October 8, 2020, by Shweta

23 Pieces of Advice For First-Year University Students

Below is a list of 23 nuggets of advice courtesy every single one of my friends, from Nottingham and beyond. If you’re starting uni in September, memorise these; they’ll get you far.

  1. Don’t miss out on huge opportunities because you’re scared. This could be a chance to study abroad, solo travel, attend a conference or visit a society’s taster session. Fear of failure and/or loneliness can be crippling but fight it as hard as you can; the experiences that hide behind these feelings will often lend you your best memories.
  2. Following on from #1, don’t make excuses. There is never a right time to do something and there will always be an excuse – money, time, the weather etc. If you want to do something, just do it.
  3. Understand your finances. Learn how to set-up and maintain a personal budget. Learn the various options available to you for investments. Explore different sources of passive incomes and always, live beneath your means. A little extra work in your 20s will pay off in your 30s.
  4. Don’t stress out about your love life or lack thereof. When you first get to university, you will be surrounded by those who wish to remain single to fully experience university life. This is often short-lived and before you know it, everyone’s cuffed by Christmas. Your time is your greatest resource; don’t waste it.
  5. Call your family. No explanations needed.
  6. Learn to work a computer like the future of Microsoft depends on it. Learn to code and perfect Excel, HTML and Google SEO. These skills will be invaluable in your personal and professional life. Regardless of your career path, the future is digital. Prepare for it.
  7. To. Your. Classes. You’re paying for them and they don’t come cheap.
  8. Avoid all-nighters. They aren’t worth it and usually do more harm than good when it comes to your assignments/exams. Plan your work well in advance and get in 6-7 hours of sleep before a big exam.
  9. Learn how to say no. Say no to nights out if you’re broke. Say no to that guy who’s making you uncomfortable. Say no to yourself when Netflix asks if you’re still watching at 4am on a Monday. Put yourself first, no matter what. Your 20s is some of the last few moments you’ll get completely to yourself so enjoy it while it lasts.
  10. Don’t chase stories. So many first years do careless things in hopes of having a story to tell in the years to come. I did too. 5 years later and I can assure you that those are usually the stories you’ll avoid telling. You can’t chase a truly memorable night; those usually come to you.
  11. Use student discounts. Actively seek them out at every establishment you go to because chances are they do offer them even if not openly advertised. Once you’ve graduated, you’ll regret not having taken advantage of Unidays.
  12. Get a job. University is expensive and the extra cash will always be welcome. Part-time work doesn’t always have to involve an apron at the nearest coffee shop. Work remotely, tutor virtually or engage in social media and/or promotion for small businesses. You could also set up a YouTube channel or blog!
  13. Don’t bother buying textbooks. They’re expensive and bad for the environment. Most books can be found online and are much easier to navigate via pdf.
  14. Learn when it’s time to take a break. University will challenge you in ways you would never have expected. Between classes, deadlines, social expectations and household commitments, you will be pulled in multiple directions every single day. Learn to listen to your body and mind. Take a break when you need it to prevent burnout.
  15. Make your house a home (but on a budget). A well-organized and comfortable living space will imprint itself on your psyche, lending a calm and optimistic perspective. But don’t spend a fortune on furniture or décor. In fact, spend weekends with your new friends working on DIY projects for your room. You’ll be making new friends and designing your space at the same time!
  16. Make your health a priority. Chance are you’ve felt invincible up until now. But with each passing year, the flus knock you out a little more and the hangovers last a little longer. Register with Cripps as soon as you get to Nottingham, eat healthy and carve out time for exercise. Invest in your physical and mental health as much as possible.
  17. You will likely meet people who have lived very different lives from you. And as is human nature, you will be unsure of the things you have never known. Go out of your way to meet new people and show a genuine interest in their culture and/or traditions. There is a lot to learn from people who are different to you.
  18. It’s okay to fail every once in a while. It’s a part of life and you will learn a lot more from failure than you will ever glean from success. But if you find yourself tripping up too often, ask yourself what you can do differently. You always have another chance.
  19. It’s completely okay to eat by yourself in the dining hall. This one took me sometime to understand but everybody needs to eat. Besides, it’s actually really nice enjoying a meal in solitude.
  20. Invest in really good winter clothes. This one is especially for my international students. When I first came to the UK, I didn’t think I needed a proper winter coat until my first snow-day. You don’t know cold until you’ve walked to a 9am in a blizzard.
  21. Get used to being independent. Learn how to change lightbulbs and car tires. Don’t depend on other people. Of course, always ask for help when you need it but only if you’ve already tried yourself.
  22. The next few years may not be the best years of your life and that’s completely okay. Just do your best and focus on moving forward.

Good luck at university!


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