1. Research before your make any decisions. Thoroughly! Consider location, rankings and courses. How far from home do you want to be? How isolated is the campus? What is nightlife like? How expensive is the area? What are the employment statistics for after uni? Has it got a good reputation? Talk to current students to get an insight from someone else’s firsthand experience and go to Open Days. Read the finer print on course descriptions. Be realistic about your expected grades.
2. Join a club, team or society. It gives you the opportunity to make friends you wouldn’t otherwise meet and learn a new skill or just show off one you already have! I joined the Maths society (yes, it was as cool as it sounds), played netball for them and even became the Public Relations Officer on the committee – great for my CV. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to stand out and add to your CV.
3. Attend all lectures. You are paying good money for them after all! Even if you are hungover, drag yourself out of bed. The commitment will pay off when exams come around. Make the most of the help available to you.
4. Find a good balance for studying, socialising, ‘me’ time and possibly a part-time job. Weekends tend to be the least busy time so use these productively. Obviously, having fun is important but remember first and foremost, you are going to university to get an education.
5. Nothing is permanent but it is difficult to make changes once you have started, especially after the first few months of being there have passed. You can change course, you can change halls and you can even change uni. I know different people who have done all of the above and some who even did a second degree having not liked their first one. Ideally, try to make the right decision before you start though and don’t just follow your friends! I recommend opting for a more general course (like Mathematics) if you are not sure what you want to do after uni as it keeps your options open but a more career-orientated one (like Occupational Therapy) if you do know as some jobs require very specific qualifications.
6. Opt for Halls of Residence. Another great way to make friends and get the full ‘university experience’. But don’t bother buying a kettle and toaster – everyone will bring one!
7. Make your room a good space to live and study. You will spend a lot of time in your room – keep it clean/tidy, put up photos of family and friends and make your bed. All about the Feng Shui!
8. Don’t have regrets. Of course, you can always go back to university but it will never be the same as doing it when you are young and everyone is the same age. So, make the most of it. Don’t waste time on people you don’t like or who are negative to be around.
9. As cliche as it sounds, find yourself but don’t change yourself. Most people who go are young and impressionable when they start uni. Find ‘your’ people, have fun, don’t get pissed and make a tit of yourself but don’t take yourself too seriously. I wish I could go back and tell 18-year-old me to lighten up a bit, branch out to different friendship groups, join a sports team and be more productive on weekends either with a part-time job or jazzing up my CV somehow.