- Education and Science»
- Colleges & University
University Survival Guide
Mr Awbery's Declassified University Survival Guide
Did anybody ever watch the television programme Ned's Declassified School Survival guide? Yeah? Well i have totally stole the title and reworked it for this, a written version, about university, and lacks the pearly white teeth of the actors within that programme. - Capiche?
Hi guys, Mr Awbery here, and i have decided to ditch the football talk for just a little while to bring you an article which is much more personal to me. The life of a university student. Now, being at University myself, in my first year, i have decided to possibly scare the would be students of the future by letting them know exactly what can occur at University, but it also may tempt them to go. I can categorically say, right now, that choosing to continue into higher education has been the best experience in my life so far, and I would not trade my life at the moment for anything else.
I am currently studying Drama as a course in Huddersfield. In my first year, and having completed my first term there, I would just like to share my experiences with anyone who really wants to listen, it may seem slightly nostalgic but I have thoroughly enjoyed my first term, It was a shock to the system let me tell you, but a pleasant shock, not an electric one.
This will almost form a university survival guide, as well as detailing my personal experiences, I may do a second or third one as the year progresses, and different things occur with me. This will cover the start of University life, and hopefully inform you enough so you don't have a huge wake up call when you get there.
This guy obviously didn't heed my advice - tut tut!
The first tip, and possibly the greatest advice i can give you, is try and establish a good sleeping pattern. I know it may sound boring, and unsociable, and I am not saying don't party, believe me, you should, but when you are not partying try and get a good nights sleep!
If you don't you will end up sleeping during the day, and staying up all night. It becomes a long cycle of sleepless nights, and sleep filled days... You are awake at night because you slept in the day, and you are asleep in the day because you didn't sleep all night. It can be very distracting for your studies, and makes you nocturnal, now I am pretty sure 99% of people do not want to become a bat!
This can lead to a lot of issues as the year goes on - I have found myself wide awake at 5:30 in the morning, but sock on at 2 in the afternoon. This causes all sorts of problems when lectures are re-arranged for these times, and i know some of my friends struggle to attend due to their terrible sleep pattern. Do not let this affect you , as at the end of the day, you are going to University to receive a degree. Although partying and enjoying yourself is definately a major part of the experience, do not forget why you are there.
Who knew Toast could have it's own party?
Be Prepared to have some strange things happen!
If you live within student accomodation, as I do at the moment, there will be some strange occurances within the block that you live in, that you will begin to pass off as normal after a few months of living there. Guaranteed if you have a bad sleeping pattern, someone else on the campus will have too, and you will more than likely cross paths at the vending machine at 4:37 am, attempting to purchase a Drifter (Chocolate bar) and the machine just won't play ball. The other thing is you will be living amongst people who are all different, and some will not conform to your idea of normal. This is not to say you conform to their idea of normal, and you should just be ready to completely open to all walks of life, and all occurances within your flat.
Here are a few examples of random things I have seen whilst living at University :
Toast Party (Yes the bread kind)
Ring of Fire (The general drinking game around Huddersfield)
HUGE Flat Parties
Nights out in fancy dress (For no apparent reason)
Having my Pyjamas tore from me on a night out
Drinking a raw egg
Eating paper for cash
Big Stake Poker
The 11 oclock at night bus (Known as the party bus)
Dressing up as a Morph Pimp
These are just a select few things that i would have viewed as utterly ridiculous before university, but now, i just shrug and pass it on .
I also believe that you need to learn not to be angry at people for small things. The problem with living in a place where you know relatively no-one, is that if you seem cranky and sensitive, people will more than likely take a dislike to you. No matter how much you want to shout at someone who makes noise at 3:00am, the chances are at some point in the next year you will want to make noise at this time, so do not shoot yourself in the foot by complaining. Obviously if the problem gets out of hand do not hesitate to say something, but just try and be a little more accepting of behaviours which would usually annoy you.
