The Reality of University: Three lessons learnt

By Jason Laryea

ONE: Be proactive

When you think of university, you think of fun nights out, complete freedom and timeless memories. This is what I expected and one thing that I have learnt first-hand is that if you want something, you have to go for it.

Yes, university is full of like-minded individuals and interesting characters, but you still have to be proactive and create the student experience you want for yourself. This was one key reality check that I would encourage prospective students to remember. Being in a new city, it is easy to expect everything to fall into place - this was my biggest shock. Not everyone is willing to be social and if you’re anything like myself you can easily take this as a sign to mind your own business, but trust me people are feeling the same as you so be proactive.

TWO: Look after your money

Money. The five-letter word that no-one has any clue about how to control.

Your student finance is NOT, and I repeat NOT for you to spend on unnecessary things - trust me I am speaking from experience. Remember to budget and put money aside for your rent (the main purpose for your student finance), food, and household items. After you have deducted costs for all of that, then you can think about going out. If you’re going to pay attention to one piece of advice, then it should be this – MONEY GOES JUST AS QUICKLY AS IT COMES. So please, budget yourself. If you need any help doing so, then there are online budgeting sheets available, and I am sure your student services can help you in that aspect as well.

Also, make sure you check if you are eligible for any bursaries or grants specifically from your university. Universities love to hide these money gems, and only the proactive will find them.

THREE: Make the most of lectures

Aside from finances, one thing I have learnt is that not every lecture will be helpful and not every professor will be the greatest in the world. Learn to use your library to your advantage even if you are in your first year - start early because in your later years you’ll thank yourself! With lectures in mind, I will say that you are not doing yourself any favours simply by copying the slides. Try and deduce the relevant information into notes for use later, that way they won’t be so daunting when it comes to revision.

To round off, university is rollercoaster, and no-one can ever truly be prepared for it. My advice? Come with an open mind, a willingness to learn and grow as a person, and ultimately have fun doing all of that because why not?!