It's been so, so long since I published a blog post and it's been a lovely break (sometimes you need to take a blogging break to realise how much you miss it!) but now I'm back and I'll be posting as regular as possible to get back into the swing of things!
As the first week of teaching at most universities started last week/the week before last, I thought it would be a good idea to make a little 'freshers-coping-with-the-stress-of-university' post. I graduated in July of this year and I honestly wish I was starting my first year of university all over again! Sounds crazy? I know, I would never have that I would be saying that this time three years ago. I think this time three years ago I was probably pulling my hair out thinking "how on earth am I going to survive these next three years of essays, assessments and exams!?" But you know what? I did and I miraculously managed to get a high 2:1 (2 marks off a first - unbelievably annoying!) and here I'm going to give you a run-down of how I, someone who did borderline-average in school, managed to do quite well in university.
Step 1: Studying a degree you're genuinely interested in.
At first, I struggled to really decide on what course I wanted to study. I always had an interest in media but wasn't really sure it was enough to study a degree on and what type of job I could get out of studying media. Instead of committing and following my gut feeling, I went on different course open days... like midwifery! Actually, I think I would have really, really enjoyed that course and would not say no to being a midwife now, however I don't think I was fully cut out for all the blood and guts, but I can imagine how rewarding a job like being a midwife would be.
Anyway, back in 2011 I stayed on an extra year in sixth form and took the time to decide Media and Communications Studies was for me and it really was. In 2012 I began my course in media, which allowed me to experience all the different forms of media there are in order to choose which I preferred. I studied film, television and radio as well as journalism, PR and marketing; all of which were so fascinating and interesting. Although the work was hard and challenging, it didn't feel like a chore. Yes, some of the times I detested some of the essays as you don't get the most interesting ones every single time, but on the whole, they were at least manageable.
Step 2: Keeping Sane
Take up a hobby to keep you sane. Pretty self-explanatory, really. I decided last year (February 2014) to start up this blog in order to take my mind off all the work I was doing in university. It actually worked out extremely well because through blogging, I've adapted it into what I want to do now I've left university... I've set up my own online campaign focusing on diabetes, bullying, self-esteem and motivation as well as using my digital marketing skills to work in the field of marketing!
Step 3: Can-do Attitude
Know you CAN do it. As I've mentioned in a previous university guide post, you would not let yourself go into an exam or hand an essay in without writing something... you would never leave it blank and accept a zero without trying. So, when your work starts to feel too much and too stressful, take a step back and realise you will eventually do it, you just need to think it through, make plans (I couldn't have survived university without making essay and exam plans), take regular breaks, drink plenty of water, exercise and try and eat a bit healthier (throwing in an extra apple a day will do the trick in this case!)
Step 4: Take Advantage of Resources
Make use of your university's resources. I didn't really take full advantage of this until my last year, but better late than never! You'll find by popping into your university's library or help desk, you'll be able to access a whole host of fantastic resources which will help you during your time at university. There will be so many workshops you can attend to improve your essay writing skills and there are always tutors willing to help you if you need that extra bit of support. I also found it extremely useful to meet with careers advisers when preparing my CV nearing the time I was due to graduate, so keep in mind life after university!
Step 5: Life after University
That brings me onto step 4; life after university. I know, I know, if you're just starting your first year of university, the last thing you want to do is think three years ahead when you can barely think of one week ahead, but it's really important you at least start to think about it. When I was in my second year, I started a long-term internship with a great advertising platform which allowed me to combine my passion for blogging and digital marketing. This internship gave me so many fantastic and real life practical experiences of what it is like to use what I have learnt in university. I also simultaneously interned for an entrepreneurship department within my university which allowed me to continue to develop my skills. Not only is it great for personal development reasons, employers nowadays won't look at you twice if you don't leave university with some good internship placements and experiences under your belt! I also highly recommend you checking out your university's societies. I was marketing officer and secretary for a student television station at my university and whilst it wasn't exactly the same as an actual job, it still allowed me to develop and improve my skills whilst being surrounded by my peers and friends, making it more enjoyable and something I would look forward to!
Step 6 - Be Kind to Yourself
Don't beat yourself up over university. If you're really worried or stressed, go and speak to the head of your department because they don't want you to feel upset or stressed. They understand how daunting starting this new chapter of your life is, so don't think you're alone. Think of all the exams and essays you've passed previous to starting university and how you managed to get through those... okay, university is a bit of a jump from A-levels, but you wouldn't have been accepted into university if they didn't think you could do it!
If I think of any more in the meantime, I will definitely update this post!
I hope you're enjoying university life so far. I'm sure when it comes to the end of your course in 3 or 4 years time, you'll be wishing you were starting this chapter all over again so enjoy it while it lasts!!
|One last piece of advice - take lots of hair grips to your graduation to keep that heavy and awkward cap on!|