If your not careful - This whole film will occur. Without the hilarity of watching it happen someone else - or Mike Tyson
Forget your welcome week (You will without realising)
Now, this only really applies to those who enjoy a drink now and again, but Welcome week (when i went) was a time for drinking, meeting people and playing football, in that order. In all honesty, i went drinking every night during my first week, which may seem daunting for some, and you don't have to. However, the best way of socialising within a student environment is to join in with whatever is occuring, so if that is drinking every night, be prepared to do that.
My welcome week merged into somewhat of a blur, but it was not all in vain. You will meet friends that become close to you from your nights out, however, if like me you enjoy drinking, you will have lots and lots of people come up to you and saying "Are you that guy?". This is a terrible moment and want to avoid if you can... Actually my next tip
Avoid being that guy!
Although my previous tip told you to go out and drink everynight, avoid doing it to the extent that you lose ALL your inhabitions... There is nothing worse than half of the university knowing you before you have even started your lessons, and for all the wrong reasons. Have fun, but in moderation! Do not fall to peer pressure and do things you will regret later, no matter how fun they seem at the time. What you do in the first week creates your reputation, and a bad one will marr your university life. However, the next tip should always be remembered!
The point in being at university is to meet people and take the steps you need to progress as a person, academically, socially and physically. Do not neglect the social aspect of university in an attempt to maintain your academic life at its maximum. At university you may meet people who you want to work with later in your life, or who you may come to rely on. Being a hermit, and playing your xbox360 all day everyday is not the way to make friends, and you will only serve to alienate yourself from groups which could be your friends, the people you will be living with in the years to come or even partners later in life.
University certainly develops your sociability, and i believe this is one of the greatest, and most under-rated aspects of further education. Learning to interact with people , especially for 43 weeks of the year, is something which will become all to necessary in the years to come. Once again though, take this in moderation. Learn when to socialise and when to study, and do them in a balance which gives you a life, but you can still work to the best of your ability. Also, your flates mates are going to be there for the next year, do not fall into the trap of getting into petty arguements with your flat-mates, or else you will have a very very unhappy life in the student accomodation.
Stick to my rules - and you can be as happy as these guys (well, the guy on the left, he looks happiest)
Obey the number 1 Flat rule - Do not sleep with flat mates!
Although this may seem like a ridiculous comment, it is one that should be observed with the utmost care. I understand that this may not be the subject to be discussing on hubpages, but i thought i would bring you the truth on University life. AVOID SLEEPING WITH FLAT MATES!
You will be at university, and you will be amongst new people, who will be like-minded and fun loving like you. Do not, i repeat do not sleep with a flat mate. Especially if it is just a silly, one night stand. It will only serve to make further interactions with them very awkward indeed, and it is something neither you, they or your flat needs to experience. If you honestly think they are the one for you, then go ahead, be my guest. But don't come running back here when it all goes pear shaped and you have the other person in question throwing plates across the room in a fit of rage because you have been going out without them, or seeing someone else...
You will also meet people at University, that you will meet up with, and get close to. Do not let this come in between the studies that you need to do, or your friends at University. Being close to someone is perfectly fine, but if you start to push other people away (and without sounding like an absolute pessimist) you will struggle to gain the mates you made back, and relationships can fail. I hate to be the person to break this news, but relationships have a funny way of ending, and without paying it the care and attention it needs, you can find yourself very alone at university, if you push away your friends and your relationship falls through.
Ignoring all of the above though, you may just meet that special someone, who will be your partner for the rest of your life. If you get along really well with someone, do not be scared to progress this into a relationship - This is the problem with university, and life in general. Relationships may not last, but they also could, so I believe you always have to try, just don't be majorly cut up if they end. (If you figure out how to do this, tell me!)
If it's due in at 12 - DO NOT hand it in at 11:59!
Do your assignments in plenty of time!
I may sound like your teacher, or a parent, but seriously, an absolute must is to do your assignments in time!
