Starting university can be daunting, so here are some quick tips on how to succeed in your first year.
Keep track of your deadlines
When you start university, you’ll have lots going on; with meeting new people, freshers’ events, your first lectures, and potentially living away from home, it’s a pretty busy time. In addition to all of this, having lots of deadlines in the back of your mind may make you feel a little overwhelmed. It’s important to find a way of managing your deadlines that works for you.
This could involve setting up a to-do list, which you could manage by using a planning app or a physical diary. You could even set up a whiteboard or wall planner to pin your exam deadlines up and ensure you don’t forget about them. Whether you choose an app or a physical noticeboard, it is handy to visualise when your deadlines are and whether you have lots of work due in one day. Staying organised is key to planning and staying on top of your work.
Your first year does count (but don’t stress)
For many degree courses, the marks you get in your first year don’t count towards the final grade that you’ll graduate with. However, this does not mean that your freshers’ year doesn’t count at all! Putting in the effort from the start will make the rest of your degree easier because you’ll develop good study habits and the content you learn in subsequent years will build on what you learned in your first year.
Also, if you plan on taking a placement year, you will likely apply during your Second Year with the grades you earned during first year. So, if you want to impress potential placement employers, good grades in first year will help (although it’s not the only thing any employer will look at - a good work ethic and relevant work experience are important too).
Don’t worry if you get a grade that you’re disappointed with, as you can always learn from it. Remember to manage your time; take breaks from studying and make sure to still have fun because, while it’s important, your academic performance is not the be-all and end-all of first year.
The best way to approach studying in your first year is to try your best, but not to lose too much sleep about getting the absolute top marks. Your first year at university is a great opportunity to strike a good balance between studying and having fun.
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Most importantly, remember to ask for help if you’re struggling
You may have heard that when you go to university, you’ll have to do much more independent learning. While this is true, independent learning does not mean you can’t ask for help. You can seek academic support through your peers, personal tutor, or lecturers. You can ask your lecturers questions during and after their lectures, or email them if you’re stuck on a particular concept.
Your university will have a dedicated academic support team, who can help you to master important skills like referencing, essay writing, and revision techniques. It’s good to keep in mind that you don’t have to wait until you’re struggling to seek academic support – you can go to a session for help with essay writing to help you make a good essay into an even better essay.
You can also access mental health and wellbeing support if you’re feeling stressed or anxious about university life. You can discuss issues with your personal tutor, as well as the student support teams and counsellors. There’s nothing wrong with struggling (academically or otherwise) at university, so make sure you’re aware of the support that’s available to you.
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