I now have been at university for 3 years and I understand it can be such a new and daunting process. I have already studied one year of Sports Coaching, then I decided to change my course completely to a Business Marketing course (for many different reasons) which I have studied now for 2 years. I have done many things whilst at university and believe I can offer some well needed tips to some unanswered questions.
Stayed in university accommodation? Yes I have.
Stayed in private renting with a partner? Yes…
Have been a captain of a society? Yep…
Started my own society? Of course…
Worked during my studies? Yes…
You name it, I have experienced it. So, please allow me to give you some advice.
Tip ~ 1 ~ Thoroughly research your course!
When I say research, I don’t just mean the title of the course and what University it is at. I mean Research your course! Everything about it you must research. What modules does it have per year? What is the likelihood of a job after graduating and how long will this take? What extra bursaries and scholarships can you get? But also perhaps most importantly, what are the career prospects and do they meet your needs? Make sure you are not just doing the course because you like the subject, you must think about your future…today!
As I mentioned before, I started out with a Sports Coaching degree, I completed the first year and came out with above 80% in my grades (a 1.1 or First Uni calls that). So why did I change? Well the career was not for me I found after more research during the course. I found out that I would probably not be earning what I wanted within the time frame I was aiming for and that there would most probably be only a few jobs I could get from this degree. So I had to make a tough decision. I had to start university all over again in my 2nd passion and I chose Business. This for me had the best of both worlds, I have always loved business and I personally believe that this course will give me a better career than sport (for my needs).
Do not only research the course itself though, you need to research everything around the course. Will you need accommodation on campus? If yes, how to book it, how much is it and will it serve your needs? Will there be any extra qualifications on offer around your course? The degree is not enough any more, employees are looking for students who over achieve. Research if it concerns you, what is the gender ratio? What is the ethnic background percentages? All of this information will be available somewhere, either on https://unistats.direct.gov.uk or on your university website.
The long story short is research everything you can think of. Leave no stone unturned and no angle unchecked. You’ve all heard the saying: Fail to plan; Plan to fail. This is no more true than it is at university. Believe me…
Tip ~ 2 ~ Work (and save) before coming to university!
Now for some finance tips…
I worked part time all throughout my college years before I went to university and it was the best choice I ever made. Yes it was hard going and time was short for social time, but I went to university with a couple of grand to cushion the blow. This allowed me to put my student finance straight into my savings and just live off the money I had earned through college. This allowed me to save around 10 thousand pound in just 3 years, using half of my student finance and half of the money I earned during my studies. This is not a magic trick, I still have rent to pay, clothes to buy and my studies to fund. I had zero help from my family (so do not think I received money from daddy or anything). This was all just smart investing and smart saving. If you are still in college, then do not waste your free time. We all know you have some!
So before you blow all of your payslip on the newest shoes or that brand new Xbox One S, think about saving for your studies (or life in general), it will be a massive help.
Tip ~ 3 ~ Do extra curricular activities!
The very moment your first lecture starts, before you even log on to your laptop or take the lid of your new pen, you will be bombarded with the notion that your degree just is not enough for employers these days. You can have the best grade ever, a 1.1 (First class degree) but the employers want to know what else you can do, that you can and will juggle your time.
Most people in your lectures will not listen to this advice, but those that do will stand out right away to people that hire. You have to imagine that every single person in your lecture is your competition. When you graduate there will only be a scarce amount of openings and jobs and everyone in your lecture room will be applying for these jobs. Not only your lectures, but everyone in your city, country and even the world who graduates with a similar degree will be competing with you! What will set you apart from the rest? What will make you stand out? What will help you build your knowledge in (or indeed out) of your subject area?
The answer in most cases will be extra activities. These can be offered by your university (remember to research ~ Tip 1) or can be offered by a wide range of service providers. Attend a seminar set up in your local area, gain a certificate in a sport society or learn a new language. The opportunities are out there, you just have to find them. Prioritise activities in your subject area but there is nothing wrong with diversifying and keeping your horizons wide…
For example during my first year in sport, I gained a health and safety qualification, a tennis coaching level 2 and a level 2 Gym Instructor (personal training) certificate. In my first year of business I attended countless classes to do with marketing in London, real estate seminars and also architecture and art exhibitions (I like to be varied). In my second year of business I gained a Professional Development Award (PDA) and won the most employable student in my university cohort, I earned an EMPLOY award and worked countless jobs and internships.
