in-depth studies on the theory or subject. Also, if you use journals in your subject, use them in your assignment. Journals are the most recent source of information on those theories and studies.

Tip #5

Don't be ashamed of asking for help. There are facilities there for you so don't be embarrassed to use it. A lot of other students will be in your position and it is completely understandable as the transition into the lifestyle or workload can take its toll. Whether it is to do with an assignment or a personal difficulty there is someone there.

Tip #6

Be safe on nights out. I know you will hear this from the university and maybe your parents but do take precautions. Don't let anyone you don't know, or trust buy or hold your drink. It is a scary thought, but you never know who anyone really is. Don't take out your bank card, and always keep some money aside for emergencies or taxi fare. If you lose your card it may be a few days until you're able to get a new one. Personally, I wouldn't take out a passport as I.D. I would always take my provisional/license as it's more compact and a lot cheaper to replace if it is lost, damaged or stolen.

Tip #7

Budget. I lived at home whilst at university, so I didn't have to do this as much and was lucky to have a part time job. This tip is from difficulties my friends had. It's best to be organised and think of the necessities other than food & toiletries. For example, if you have to pay for internet (and you can) budget the amount for the next month in advance. University libraries get extremely busy and it is always good to be able to work within your own space. A lot of people wouldn't consider it a necessity, but you are at University to get the best qualification possible.  

Tip #8

Be careful with what you think is "normal university experiences" and peer pressure. You make your own decisions. Just because everyone else can drink X amount doesn't mean you can. Be safe in determining what choices you make for you and choices you make for others.

Tip #9

Something I now wish I did more, was join in with societies. I spent my first-year dipping in and out of two societies and I now wish I stuck with them. It can open up more opportunities in making friends or experiences. It's also something that will look good on applications for jobs or further education. Although brief, I really enjoyed the time I spent, and it doesn't have to be a major thing. For example, I spent time going to and supporting the University's American Football team.

Tip #10

Remember that university is for you. It is your chance to say this is what I want to do, and I am at university taking the steps to get there. If you feel that it isn't what you wanted, then there is nothing wrong in taking a different path. Each job has many paths and university isn't always the way.

I hope that these tips help some of you whilst at University or if you're thinking about it.

As always, thanks for reading...

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