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What I wish I'd known before applying to uni

Posted: December 18 2020

Daniela, Film Production and Theatre

I was always excited to be going to university — to explore my new-found freedom and have fun in a new studying environment.

After coming straight out of high school and heading into a country I’ve never been to before, with different people and cultures, I have learned a lot and although it was quite challenging, it has been by far the best decision I’ve ever made. With my two years completed, here are some lessons I learned that other future students may benefit from.

The difference between university and college

University lifestyle is very different from school and you need to learn to be self-motivated to succeed and have remarkable results. At university, there is no one forcing you to revise and telling you what to do anymore. You have to motivate yourself to do work throughout the year, so get very used to independent learning. Based on what modules you choose; you have different tutorials and seminars with hundreds of people in a lecture theatre, a lecturer, and a PowerPoint presentation. There are days when you have no classes at all, and you have more free time to socialize and get involved in different activities. You are expected to complete your own reading and research around different topics, contribute to the seminars, and develop your thinking further. You can also go see your personal tutor or module leader and ask for student support when you have difficulties with understanding a module, writing essays, or just personal advice.

The importance of making connections

Networking is extremely important as a student, and I suggest you take every opportunity you encounter to grow and develop yourself. The universities offer a huge range of extracurricular activities and societies you can join and meet like-minded students. Getting involved in campus life was a real opportunity for me to try something new and develop different skills. From internships, fresher’s fairs, societies, clubs, volunteering, to learning a new language and being an ambassador. These opportunities offered me the chance to get to know a diverse range of people and cultures, different employees, develop new interests, and be more confident!

The importance of knowing how to manage your time

Organizing your time in a way that you have both good academic results and social life is quite challenging, but not impossible. As for myself, I have learned to manage my time by creating a schedule and avoid procrastination. I write down all the due dates in a planner or a calendar, or even on my phone, then I work backward to figure out when I should begin studying or working on an assignment. This allows me to process the new information and plan how I am going to use it. If you leave it until the last minute, it becomes stressful and can impact the quality of the work and the overall grade. Planning out a timetable allowed me to fit in every social, have time to relax, and spend time with friends. You can also organize your work for each class by days of the week so the work for those subjects is completed all at once. Effective time management may take some trial and error, but it is a must when juggling multiple commitments in university. It is really important to plan out your time, so try to find a balance between studies and a social life that works best for you.

University life was for me the first taste of independent living away from home and with it, the chance to develop new life skills, make new friends, and new experiences to enjoy! So even if you’re unsure of what to expect, be positive, get involved, be bold, and seize every opportunity that arises.