University Tips & Advice.
Ecclesiastes 7:12 (ESV)
12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
I thought I would write a different kind of post. One about university.
When I went to uni I went into it with no knowledge of what I was getting myself into. I look back on university and I do wish that I had gone into it with a bit more preparation for what was yet to come. BUT I am thankful for my whole experience even though it was not the best. I disliked uni and wanted to leave towards the end of second year but the people around me convinced me to stay. I am thankful that I did not quit and I completed the course. If I’d left I would have received a very expensive diploma not a degree.
After I completed my course I knew I didn’t want anything to do with the course because that had been my thoughts for over a year, BUT God had a different plan for my life. 3 years (wow) since graduation (which I didn’t attend) I have found myself producing work that is infinitely better than all the work I created at university. For someone who did not want anything to do with my degree or the industry I spend a lot of my time creating work that has to do with my degree.
Anyways back to this post. I will be sharing my tips and advice for university from lived experience and from an if I could do it again I would do this perspective.
First Year Students. Do your research; course, campus, city, career prospects.
When I went to university I think like a lot of people I wasn’t prepared because uni is just another step on the education ladder. You go there, do your time and you graduate. I didn’t think too much about all the other things that are a part of university because my university plans changed drastically when I found a course that I liked.
Do your research! This is the most valuable part of preparation for university…
Open Days & Campus Tours.
Whether you are moving to a new city or staying locally my advice is to attend an open day or to arrange a personal tour of the campus and a talk about the course. Regardless of whether you have already applied and accepted a place on the course make sure you have a tour of the campus and you spend some time in the city. This is very important because you will be spending the next 3+ years in that city and you don’t want to pick somewhere that is not right for you or your future.
When it comes to career prospects don’t fall for the lies that the course will spin you about employ-ability. There is no guarantee that every single person on the course will leave with a job, for the simple reason that everyone is different and some people may not leave with a degree. When your course says everyone will leave with a job ask if they mean jobs within the industry or jobs outside of what you are studying.
When it comes to selecting or making your choice about your course, do not do it based upon the employ-ability rate.
Picking your accommodation.
A campus tour will help you to get a gist of what the accommodation on campus looks like, it will also help you to pick the right place for your needs. If you’re on a course where you have to carry a lot of stuff in each day you will most likely want to be closer to where you have your classes. Choose accommodation that reflects what you can afford not just ease. The further out of campus you are the cheaper your accommodation will be. Apartments will cost more than houses, shared accommodation is cheaper and single occupancy drives up the price. Shop around when it comes to accommodation, create a budget plan that is lower than what you might be receiving from your loan.
Joining societies and being a part of the university community.
This is something that I look back on and wish I had done. Being in a society / club enhances your university experience simply because you get to interact with people who are not on your course or in your accommodation. This widens your interaction sphere and helps you to build relationships. Seeing as this is a Christian blog I would advice you to find the Christian society on campus, go to the first few meeting to see if this is for you. If it isn’t for you then widen your search by interacting more within the church that you attend in your new city (if you’re in a new city.)
Making Friends & Ships.
I’m a fan of friends but I’m not a fan of ships. Ships come and go, friends are rooted in love. When it comes to university friends you’re probably not going to be friends with people you were at uni with when your time there is done. Don’t focus so much on friends, making, finding etc. If you’re going to interact with people on your course and within your accommodation don’t force anything or contort yourself to fit into certain circles. I did it and it only hurt me. If you wouldn’t do it at home then don’t do it when you’re away from home. University was the biggest lesson in friendships for me, it taught me that people come and go from our lives. We can come with positivity or negativity and what we do in other people’s lives will leave a huge mark.
Plan. Create lists and stick to them.
When I was at uni I hated lists, I didn’t see the point of doing so. I thought it was a waste of time because “you know what you have to do, why do you need a list to tell you what to do?” But after a while I began to understand the need for lists and plans. They help you to be more efficient and you then know what you have done and have yet to do. I would advice you to purchase a calendar and diary that suits your taste. Use it each day and week. This will make your life so much easier.
Completing your studies.
When it comes to working to deadlines, I would advice you to change the deadline date that you are given. Move it to one week earlier than it is supposed to be. Use your lists and calendars to work towards an earlier date, this will give you time to meet the actual deadline if anything goes wrong. If you’re on an art or design course there are so many things that can and will go wrong but being prepared and working towards an earlier deadline will allow you room to make any changes and actually complete your work to a good standard.
Utilise what the university has to offer. The (UK) government and certain organisations will have funding towards certain things within your university. Make it your business to know what is on offer at your university. There are grants and awards that go with achieving or a need for extra finances. Know the criteria that is needed in order for you to access some of these things.
Doing an internship is great for your CV and job opportunities. But if you can’t find one this is not the end of the world. Other things on your CV will help you out when applying for jobs. Don’t be afraid of starting at the bottom or in an unrelated subject because it will help you out. I didn’t end up doing an internship at uni, the main reason was that I couldn’t afford to, I have completed work experience since graduating and some of it was career changing.
If you are struggling with finding, affording, partaking in an internship I would suggest that you reach out to your tutors and ask them for help in your search. They may have contacts that will help with your issue.
Don’t allow fear to rule you.
University is a place that will either make you or break you. It kinda broke me and looking back I wish that I hadn’t allowed fear to rule me. Your tutors may or may not be approachable so when it comes to speaking to them about what’s going on outside the course that may be affecting your studies it can sometimes be a bit difficult to do. My advice to you is to learn your tutors personalities and find out about their approach-ability. This is always good to know because if anything is happening with you, you have someone to turn to who will maybe look out for you. If you don’t think that there is anyone like that on your course, use the services outside of your course, that’s what they are there for.
If you do find yourself wanting to leave the course I would advice you to speak to someone first; take a year out and come back to complete your studies or go part time. Don’t leave the course completely. Because you will have to apply again and there is no guarantee that your course will take you back.
You are likely -if you’re not in the smaller percentile of this world or have received grants- to leave with huge university debts. SO enjoy your time there. Don’t allow yourself to get too stressed out or to lose sleep over anything. In my final year & term of uni after two years of struggling with the course I made a decision not to lose sleep because of the work that I had to complete. I chose my health and sanity, I had become really unwell during my second year of university and in my final year when I realised that I was not a priority on my course. I chose sleep, eating well and plenty of fun over not getting any sleep and losing weight because I was stressed out.
Even though my university experience was not the best I had a great time and made a lot of great memories. If university is not for you at all, don’t get discouraged by other people’s experiences or what you think you will be locked out of in terms of careers because you don’t have a degree. There are plenty other ways of getting into a career without going to uni or even studying the course that you then end up working in.
Ask God before applying or if you have already applied for anything ask God to guide you and help you. God will always be in the middle of everything anyway regardless of whether we consult him or not.
Good luck with university for those of you who will be attending this year. These tips are aimed at the British system because I have that experience and can not tell you anything about what goes on elsewhere.