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Things I would tell my first year self



First year at uni had plenty of ups and downs, as anyone would expect. Sometimes though, I look back and think, “I wish I had done that sooner”. There are lots of things I would tell my first year self; a shy girl straight out of college (who would believe it!), but here’s the top ones.

It’s OK, no one knows what they want to do

I felt like at university, everyone knew what they wanted to do. People kept asking me what I wanted to do after uni. To be honest, I still have no idea. And that’s OK. I know plenty of people who don’t know what they want to do after they graduate. If you really are worried, book in a session with Careers. But you don’t have to have a plan straight off in your first year. Even if you do, it’s probably going to change.

Get involved earlier

Now in my second year, I have a huge group of friends from different years, different courses, and even different campuses. But at the start of my first year, I only knew my flatmates and people on my course. Now don’t get me wrong, they were really nice people. But going to sports sessions and socitieies would have helped me to make those friends much earlier than I did. Getting involved in all these things really improved my university experience, so it’s a good idea to get involved earlier rather than later.

Plan your workload

I still need to master the skill of this one, but I’m better than I was before. Leaving my first ever essay to the night before was a mistake, so plan out what you need to do. Prepare for your lectures (you’ll understand a lot more, I promise).

Don’t have unrealistic expectations of what you can do in one night. You’re going to find it a bit difficult to write a report, prepare a presentation, do your pre reading, and write up your lecture notes in one night.

If you don’t understand something, ask

I’ll never forget my first lecture. It was just an introduction to the module, and I didn’t understand a thing. As you can imagine, I was absolutely panicking, thinking about dropping out. What sort of student was I if I couldn’t even understand the introduction to the module? I wish at that point I had just asked or booked a tutorial. My lecturers aren’t at all scary, and they’re more than happy to help and explain things. So if you don’t understand something, just ask. Even if it’s after the lecture or in an email, no question will be silly.


I think that if I saw my first year self, I wouldn’t even recognise her. I’m so happy with the skills I’ve developed and the opportunities I’ve taken advantage of. University changes you so much, so maybe next year we’ll see what my third year self would tell me today.

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

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