Given I’m about to graduate I thought I’d do a post for those of you about to come to Leicester in September.
First off, I am quite incredibly jealous of you right now. In fact, if you were to offer me the chance to swap places with you I would begin bidding with the option of me sitting all your A Levels and work up from there to giving you one of my kidneys. You will have an amazing time, but following these tips will hopefully make it even better.
1) Join a society or sports team in First year.
In the whirl of freshers it’ll be easy to just not bother joining up to anything at Freshers’ Fair. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE! Joining a sport or society is generally one of the best things you can do at uni. It allows you to make new friends, do something you enjoy and generally have a great time. Every student will tell you that societies have a lot of fun, don’t miss out on it.
2) Free stuff and discounts. Take advantage of them, a lot.
For unclear reasons, it seems that businesses view students not as people doing something they enjoy instead of a real job thanks to an excellent tax payer funded loans system, but in fact as one of society’s hardest pressed groups in dire need of both free stuff and heavily discounted goods. Now, it is not for me to attempt to understand the inner workings of the corporate mind (a friend once suggested to me this may not be due to the milk of human kindness. I was horrified), but it is for me to say ‘ooooh yes please’ when they offer me a free razor. Websites such as studentbeans and 10 Ways to Save Money as a student now make it even easier to stick it to The Man’s profit margins before you spend your life slaving a way on His middle graduate management programme, so take full advantage whilst the magic of a library card allows you to do so!
3) First year. Make the most of it.
Given I am now at a stage where I’ve spent more time with the David Wilson Library than I suspect his own wife does with the eponymous Dave himself, this one strikes a particularly bitter sweet chord for me. The experience of living away from home for the first time is a brilliant one, which you should throw yourself into wholeheartedly (see tip 1) and generally enjoy. First year is generally less academically stressful than your A2s will have been (though don’t be an idiot, make sure you get decent grades, it’s still no match for the halcyon days of Yr 8) and thus you should have the time you need to get fully involved in all that’s going on. Make lots of friends, do societies, volunteer, play sport etc., you will never have a chance this good again until you retire, by which point you’ll be be a bit too old for most of it.
4) Halls. Live in them.
I know this may seem an obvious one to many people, but for any native Leicestrians (definitely a real word…) on the fence about whether to go for halls, I beg of you, fill in that accommodation form. This isn’t because the university doesn’t try to help people living at home, it really does and makes a decent fist of it, but it’s simply impossible to replicate the sense of community that comes from living with loads of people in the same situation, who will quite likely also be your best mates. University is meant to be a half way house between school and the big, scary adult world and living away from your parents is a big part of why.
5) Say yes.
If someone asks do you fancy doing a year abroad, a year in industry, climbing Kilimanjaro for kids, spending the summer volunteering in Africa, helping out in a local school etc. just say yes. It may seem like you don’t have the time, but trust me you really do; no one looks back at their time at university and goes ‘Ahhhh shucks, if only I’d spent more time in bed on the Internet’. You will be provided with a myriad of incredible opportunities many of which you will never have again, say yes to them and you’ll have some fantastic experiences.
6) Enjoy it.
This is pretty much 99% certain, everyone I know has done, but it’ll all be over far quicker than you can ever imagine so be sure to sit back and take it all in every so often…then jump straight back in.