Going to university is famously one of the most amazing and life-changing experiences a person can have. It’s not for everyone, of course, but there is no doubt that it leaves a huge impact on the lives of those who choose it. Those who do, need to be made of strong stuff, because university can be stressful as hell.
At university, you are in complete control of your own life maybe for the first time. You are in charge of your finances, paying your rent, paying your bills, buying your food. You will be left to deal with most of your studies alone – you’re given essay titles and told to get on with it. If you want any help, you have to go and ask for it yourself because no one is going to hold your hand any more.
You are a grown up now. And that means you are on your own.
This can be a wonderful feeling. It can be hugely liberating to feel like your own person, to feel like an adult.
But it’s also not easy to take in all at once. To be suddenly given that much freedom is like an invitation to do something stupid. A lot of people drop out too soon, or have to re-take a whole year because they wasted too much time.
University can get stressful for the dumbest reasons. And the sad thing is that it’s really easy to ward it all off…
Your room doesn’t have to be tidy. You don’t have to have anything but boil-in-the-bag noodles and tins of beans in the cupboard. You don’t have to do all the reading. But do keep on top of the important things. Know when your essays are due and what they have to be about. Keep on top of all your coursework and, if you’re offered a break-down of your grades, know how important each piece is compared to the rest. If you have a job, make sure it’s flexible enough not to get in the way of your studies or your life, otherwise both will get on top of you.
Make sure you’re aware of the most important things. Remember why you came to university in the first place. The fact is, no matter how much ‘the experience’ means to you, you’re not there just to get wasted every day. You can do that without getting into thousands of pounds worth of debt. Put aside your rent money before you go out and buy a fridge full of beer. Plan time to revise and get your coursework done, before you hit the clubs or pack up all your spare time with dead-end bar work.
JOIN A SOCIETY
At least one. Societies are an almost university exclusive way of giving yourself just the right amount of me-time. Keep one night off per week to do something sober, whether you play board games, or play music, take up a sport or volunteer with St John’s Ambulance. It’ll ensure you’re not spending all your time either working, studying or hammered. It also gets you quickly in touch with people who have similar interests – and who all either are, or have been, through all of the new university problems you’re facing. Having a strong social circle with which to share your university years is priceless.