As promised, welcome to part two of ‘My Top Tips for First Year’. If you haven’t read part one, you can do so by clicking right here. So without further ado, here are my final two tips for your first year at university…
Whilst it’s important to take your work seriously (as you are there to get a degree, at the end of the day!) it’s also important that you embrace all of the exciting new experiences that await. Use first year as your time to really get to know your university and join in with the activities and societies that they have on offer. Not only is this a really great way to meet new people, but it will also give you a sense of belonging within the uni and you may even discover new interests.
I go to a very small university and so the number of societies are minuscule compared to a lot of others out there. I know some offer hundreds for just about anything you could think of (which I find unbelievable coming from such a tiny uni!). You are paying a lot of money to be there, so make the most of it.
Lastly, but perhaps the most importantly:
Make the most of support available (and TELL SOMEONE if you’re struggling!)
I can’t stress this enough! A lot of universities will have some kind of ‘wellbeing’ or ‘support’ team which you can get in contact with if you feel you need…well…support. The wellbeing service at my university are incredible and I honestly don’t think I would have survived first year without them, what with dealing with my mental health problems and facing long waiting lists to see external services.
You don’t have to have a diagnosed mental heath condition though. University is a challenging time for most of us and it can present new (and possibly unexpected) challenges which you may have not prepared for. There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you’re finding things tough and seeking help, in fact I’d say it’s pretty essential (else things will likely get worse). Please, don’t wait until you reach breaking point to reach out.
The UK mental health charity Student Minds is a great resource if you want to read more about mental health & university, and discover ways in which you can support yourself and others.
If you do have an existing health condition, it may be worth looking into the support available prior to your arrival on campus. This way, it can be put in place in plenty of time and it’ll be there for you in those first crucial weeks, which can often be particularly overwhelming. If you’ve read my ‘Surviving Freshers‘ post, you’ll know that I certainly found my first weeks at uni incredibly tough (but don’t worry, it has a happy ending…sort of).
It may also be worth looking into DSAs (Disabled Students’ Allowances) which can be set up to help you with costs if you suffer from a health condition (and this includes both mental illness and/or learning disabilities).
So there are my top tips to bear in mind if you are about to start university this year. I hope you found some of them helpful and good luck!
Thanks for reading.
– Lisa x