Five things I wish I’d known before I went to uni

Sophia Lamberton 12 October 2021
university student reading book

Are you worried about starting university? Never fear - here are five life lessons from a students' time at university that will put you at ease.

Starting at university is probably one the biggest steps you’ll have taken since leaving school, and often people find it overwhelming. I’m going to look back at my time at uni and tell you five things I wish I’d known before I started.

1. Going to a non-Russell Group Uni isn’t the end of the world!

When I was applying for university, I really felt like I was being pushed to apply to Russell Group universities because the facilities are better, and I’d stand a good chance of landing myself a place on grad scheme with a top employer. 

It’s only when I found myself at a non-Russell group university that I realised that it doesn’t matter which uni you go to, you can still do well, because university is what you make of it.

Show your passion for your subject and your lecturers will be really keen to help you make sure you do well. Make the most of every opportunity you have to develop new skills and have new experiences.

2. Enjoy first-year of uni as much as possible 

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to make sure you enjoy your first year of uni. Being surrounded by strangers can be scary, but as you start to get settled in, try to make the most out of all the social events that are on offer. You’ll have so much work to do, especially in second year, so get out as much as you can now!

University is a testing ground for new ideas and experimenting with your style, so be brave, step outside your comfort zone and be bold. 

Make the most out of the next three years or so, before you head out into the real world. Work hard and learn as much as you can at uni, but also remember to balance it with going go out, having as much fun as possible and making sure you grow as a person.

3. Your degree does not define you

I wish someone would have told me that I don’t have to get a job in the same sector that my degree relates to. I studied history at university, but I found out that the skills that I learned from my degree mean that I could get a job in lots of different industries. Remember, employers want to hire people who will bring a fresh perspective and new skills to the workplace.

Throughout university you’ll develop transferable skills and ones that are specific to a particular sector. Speaking to the careers team at uni will really help you to show off your transferrable skills to employers, as well as how to make your skills from your degree relevant to the job you’re applying for. 

4. Money, money, money!

Living in a parent-free zone and having your student loan just sat in your bank account can be a recipe for disaster. One of the hardest parts of being a student is not giving into temptation and knowing when to put the spending on hold. 

Not many of us are taught how to budget at school which is why a lot of us struggle to manage our money effectively. It’s easy to have £100 in your bank account and spend it in the space of a few days on takeaways and nights out. 

My advice would be to plan your finances well by thinking about what your main outgoings are, like rent, food, travel and uni books. Make the most of your student discounts and student bank account perks because you’ll have more money left over at the end of the month.

5. It’s okay not to be okay

I discovered at university how important my personal tutors and friends were in supporting me through tough times. You’ll have a lot of highs and lows throughout university, and the best thing you can do if you’re struggling in any way is to reach out to someone you feel comfortable speaking to.

Remember it’s okay not to be ok. Your coursemates and friends are there to help you, you don’t have to feel like you’re alone.

Sophia Lamberton 12 October 2021