With the start of University just around the corner, I imagine most soon-to-be Freshers are both excited and nervous by the prospect of escaping family life. Who wouldn’t be? I certainly was. And now that my course has finished and my eighteen years of being a student has come to an end, I thought it would be good to share a few truths about University. Please note these are extremely biased to my own experiences and observations.
You’ll be so used to having next to no money that the sudden increase in your bank account every few months will make you feel like Bill Gates.
“I’ve worked hard today. I’ll treat myself to a TV.”
“Going drinking again? I’ll buy a bottle of Jager for predrinks.” You’ll spend carelessly, and by the end of the semester you’ll feel poor again. Over the years you’ll become wiser and stingier, or start looking for part-time jobs.
University is definitely going to boost your job prospects. Even if it’s just because you’ve moved to a big city with a higher vacancy rate… it’s still technically University that got you there. From what I’ve seen, it’s rare a degree secures you a job. It almost always comes down to experience, but a degree is definitely something you can use to your advantage when bullshitting through interviews.
“I am a dedicated individual and can work well to deadlines as is evident by the fact I didn’t fail Uni.”
If you didn’t drink coffee or energy drinks before, prepare for caffeine to replace your blood. I’d never liked coffee before my second year, and now I can’t function in the morning without one. Caffeine will get you through the long, panic-stricken nights finishing tomorrow’s coursework. Caffeine is your best friend.
When you make friends in High School, you think you’ll be friends for life. But that’s not always the case. I only really have one friend from back home that I still talk to. University is where you really make friends for life. They’ll be there to celebrate practically any occasion with you (You got laid! Let’s go drink! You passed last semester! Let’s go drink!) and there to comfort you whenever you need it (You’ve been dumped… let’s go drink. You failed last semester… let’s go drink). It’s strange and emotional when everyone goes their separate ways after the three years are up.
As much as it’s a stereotype for students to go out and get hammered every night of the week, we didn’t do it that often. In fact, I drink a hell of a lot more now that I work in a bar than I did through University. We spent more time in our flat playing Ring of Fire with cheap bottles of Amaretto than we did partying and clubbing. It’s perfectly alright to say no to a night out, and don’t ever feel pressured to drink if you don’t want to.
Everything you decided not to bother with in first year you’ll regret not doing. Take up rugby? I’ll do it next year. Fancy going to that party? Nah, can’t be arsed. Only when it’s too late and you have more work than you do time will you wish you’d gone for it. Remember, first year doesn’t count towards your final grade, so make the most of it.
7: First Year
First year is a strange concept. In a way it’s like the beginning of High School, only more important. Your results won’t count towards your final grade, but failing them will mean resitting until you either quit or succeed. First year is the sieve that strains the people who shouldn’t be there from those that should. Many of the students you meet in the first lectures you’ll never see them again. Others you’ll wonder how on earth they’re hanging on when all they do is sleep in the back of the lecture hall after a heavy night out. My own course dwindled from about fifteen people to six by third year.
Another stereotype of students is that they only eat microwave meals and takeaways. This one is actually mostly true, but I know several students and ex students who can cook rather well; myself included. It’s very handy to know how to cook before going to University. I would have been extremely depressed if I’d been stressing over coursework for hours on end with only Pot Noodles to keep me going.
9: Bachelor of Arts.
If there’s one thing I learnt from my own personal experience it’s that there’s one law to always abide by when studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree: the tutor is always right. Even when they’re wrong. At the end of the day, they’re marking you. Whatever they want you to do, if you want to pass, you do it. On rare occasions you can persuade them to your way of thinking, but more often than not it’s just easier to do as they please.
10: It’s the best damn decision you’ve ever made.
For all it’s ups and downs, for all the early morning lectures where you wished you stayed living off your parents well into your thirties, going to University will be the best decision of your life. By the end of it you may regret doing some things and not doing others, but you’ll have gained a heap of friends, gotten further with your career and learnt how to adult all by yourself. And as clichéd as it sounds, you’ll come out wiser and far more experienced than before. University is a brilliant segway between childhood and adulthood. It’s also a great way of escaping your home town.
So if you didn’t make it to University this year, keep trying. There’s always next year, or the year after. It’s never too late.