Freshers! Don’t snooze after the blues

Were you able to escape the clutches of Freshers’ Flu? It may be a miracle if so. Just like that – Freshers’ Fortnight is now behind us and the welcome week blues are kicking in. You most likely had a nervous but exciting time moving into halls and meeting your new flatmates. You said goodbye to your loved ones and are now starting your university journey – independent and free. What an unforgettable time it’s been with all the nights out, freshers’ fayres and meeting all those new people – and forgetting most of their names. Now the academic side of first year is starting and you’ll not want to waste it. So here are a few things that I wish I’d known in first year.

“First year doesn’t count.”

You may have heard this phrase thrown about the place, partnered with “you only need 40% to pass”. Don’t get fooled into believing this. To some extent, you can spend your first year getting used to being at university and finding your feet. However, don’t just do the bare minimum to get by with that 40%, because your first year could have more of an impact than you originally thought. I’m not saying that it will impact your final grade exactly, but it could make the difference in getting an internship, placement or if you want to study abroad. Employers will look at your first-year results when you apply for placements and internships, while partner universities will look at your academic performance as a factor when considering your application to study with them. Therefore, it is worth making sure that you have something positive to show them. Show them that you have potential, rather than someone that just scrapes by with a pass.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

When it comes to assignments, you may feel as though you have ages until they are due. So, you will put them off until the last minute, I know I did. A little advice from me to you would be to set aside a little time soon after getting the assignment to get to grips with what the task is and start the initial reading to help you understand. This doesn’t mean you have to start writing or go all out on the research, but just having a clear idea of what you must do can make a world of difference when it comes to properly starting the assignment. Sparing a little time initially is a lot easier than spending days on end in the library, fretting about whether you will meet the deadline, nor whether you have grasped the task – Trust me, I’ve learnt from experience.

Another tip for first year – get involved!

This can be with anything. First year is the perfect time to join societies and try new activities. These are not only a great way to make friends and have fun, but also great to develop your own skills and character, experiences from societies and hobbies provide great examples of demonstrating skills. Teamwork, problem-solving and leadership are all skills that employers are after. So, join a new society now – it could help you secure the job that you are after.

Spend money to save money.

A lot of money has been spent over Freshers’ fortnight, but that’s not a bad thing. It was spent well on making memories for a time that you will only truly do once. Although its great fun to spend money, you also need to make sure your finances stretch to cover you. If you haven’t already, get yourself a TOTUM card. This is the new name for a NUS card and gives you access to over 200 UK discounts from brands that you probably use every day, such as Co-op, ASOS and Odeon. Most importantly, you can get the cheaper Union tickets. It’s worth it for that alone – you’re welcome. A 16-26 railcard also saves you money when travelling on the train. That’s another card worth getting even if you don’t use the train that often. Voucher Codes and UNiDAYS are two more apps to look at in case you are out shopping in town or want to grab a bit to eat.

There you have it, a few tips from me to you to think about for the year ahead.

Get involved, find those discounts and make first-year count both academically and socially. Make it earn the clichéd mantle of ‘The best years of my life’.

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