These days, it’s common practice in universities to use first year as a transition year, meaning that the grades will not count towards your final degree classification. For many freshers, this encourages the notion that first year doesn’t matter and that they can rest on their laurels a little. However, I believe that first year is equally as important as the rest of your degree and, consequently, that it is imperative to put in an equal amount of effort. Here’s why:
- Learning Academic Practices
For many of us, university is a huge change from what we’re accustom to at school, from living away from home to the nature of the work that we’re expected to complete. For many of us, the academic practices that we now have to adhere to are a lot different to and a lot stricter than those we may have used before. First year is an opportunity to imbed these practices in our university skill set. A lot of the time, these practices will be consolidated in class so it’s important to show up and pay attention or you might miss something important!
- Make Your Mistakes Now
Practice makes perfect and this is essentially what first year offers to those freshers who put the work in, a chance to bring their level up to what is expected for an undergraduate degree. Learning from your mistakes is an inevitable but crucial part of this. Whether this is in relation to getting those footnotes perfectly formatted or learning how to manage your time efficiently so you’re not pulling all-nighters when second year rolls around, you cannot learn these things if you do not treat first year as seriously as you would the rest of your degree.
- Prove To Yourself That You Can Do It
This was perhaps the most important factor in my decision to treat first year as though it counted, I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. When I started university, I wasn’t sure that I actually belonged there. I hadn’t done as well at A Level as I had hoped and had taken a year out of studies to get my head back in the game. Finishing the year with a first was the confidence boost that I sorely needed and the proof required to convince myself that I was where I was meant to be.
- Impress the rest
While your grades may not count, first impressions do! Your tutors will certainly be making a note of who the slackers are and who is willing to put in the effort, whether consciously or unconsciously. Taking the time to do your work to the standard expected and meeting your deadlines will prove to your tutors that you are serious about your degree and, perhaps, if things fall apart further down the line, they’ll be more willing to cut you some slack if they know that it is unusual for you.
So, enjoying first year, getting the university experience and making friends are, of course, all vital aspects of the start of your studies but so are your studies themselves. It is crucial that you manage to find a balance between the partying and the more serious side of university life so that you are ready and capable when second year arrives, and those grades do count. As always, if you have any questions or anything to add here, just leave me a comment below!