Things I wish I’d known before starting first year

Hello! As the start of term and freshers week draws ever closer, I thought I would take to social media and ask the question – What do you wish you had known before going into first year?

So the top 5 things that I personally wish I had known before starting my first year are:

There are no longer such things as ‘drafts’ of essays: Being an English student, back in sixth form I was used to having a few months to do a piece of coursework, and have drafts checked by my teacher various times along the way. Now you are at University? That is a distant memory. Tutors can only look at plans, and most of them only accept ones that are half a side of A4! However, do not fear – there are ways to combat this! From the very beginning a couple of my coursemates and I would read each others essays and make comments about each other’s work, and this helps as you’ll know that someone has read it before you hand it in so they can hopefully spot any mistakes you’ve made. What is also really good, is if you get a friend or a parent – anyone who isn’t on your course- to read through your essay. If they can understand it, then you know your argument is clear and concise.

The library is not a scary and intimidating place: With the array of libraries to choose from, the first time in the library can be a bit overwhelming. The most important thing that you’ll need is your U-card to get through the barriers! Once you’ve have done this, the world’s your oyster. You should be emailed with a library pin number which you’ll need to take out books, but if you miss this email/accidentally delete it do not fear! A quick log in to MUSE and a search for the CICS password page will allow you to either change your pin, or have your original one emailed to you! Everyone who works in the library is there to help you – so if you happen to get stuck just ask for some advice. (FYI the libraries are also a great place to go to in the breaks during the day – to do work but especially in winter as it’s so toasty inside).

Use the resources available to you as a student: Following on from using the library, there’s a whole array of resources that are available to you and all you need is your student log in/email address. The library subscribes to things such as jstor articles, or the oxford English dictionary so use this to your advantage! Essays aside, you can sign up to Unidays to receive student discount online from a wide range of shops and sites, and all you need to do is sign up using your student email address and you’ll then have access to all of the great deals! (And this is free to sign up to!)

You do not have to buy every single thing on the reading list: When you first get your reading list, the instinct is to go out and buy every single item on that list. YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO SO. I remember in my first year buying (along with everyone else on the course) a play for about £9, using this for one seminar, and then never looking at it again. You can use the library, a kindle (where a lot of texts are free), or even share a copy with someone else! There’s nothing more annoying than being told to buy something, to then discover the tutor uploads it online every week anyway and you could have put that money to better use. Of course, buy some books (particularly textbooks as the libraries copies will be in demand), but if it’s something that you’re only going to use that once, and you know you’ll never read again in later life, then it’s pointless spending all that money.

Don’t stress too much over first year: Suddenly going from A-level to University can seem a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s good if you can do well in your first year, but if you make a mistake or mess up, don’t stress about it too much as at the end of the day, (for most courses) your first year score doesn’t count towards your overall degree. Make as many friends as possible, and do as much as you can while you can! Try something new, join a new society, write for the university newspaper – just try as much as you can!

I took to facebook and twitter to ask this question; and here’s what people had to say!

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If you are about to start your first year at University I wish you the best of luck and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did! If like me, first year is just a distant memory- please share your own advice and wisdom in the comments!

Jess

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