So, you got into university. Congratulations! We hope you love it here.
Say hello to 5-month summer holidays, lots of new friends, exciting new skills, fantastic facilities and memories to last a lifetime. (And we mean that in all of its clichéd glory.)
1. Buy a diary.
Okay, let’s get the routine advice in the bag. Buy a diary, people. It’s the fundamental tool to complete organisation in life and, as a Fully-Functioning Adult To-Be, you’re going to need it. There’s a reason why tutors give deadlines early on: for your diary, so you can spend your time effectively working through coursework whilst still being able to balance your social activities. You’ll also need it for all your friends’ new birthdays and their corresponding parties because, boy – you’re not going to want to forget to budget for those.
2. Keep a calendar on your wall.
It’s easy to ignore a deadline if it’s closed away in an agenda somewhere. But pinning it to the wall and highlighting, stickering and underlining the life out of it isn’t going to make it as easy to turn a blind eye to every morning.
3. Budget. Budget. Budget.
At first glance, budgets suck the enjoyment out of life. I get it, I really do. But not budgeting means that you could end up not having enough money for the things you really want to do, like travel with your new friends in the summer or journey somewhere far for an internship that’s really going to help you get a job one day.
Simply take your income, subtract what you need to pay out every month and the rest is yours to enjoy. This could be as little as a present for your mum’s birthday or something more significant like utility bills, rent and university books.
4. Take up learning something you’ve always wanted to.
And say ‘yes’ to at least one trip and social event that you wouldn’t otherwise go to.
So, university is as much a place for learning about your field as it is for learning about something which you’ve not had the opportunity to explore before, but have perhaps wanted to.
Sign up for a sport or society in Fresher’s week and make sticking it out for the first month of classes your priority. It will lead you to new friends and social opportunities even if it turns out to not captivate you as much as you thought. And if you choose a sport, your physical as well as your mental health could be enhanced too.
5. Hang out after classes are over for the day.
So, if you are anything like I was in first year, your life revolves around which train you are going to get home. Inflexible timetables can be the kryptonite to your social endeavours but make the extra effort to stay a little later after classes to spend some time with your friends.
You aren’t given the opportunity to talk to people in your class during lectures or tutorials due to the intense nature of the coursework. Arranging to stay later will give you some time to do this. You’ll also have someone to find the room you’re supposed to be in and sit with in class if you meet before classes too.
6. Spend your summers wisely.
It’s no exaggeration that you will never have summers like the ones you get in university again. But, once the annual ‘troops abroad’ trip is completed, spend some of the remaining three/four months finding some work experience in your field or interning with a large corporation. Every single small thing you can add to your graduate CV sets you apart from your future job competition, so speak to careers advisers throughout semester two about what is out there for you at your stage.
It’s something that many students don’t start to think about until they’re approaching their final years. Don’t wait until then or you’ll be caught fighting against everyone else for the same roles.