Now i am not perfect but can you imagine if I was up against someone who had only finished their degree and nothing more. Now, he/she might be smarter than me or even be capable of doing a better job, but my profile will stand out more and I will be more likely to be hired. That’s just the way it is at the moment and if you cant beat them, you must join them.
(Websites such as www.eventbrite.co.uk hold a plethora of activities in your local area that are free or paid).
Tip ~ 4 ~ Treat university like a 9-5 job!
You quickly realise at university that you are not actually there for that long in classes or seminars. You are maximum at university in one day for 4 hours normally and usually are in 3-4 days per week. These hours are of course very intense and are not something to be laughed at but lets be honest, students have a lot of free time. With all of this free time its hard to not get carried away. Many people will use this free time productively and follow Tip ~ 3 to do extra activities and boost their mind and studies. Some will get part time employment and work every spare hour they can and others… Well some like partying and Xbox games a little too much and use their spare time to escape university pressures (only for them to regret this at deadline day!).
A way to use your time productively I believe is to treat university as if it were 9-5. Even though my Monday lecture finished at 11 and my last semester finished at 1, I used the 4 hours left of time for my studies only. In this time I would only dedicate myself to what I thought would benefit my studies. I would start my essays, do my reading for next weeks lectures, follow Tip ~ 3 and do some extra activities or just revise and read for the next exams. Only when the time hit 5pm I would allow myself to indulge in my own leisure. Only after 5 o’clock! If you was not at university you would have a job anyway and most likely these would be your hours, so suck it up for a bit. Don’t go partying yet and don’t sit and procrastinate by playing Xbox or watching Netflix all day! Only when the clock ticks 5!
Honestly, this technique and mentality has helped me a bunch. My essays are now finished weeks before they need to be and my time is spent developing myself and my future, not my character level on The Witcher game.
Tip ~ 5 ~ Read!
University (believe it or not) en tales many many many hours of reading. From journal articles to books and from newspapers to presentations. Reading is prevalent everyday. Now this shook me hard when I started and I am going to be completely honest with you now. Before coming to university I had never read a single book in my life. I did not like the idea of reading and I hated the thought of reading a book rather than watching the film. This was probably aided by the fact that I have dyslexia which I only found out one year ago, 2 years into my studies! But still, reading was not for me anyway in my mind.
Now though, you will not find me without a book in my hand and the reason I state this as a tip because reading is just so helpful and actually kind of fun. I now read a book a week roughly and have discovered many genres that I love and many authors that I follow. I do not mean just read your textbooks and only read subjects in your subject area, No! I just mean read… Read murder mystery books, read fantasy books, read motivational books, read those raunchy romantic books and just read on all platforms. Most of all…Read Game of Thrones!!
The reason this has helped me so much is that I have noticed over my studies that reading has helped me with a variety of things. It has helped with the recommended reading and has made reading the boring university work stuff, so much easier and faster! This has made my essays become less of a chore and actually, I honestly enjoy doing my work now. Reading has improved my spelling also by such a large amount. Of course I still make silly mistakes and I still am not a great speller, but reading has most defiantly improved it! Also reading honestly has offered me so much joy and has genuinely offered me a brand new hobby. I read now more than I play tennis! . It has allowed me to learn about so much in business, roman history and many more subjects in a fun way!
So get yourself to Foyles or to Amazon and get reading!
I hope these tips have helped you with preparing for university. It really is not as hard as it may seem but only if you put the work in. I promise you one thing, If you are lazy, you WILL fail. This is true in life and is true in university.
These are just some of the tips that I feel are important to university studies but there are of course many more!
If you have any questions or any comments at all, please do create a discussion! I would be more than happy to join you in debate or answer any questions you have!
Thank you all for your time and good luck with your studies!