University Life – Two Aspects You Need to Know For First Year
Heading to university can be a daunting experience. You can never be too prepared for your first year. This article hopes to touch on a few more important aspects of university life.
Your first few weeks
The first couple of weeks will be the hardest, and also the time when you are most likely to fully ‘kick back’. You need to know that while this is ok short term, you can neither afford it financially long term, nor will it benefit your health or studies, so please enjoy with caution.
Make friends and really get to know them. They can become life-long or may be temporary.
You will notice within the first couple of weeks that you are your own study guide. The university will give you the tools and point you in the right direction but it is up to you to learn.
This is the main difference between school and university level study, rather than the subject getting harder (which it will in second and then more so in third year). In school, we are spoon-fed all we are required to learn in a subject. In university, you need to figure it out for yourselves. There are recommended reading lists and there will be course aims and objectives (which should help you work out exactly what it is you need to learn for an individual course).
To aid with how to take notes effectively etc, there are often courses run by the university during the first month or two.
In the end, how well you do on a curse will be entirely up to you. Do remember you can ask for help if you are struggling but you are required to try to figure things out for yourself in the first instance.
Remember, especially if you have not grown up in a city, that not everyone out there is a friend. Do not feel that you cannot go out, that you cannot trust anyone, just remember to use your judgment well, be cautious and never go somewhere alone with someone you don’t know.
Cults exist globally and are always looking for recruits, especially in major/university cities. In my first year at university a girl was taken to a hall and told she was not leaving until she accepted God into her life. Someone else I knew was coerced into a Scientology hall.
Neither girl was physically harmed by these experiences but the former girl was genuinely terrified. The latter simply left as soon as she knew what those around her were up to.
Never walk down streets or alleys alone in the dark, as these tend to be places where muggings and worse may occur. Be aware of your surroundings and stay with friends.
In the know
University can seem scary at first, and reading the above may just enforce that. That is not the point of the article. It is to make you aware that you are at your most vulnerable, both physically and academically, in your first few weeks at university. The first month has the highest drop-out rate of the year. This is down to people being unprepared, boredom, learning of a crime nearby and not being able to make the transition from school to university level study.
As mentioned in my article on choosing the right university for you, learn about your surroundings before moving. Learn your routes when you get there, and chat with everyone, using your instincts to determine who will be good, genuine friends.
If you are really worried about your personal safety, there are almost always self defence classes going on, either by the university or in local community centres. Also, talking with the local Community Police Officer can give you better insight to safer routes, areas to avoid and they should know of defence/safety classes occurring.
There are also Advice Places (like citizens advice bureau but for students) which can help re academic issues. Your first port of call though, should be your Director of Studies, who will have your records, and should have a good understanding of your courses.
Have fun. University is a mind-expanding experience. You will meet a variety of interesting people, mostly genuinely nice people. You will learn a great deal and you will broaden your life experiences.
Do not be afraid but do take care.
Give university a chance. You’ve gone to the trouble of moving to a new city, arranging your finances and picking subjects. If your choices look less than appealing once the courses begin, you can change them. See my article on choosing your degree. Explore all avenues of aid before deciding this is not for you.