As you all know I’m a Senior in High School but what you may not know is that my sister is currently studying at University. She’s a third year student and has lived in Student Halls as well as student house’s, today I grilled her brain to see what her best tips are for University/College students – whether it’s your first year or last!
What is one thing you forgot to take to University with you that you recommend having? Are there any unusual essentials you think are a good idea to take?
There wasn’t anything massively important that I forgot, however when I was living in halls my bathroom was a wet room and I had to buy a mop after about two weeks of being there, to soak up the excess water! I think fairy lights can make a room feel homely – also I love to have a pin board with photos and memories. I think this is an essential when trying to make a room your own.
Do you have a morning routine? And if so what is it and how does it help you get ready for the day?
Usually I get up at 7am before nipping to the loo so I can assess how tired I look in the bathroom mirror! Then I make sure my bag is packed and I get dressed. I actually make my lunch whilst I eat my breakfast (always a bowl of cereal and a glass of squash!!). Next I re-check my bag, put my shoes on and do my hair. Finally I clean my teeth and spray a little perfume before putting my headphones in and heading to the bus stop.
This all gets me ready for the day and in the right frame of mind!
What are your top studying tips?
Personally, my studying always begins with selecting the music I will be studying to! Without the right CD or playlist (whether that be on Spotify or Youtube, or the radio) I can’t get into the right mood for studying. Additionally, snacks and drinks are essential, without them it gives you an excuse to have a break to go and get the food – then your break turns into an hour and a half of doing other things rather than work. My favourites go-to snacks and drinks are; a bottle of squash and some form of banana chips or biscuits (whether that’s savoury Tuc biscuits or digestives). I find plain snacks means less faffing with different elements of food.
When it comes to stationery, I am a massive fan! I recommend that, at the least, you have black, blue, red and green pens (or a four colour pen like me!). This way important information/equations/quotes will stand out from the rest of the work. Moreover, highlighters are a great way to break up large chunks of text, especially any readings you have been set – as they can be extremely daunting (all 10 pages of it!!). They are also helpful for summarising an article or topic when writing essays.
Where you choose to study can be a make or break decision. If you pick somewhere where you know you will get distracted (e.g. the communal lounge), in order to avoid seeming antisocial, your studying will suffer. Sometimes its best to let your friends/housemates know that you need a bit of alone time to bash out some essay paragraphs. They will understand, they are going through the same process too!
If you like the library that can be a great place to study as the resources are all at your finger-tips. However, this can be dangerous as if you go with your friends they may be less focused than you and can become a distraction. Also, although you are at university, there will always be those people who still don’t understand why you are supposed to be quiet in a library. They will talk loudly, have loud music (that you can hear even though they have headphones in) or decide to eat their popcorn out of a very noisy bag (yes it has happened to me!!). I find that sometimes when the library seems full the local coffee shop can be a g0od place, it’s where I did a lot of group studying when we had group projects. We were able to have a hot drink, a chat and get work done!!!
Timing wise, I try to base it around how much I need to complete during the studying session rather than giving myself a set amount of time. This way if you smaller targets can help you see what you’re accomplishing and you will accomplish more. I aim to at least write 200-250 words before I can have a break. Obviously, this time includes research so this can sometimes last a while. If I find I am losing concentration (and this will happen to everyone at some point) I like to leave the room to go to the toilet or replenish my snacks. Sometimes I will even go and do the washing or washing up to take a break from my screen.
At University your lecturers will probably give you a set reading list which can include some online books. Websites can be a port of call, you just have to be very careful with the source. I’m training to be a teacher so government websites and recommended teaching websites are the best thing for me, your University will undoubtedly have an online library that allows you access to some of the books they have in an online capacity. In addition, it allows you to reserve key texts so you don’t miss out on that one book the lecturer was constantly mentioning!
The best thing to do when you miss a lecture and how to catch up on missed work?
If you know there is a reason, such as a doctors appointment, booked well in advance or a sports fixture you have to be at, you should always email your lecturer at least a minimum of twenty-four hours in advance. This way any work that they set can be emailed to you and they may even be willing to email the PowerPoint to you as well!!
If you fall ill, you can always message someone else in the classes you’ll miss to voice record the lecturer so that notes can later be made based on it. Personally, I only missed two or three lectures in first year and a further two in my second year. I feel that if you regularly don’t attend lectures you miss out on practical applications that may be useful in the future.
Of course, there will always be a reading that the lecturer has used as an information source, and therefore they may decide to give you the whole lectures content in one read!
What are some of the best moments you have had during University life so far?
For me all the memories I make are ones that I will carry with me forever. Especially when they are silly or just ones where my friends and I all get together. When I lived in halls in first year I shared a Christmas takeaway with my flat mates, it wasn’t the traditional Christmas dinner but we all sat round and ate pizza, I loved it! Also with the girls from my hockey team we organised a full roast dinner with all the trimmings (roasties, parsnips, honey roasted carrots and Quorn for the veggies!!). We even pulled the table from my flat across the courtyard to my friends, so we could fit everyone in, security gave us the funniest looks!! Also, movie nights and pre-drinks are always fun. Obviously, you don’t have to drink if you don’t want to because the best part is actually the games we play! We used to play ones where people would be running around halls, causing all sorts of mayhem and of course, beer pong (which often brings out people’s competitive sides). This is where you discover who has the same music taste as you and who secretly loves One Direction!!!!
Some of my lectures were memorable too, especially ones where people were so tired from nights out or late night essay writing that practical lectures turned into a massive joke!
For food we love our local Wetherspoon’s restaurant; it is cheap and a great place to chat with friends and take in what the locals did on the weekends. We used to go shopping and then head there for a drink and a bite to eat.
My favourite memory from second year has to be when my friends and I made a spontaneous decision to all go to the hairdressers, I ended up just getting a cut but two of my housemates got their hair dip dyed, and one even got a tattoo!!
Takeaways are a massive part of Saturday night T.V. for our student household. We used to watch Take me out or X-factor and then Casualty, as a house, as well as staples such as The Great British Bake Off and Made in Chelsea. In addition to that I would cook for the house, making soups or bread on the weekends and risotto during the week.
On people’s birthday’s we would all pitch in to get presents and we would make cake or flapjack to celebrate!
I hope this gives you an insight into my university life, however – you need to remember that your experiences are what you make of them and everyone will experience different things in different places and in different ways. What happens at one university could be very different at another! My campus is very small so most people know pretty much everyone. At larger/multiple campus universities this can differ.
My last key point is this: ‘Enjoy every minute of your experiences, especially in first year as you can never get time back you can only make up for it!’.
If you’ve got any great tips for College students or have a question about student life feel free to leave a comment below!