I graduated university coming up to three years ago now, and I hear so many people talking about how they wish they could go back but I can never agree with them. I didn't have the best time whilst I was at university for various reasons but there are things that I learnt and I wish someone had told me them at the time!
So below are some of my top tips for surviving university and making the most of your time there. This post was also inspired by a post by Isabella Gilligan who wrote about the struggles of balancing life as a student because it’s really not as easy as some people think!
DON’T BUY ALL THE TEXTBOOKS!
Seriously. When I was in my first year I spent SO MUCH money buying every textbook that the lecturer recommended, in the latest edition too. I ended up having so many books on my shelf which may have made me look intellectual, but I never actually read them from cover to cover, only the odd page here and there. So at the end of the year I ended up selling them all on FatBrain and even though they give you a pretty decent price, it was nowhere near the amount I paid for them.
So I recommend going to the library, and picking up the recommended reading texts from there. Make sure you go and get them before the first lecture, because that’s when everyone else goes! Plus, if you get your books from the library it means that you can check out the other related reading which can help beef up your assignments instead of sticking with just one book by seeing what else is on the same shelf - it certainly makes your assignments stand out when your classmates have only reference the recommended reading and some online articles.
If you REALLY have to buy the textbook though, try and get a later edition. Most of the time they’re much cheaper and they contain pretty much the same information anyway. You can always look up the up to date statistics online if needs be!
GET YOUR 5-A-DAY, OR AT LEAST TAKE SOME VITAMINS!
I only started doing this in my third year, and I really noticed a difference when I started doing it. If you move away to go to university, which a lot of people do, you’ll be buying different food to what you’re used to having at home. You’ll be living on a tighter budget with a different lifestyle, so getting your 5-a-day becomes quite difficult. But they are SO important for your health and wellbeing. Check out my Being A Foodie Pinterest board for some healthy food options and info about seasonal fruit & veggies.
If you’re not big on the fruit and veggies route, I know of a few people who aren’t, then try taking some multivitamins. I personally use Centrum Women which is packed with so many different vitamins; and like I’ve already said, I’ve noticed such a difference in my health, my moods, my skin, and hair. Obviously make sure you check with your doctor before taking them, and still maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. (little disclaimer there)
HAVE AND KEEP TO A BUDGET.
Student deals can be the absolute devil. Especially during first year. You get all this money from student loans and it feels awesome to have so much money in one go, but remember that has to last you between 3 and 4 months and it has to cover more important things than new clothes, takeaways, and socialising – you know, such as rent and real food. So don’t blow all of your student loan in Freshers Week/Fortnight. How boring does that sound???
Having a budget will allow you to think about all of those things so that you don’t end up eating noodles for every meal by the third week of the semester. Even if you have a job, keep a budget. Otherwise, things can get out of hand really quickly.
There are a bunch of apps out there that can help you allocate your money appropriately, Spending Tracker is a really good app to use and it’s available for Apple and Android phones. If you’re lucky your bank may have a budget manager that comes with online banking!
Remember, university teaches you a lot, not just the educational stuff but how to actually adult when you're out in the real world.
DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF
This goes for anyone who’s moved away from home to go to university, or for those who are still living at home to go to university. At university, you will be surrounded by a bunch of other people, you’re bound to find someone you have something in common with! Plus there are so many societies that are available to join so there’s bound to be something of interest to you.
Also, you don’t have to remain friends with the same people you meet on the first day of university or the same people you lived in halls with. By all means keep in touch with them, but university is about meeting new people and widening your horizons. So get out there, and enjoy yourself!
And most importantly, don't forget about your friends back home. Unfortunately, I lost touch with my main group of friends while I was away at university even though I was only an hour down the road. Once I was back home we got back on track, but it's not the same as before. Plus, when you finish university, everyone tends to go back to their hometown or move further afield so you won't always be surrounded by those same people you met at university.
KEEP YOURSELF ORGANISED
Both in your personal and university life. It's important to get yourself into a routine, setting out when you have free time to work on your assignments, socialise, exercise, and possibly even work. The best way to do this is at the start of each semester draw yourself up a schedule - putting all your commitments such as lectures, seminars, extra curricular activities, work, etc. into the slots then you'll be able to see how much free time you have to work on assignments and go out socialising.
It sounds pretty strict but you don't get a first class degree by flunking and staying up until 3am to finish an assignment due at 9am.
So there's a few of my top tips, do you have any that you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!