From personal experiences, the last thing you want to do is be doing an all nighter because you have procrastinated, put the assignment off and ignored all the advice your teachers, family and myself have given you. Although you feel happy that you have handed the essay in, it will not be your best work, and you will not achieve the grade you deserve. You will do this, Don't worry you will, but be sure to make it a one off. Going through university by scraping through is not the best method, and you will regret getting into £30,000 of debt, only to throw it away by putting assignments off.
But always make sure you hand the essays in! If worst come's to worst, please be prepared to pull an all nighter to get it handed in. Do you know the only thing that is worse than handing in an essay that has been done in one night. Yeah, you guessed it, not handing it in!
In my university ( I cannot speak for others when i say this) you can only be awarded a pass if you hand in an essay late. So for example, if an essay is marked out of 80, you can only receive a max of 40, which is the lowest grade possible. This can completely ruin a good grade so take the utmost care to hand your essays in, or else you will find yourself at a much lower grade than you expected
Do not Coast through University !
Your First Year is not Assessed (BUT DO NOT USE THIS AS AN EXCUSE TO DRIFT!)
I did not know this upon arriving at university, but the first year does not count to your final year's grade. This can be viewed as a reason to only do the bare minimum, but this is a seriously misjudged view and one that you should not take. You will only leave yourself behind later on in the studies, and everything in the first year is relevant, so make sure you pay attention and do the work as if it did count.
The only reason i mention this is due to the fact that you can use your first year to experiment with different writing styles, and ideas which you may not necessarily enter into an exam that counted, but as long as you pass then you are at the same level as everybody else by the end of year 1. This is absolutely applicable to the course of Drama, which i am currently undertaking.
I have been given assignments such as create a short film, now, i coudl have just done the bare minimum, created a terrible film but get a pass. However, i decided to make a film which was quite unique, and may not hve been received well, but this is the great thing about the first year. You can take risks safe in the fact that if you wholly mess up, you will not receive your final grade and be dissapointed. The first year is learning about what makes a good assignment or a bad one. The best way to learn is trial and error. After all, it is best to make the errors in your first year where they are less important, than your final year dissitation and receive a god awful grade because you were slightly too ambitious and wrote an absolute load of codswallop.
They don't all look like this! (Some have nicer candles)
Use all the equipment that is available (Even your tutors!)
I know it seems strange to refer to your teachers as equipment, but they are there to assist you in receiving the best grade possible. Most of the tutors have been doing this job for a long time, and have the knowledge of how to pass with top marks, do not neglect this! There is nothing wrong with staying after a lecture to ask questions on it, or booking an appointment to discuss your latest asssignment, they are there to help! If you do not ask, you will not know ,and these people are like fountains of knowledge, and i seriously suggest drinking from it. (Metaphorically, not literally, do not drink your teacher)
Get in the Library
The biggest difference I have found between my high school education of GCSE's and A-Level's, and my University Degree, is the amount of research i have to conduct outside of my normal hours of study. Within high school, You did get homework, and you had to complete it, but the amount of studies I found myself putting in was minimal. I only have eight contact hours a week with my tutor, and therefore my other time needs to be spent correctly. You could just use this time to see friends, sleep and basically ignore your requirement to study. However, GET IN THE LIBRARY!
The library may seem like a boring place where only nerds and geeks reside. This is simply not the case, and I cannot stress enough how important it is to read around the topic you are studying, the teachers will provide lectures, but the greatest way of learning is to supply your own knowledge.
AND - This is the course that will assist your career later in life, this is literally what you want to do, try and take an active interest in it, or else you will not go as far as you can in life. If you do not enjoy reading, watch online lectures or listen to online tapes, it will help you in the long run i promise.
One university even has a society for tiddlywinks (I know, I know)
It is also paramount to your development of character to become involved in out of lesson activities, and even something which has no direct application to your course. Pursue your hobbies, as they may just develop into something further that you never knew possible. You will meet lots of friends who enjoy the same things as you, and in general it will allow you to take your mind away from your course, and enjoy yourself.
