Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So, You've Finished School?

I just filled in a survey for uni and they asked me what advice I'd give a future student from a similar background as me. I thought I would take it as an opportunity to share things I wish I knew when I started the UCAS process; the tedious prelude to one of the most important chapters of your life...

Make sure you choose your course wisely and go for something you think you'll genuinely enjoy, not just something you think you will get you a job. If you do your degree well you should get a job regardless, plus it is more likely you will end up doing something you enjoy. Sometimes to know what kind of person you are or should become it is good to look back to what you did as a child. Back then you just do what you enjoyed and nothing more as you were in a care-free cushioned world without the worry of jobs, money and maintaining your dignity.If you have to take a year or so out to figure this out then go ahead. Don't let a school force you into applying for something you are not sure you want to do.  If it turns out university isn't for you then that's fine and don't let your school try to change your mind just so they get an extra tick on their inspections. Some of the most influential(and richest!) people I know never went to university at all.

When it comes to picking a university, choose a university which has a good reputation with their students and not just with the league tables. Meeting new people and discovering who you are are one of the best reasons to go to uni, otherwise all you will get out of the experience is a bit of paper with your name and a crest. It's time to stop being who you think you should be and just be yourself, it's not school anymore and nobody really cares what clothes you wear.

Don't be scared to live up to the student stereotype, it's the only time you can!
Don't stress over lectures and coursework too much in first year. I'm not saying don't go or work hard, it's just you probably aren't going to miss much that you can't read up on later. First year is a prime time to join as many societies than humanely possible and add all those drunken toilet best friends on facebook. Do something interesting with your time and learn something you've always wanted to learn or get a part time job to add to your infinite list of skills. Employers will be more interested in the people who can show they know the world outside the library. You have all of third and fourth year to slave away in the library and complaining how young everyone is and how little money and time you have, as that's when the grades start to add up.

If you apply and hate your course, it's not the end of the world. Some people are guilty of just sticking it out to not cause a fuss, eg yours truly.Don't listen to other opinions and do what makes you happy, it's much easier to realise this sooner rather than later. Its surprisingly easy to change course in first, or even second year.

If you make good friends at uni, stick by them as they are probably going to be in your life from now on. It's likely you'll make hundreds of new"friends" in your first few years but only a few will last the distance and those you thought would might just change come third year and it could sneak up on you. Sometimes you don't meet your best friends until third and fourth year when the classes get smaller and you start hanging around with more like-minded people. Don't be deceived by the fact that because you are friends means you will be great flatmates, everyone has (surprisingly) different living standards and they don't always correspond to yours.

Your time at university will undoubtedly be full of memories, or lack of them ;). Getting the most out of university is all about finding a perfect balance of the work hard play hard ethic. Unlike a lot of people's experience at school, you will find somewhere to fit in even if it isn't straight away you'll know when it happens.  Don't hold back and just make the most of what's on offer to you, never again will you have so much opportunity just served on a plate right under your nose.

If you have any of your own pieces of advice for those fresh faced Freshers then post them below!
Uni allowed me to climb Mt Kilimanjaro for crying out loud! Get out there!

1 comment:

Amy Firth said...

Don't trawl through facebook looking at what a great time everyone else is having at uni that you are not. Everyone can smile for a photo. They absolutely have times when they feel alone too. Everything gets easier.