The 1st Year myth

As a student going into your first year of University you can be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed by the generalisations people make about first year. It’s important not let some of the stereotypes and myths discourage you, after all, we’re all different and experience university in our own way.
Many college or sixth form teachers love to tell you about how once you get to uni your suddenly on your own and there’s no one to help you. Well, in fact, this couldn’t be farther from the truth, your lecturers, personal tutors and supervisors are not just there to teach you, but will be there when you need help and want you to contact them especially in your first year. There’s even a dedicated careers team there to help you visualise what you want to gain from university and build your career profile from the beginning of your studies. So you can feel safe in the knowledge that there is a multitude of staff appointed solely to support you through your studies.
If you’re making the transition between further education and uni you’ll inevitably hear at some point “first year is easy” or “first year doesn’t count towards your final grade”, while it’s true that you only need to achieve above 40% in your first year to move on to your second year, it’s the transition itself which presents the difficulties. Even though you may have completed essays and exams in your previous education, some of the changes in criteria as well as the standard that’s expected may feel a bit alien to you. However, it’s worth acknowledging that the reason for this in your first year is to let you adjust to these changes and find your strengths, so even though it might not feel like I walk in the park you do have space to breathe.
Another pretty common misconception is that you’ll have no money. Sure, you can’t hold down a full time job during uni, but not only will you be surrounded by job opportunities aimed at uni students but you may also have various opportunities to work with departments in the university. Don’t forget there will be the opportunities to apply for bursaries if you’re struggling, so you won’t be forced to eat nothing but plain noodles and toast to survive trust me.
Remember it’s normal to feel anxious going into your first year of uni, it doesn’t help that people tend to try and build things up for you as if it’s the most daunting change you’ll ever face in your life. The truth is your university will do anything they can to ease your transition because they want you to make the most of your first year, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how welcoming it can feel once you’re there.

By Catherine O’Loughlin

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