I know from experience, that i missed out on the Society convention, due to a late night the day before, and I regret this wholeheartedly. This is the perfect place to discover your hobbies, pursue old ones, or even try something completely random altogether. Being involved with as much as you can will only serve to further you as a person, do not feel stupid asking to be part of societies, they are there to welcome you. It is not just about the hobby in question, they will also organise night's out, trips to places at consolidated cost , and in general offer more to your university experience. After all, you are now paying £9000 a year, get as much as you can for your money.
In Huddersfield University - They offer:
Juggling and circus
And the best thing is, if you do not find a society that suits you, create one! The point of societies are to create groups of like minded people who can experience their hobbies together, chances are if you have a hobby, someone else in the university will have. (Unless it's something absolutely out of this world, like toe painting, then your on your own)
Actually, scrap that, guaranteed there is someone in the university who likes that too.
The diversity within universities is it's greatest appeal for me, and the people you meet will be from all sorts of places, all sorts of backgrounds and have all sorts of interests. Embrace this, you will will learn so much about other cultures and lifestyles if you simply talk to your friends, and flat-mates. One of my closest Friends is from Kazakhstan, and I have enjoyed learning about the country, its lifestyle so much - this is something you simply cannot obtain anywhere esle. I never thought i would learn Arabic, but i am now (basic i must admit, but still!)
Why are they always chicken flavoured? (THEY TASTE NOTHING LIKE CHICKEN!)
Budget Budget Budget!
If there is one piece of advice you follow from this list, please follow this one. There is literally nothing worse than having to live off the cheap version of supernoodles for a week because you overspent on a night out. I have been there. Done that, bought the T-shirt, and ate that too.
A student's life can be tough, but it can be made even tougher by the lack of money due to slack attitudes to budgeting, and you will find yourself less and less able to enjoy yourself if you don't have cash. A job is a perfect way to supplement your university life, or if jobs aren't your thing, you can attempt to start writing articles on a webpage in the effort of earning money from advertising? (Cough cough).. Here are my top tips for budgeting properly
- If you have a parent or guardian, or even a best friend who you can trust - have them keep an eye on your bank for you - a secondary opinion is often helpful if you decide you want a cheeky mcdonalds when you can't afford it.
- Shop in cheap stores - Do not be a snob and think you have to shop at marks and sparks or Harrods to enjoy food ... Stores like Fulton Foods and FarmFoods sell branded produce at a much cheaper price, and as a student you have to take advantage of this. I can do my whole weeks shopping for £15 - not bad eh?
- Do not keep your debit card on hand when you go on a night out - you will be tempted to withdraw more in a drunken state
- Distribute money for food, and sociable events - have a clear idea on how much you can spend, and do not go over it!
- Pre-drink before going out - if you want to go to town, buy cheap alcohol from the shops and do not drink in town - this will save you a barrel of money, as nightclubs often charge high prices on nights out. Buying alcohol from stores is much cheaper, and allows you to begin the night in the right fashion!
- Save money everywhere you can - if you can save even £1 on an item in a different shop, do it - you never know when you might need it.
- Do not eat in fast food restaurants or be tempted by Greggs or Cooplands. Buy all of your food in , it is so much cheaper, and in all honesty better for you.
- Take advantage of your student offers - don't feel cheap asking if you can get a discount in stores, it will help you in the long run.
- And finally - your livelihood comes first, make sure you have enough money for food and living - Toiletries are an absolute essential!
Overall, enjoy university as much as you can. Going into higher education can be very daunting, but just remember you chose to do it, and therefore you should make the most of it. Fee's may have risen, but the experience is definately worth it. All the craziness is just another beautiful part of learning about life, and I am sure you will want to experience it.
- Do your work!
- Party hard!
- and have a fantastic time!