I’m coming to the end of my second year studying Journalism at Staffordshire University and the pressure is ON. Ironically, I nearly didn’t write this post out of guilt of it taking up valuable revision time. I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t write it and well, here we are.
There are many things I’ve learned at university, none of which are cooking, how the washing machine works or how to iron, since I decided to live at home, but I have picked up other valuable pieces of knowledge that I’d like to share with you all.
- Use the first year – This is something I regret not doing. I don’t mean go crazy and not turn up to lectures because you had a few too many bevs at the union. Just don’t let your uni work prevent you from having fun. Your first year grades don’t count, but they do matter. What I’m trying to say is be moderate. Do throw yourself into activities and societies and the odd karaoke night out, but you also want to make a good first and lasting impression on your lecturers and a lasting relationship with them. You don’t want to skip all their lectures all year to then come crawling at their door before Easter crying because you have no clue what you’re doing. Use your first year to make friends, have fun and be relaxed, but maintain a good work ethic whilst doing so.
- Budget your money – Because you don’t want to make a £50 order on BeautyBay, have your rent go out and realise you haven’t got enough money for food for the rest of the month. University Student Unions usually offer an advice service for those of you that struggle to stick to a budget. There are also a number of apps you can use to help you. I find good old pen and paper works best for me.
- Save as much as you can – I opened up a savings account at the end of my first year. Since I don’t pay rent or bills, the majority of my student loan went on my car and insurance. Everything else I’ve put in a savings account. The end goal is to eventually have enough to put a deposit down on a house… one day. I recommend putting away a set amount each month, just what you can afford to, and you’ll thank yourself for it.
- Make the most of your classes – It’s really easy to convince yourself that you’re 100% listening to your 9am lecture whilst scrolling through Twitter reading about last nights’ drunken antics. You’re not fooling anyone. Whilst most of your lectures will end up on Blackboard the following day, you’re still going to want to listen first time round.
- Self-care is mega important – University is one of the best times of your life, but it’s also incredibly stressful. You’ve no idea how a facemask, some meditation and a good nights sleep can do you the world of good.
- Eat well – I found myself constantly snacking at uni between lectures – a pack of crisps here and a chocolate bar there and I wondered why the bloody hell I’d gained half a stone in like, a month. I swapped these out for a little granola, strawberry and yoghurt pot instead and even just this small change has given me a more positive mindset, kept me fuller for longer and much less hangry in class.
- Don’t think of yourself as ‘in debt’ with your loan – You’ll often hear the phrase (or even say it yourself) ‘I’m going to be in like, £40,000 worth of debt when I leave uni’ and yes you are; and yes that is probably more than what your grandparents bought their house for. Seeing this sum of money as a ‘debt’ can be somewhat depressing and make you wonder why on earth your putting yourself through it. Instead, view it as a tax, like how you pay national insurance. You’ve not bought your degree and stuck it on a credit card, you’re a student studying something that you’re passionate about… you just have to pay it back bit by bit.
- Take photos – University is just three short years of your life and trust me, they fly. Take photos and make memories.
- Travel as often as possible – I’ve been to Paris and Florence with university, and I’m planning on going to New York next year, too. The trips are often subsidised so are a lot cheaper than if you were to book yourself. I prefer travelling with university as I’m not very travel savvy and I have no idea on how to navigate my way around an airport. Paris cost me £60 for 3 days and Florence cost just over £400 for 5 days. New York is set to cost under £700 for 6 days. I will always advise to grab these opportunities and make the most of them.
- Module handbooks – I always refer back to my module handbooks when completing my assignments so I am sure of my assignment brief and deadlines.
- Make lists – I like to make myself to-do lists, deadline lists and study plans. They help me keep track of what needs doing and when it needs to be done by. I like it to be very visual because that’s how I work best. Writing things down really helps.
- Set achievable goals – This is something I believe strongly in in all aspects. Don’t think like ‘I need to complete this module by Easter’ think more like ‘I should write 200 words today, then another 200 words tomorrow etc.’ instead of panicking. Slow and steady and starting early is a better option than leaving everything till 2 weeks before the deadline and cramming a years’ worth of work into a 48hr library sesh.
- Enjoy yourself – Remember the reasons you chose your course and your uni and remember why you love the subject you’re studying. Don’t let stress and your workload consume you and remember there is always someone at the university to talk to if you’re struggling.