We have all been there, scouring the internet for the best advice out there because we just found out that we got accepted into uni. What to bring? What not to bring? What to do? What not to do? Well… this isn’t the best advice this is just me reflecting, regretting and celebrating my four years at uni.
- I should have joined more societies. That is not to say I didn’t join any, I did. I joined the Kent Snow Skiing society. Well not officially. I did not pay the membership fee, I was never officially initiated in and I have never skied a day in my life, but I was dragged to every single social and I did know every single member in the society. Now I am not complaining, it was great but very quickly you realise that it is always the same nights out, the same games and the same conversations and at some point, you want some variety in your life. So yeah, I wish I had joined more societies just so I could experience uni with a bit more perspective.
- I should have made more friends on my course. Don’t get me wrong I had plenty of friends, but they were all doing something different to me. I had no one in my close circle who I could discuss essays with or who I could ask for notes if I ever missed a seminar. It would have been so convenient to have a close friend on the course who could remind you that you have a test coming up or give you a heads up that the seminar leader cancelled the session, so you don’t turn up to an empty room. All I’m saying is that it would have been nice to be able to relate to someone on that level.
- I should have done more research before renting my first proper house in second year. Renting 101, do not rent houses as a huge group, do not go for “bills included” packages and if the estate agent tells you that the property is “very suitable for student” run. If you have a big group of friends, split the group in half and rent two different houses close to each other. A house with six of your friends sounds great until you clean the kitchen only to have it looking like a pigsty by the end of the day because six different people have cooked six different meals and left something behind on the counter. And if you only have one bathroom between you… may the odds, be ever in your favour. The bills included packages means that you’re charged an extra £20-£60 a month on top of your rent, when you could be paying £40-£70 every three months straight to the supplier. If you’re at a house viewing and the estate agent says “this property is very suitable for students” I can guarantee you that the walls are paper thin and at least one kitchen cabinet door is hanging on by its last hinges. This phrase means that everything is poor quality because they don’t trust students with expensive better-quality furniture.
- I should have let some people go much sooner than I did. So, you’ve moved into your accommodation, you’ve made friends with your flatmates and then you realise that you don’t actually have that much in common, but you continue to hang out and be friends because you’re scared that if you leave them, you’ll be left by yourself. Believe me you won’t be. All it takes is striking up a random conversation with the person next you in a seminar, on the bus or even in the library and then if you get along, you go and get a coffee together. Before you know it, you’ve found your best friend and that toxic, co-dependent housemate is no longer in the picture.
- I should have found a part-time job sooner. We all know spending money is easier than earning it, but did you know that it is easier to budget when you have a regular smaller source of income rather than the huge sum of money that gets dropped into your bank account at the start of every term. Also, there is this thing called savings, to be completely honest I jumped on that wagon far too late. You’re having fun, going out, treating yourself and before you know it, you’re in your final year and you have to start thinking about what you’re going to do after uni. Having some amount of money to fall back on gives you a huge sense of security.
- I should have found an internship sooner. Searching for a decent job in your field of interest is harder than you expect. Having some kind of relevant experience on your CV will increase your chances far more than you think. You start looking for jobs and you think you have all the necessary qualifications for it, but no one wants to hire a graduate that has no idea what they’re doing on the job. Training someone from square one is too much of a hassle for most companies and they would much rather hire someone who already knows the ropes of the job.
- I should not have had to teach an 18-year-old how to cook pasta. You would be surprised how many people move to uni and think they can survive on toast, cereal and pot noodles. I mean you can survive off that if you want but every now and then you’d want to have a decent meal. Also, multi-surface disinfectant wipes are not the holy grail, you need way more cleaning products than that if you want to keep your house somewhat hygienic. Some people do not know that and teaching them what products, where and how to use them is not your responsibility.
- I should not have left some of my assignments until the day before the deadline. At some point in your uni days you will decide to go on a night out rather than stay at home and do your assignments. When your friends post their night out all-over social media and you get a serious case of FOMO, it is sometimes hard to turn down an invitation. But trust me that the fear of missing out suddenly becomes insignificant when you get your results back for an assignment that you spent hours on, and the grade reflects the work you put into it. You feel amazing and you want to show off your work much more than you would want to show off the pictures that you took on a night out. Take my word for it, the pictures are probably blurry, some random stranger has photobombed some of them and there is always that one friend that looks like a mess and will not let you post the pictures anyway.
- I should not have bought every single book that was suggested. Academic books are far more expensive than you expect, they are also much heavier than you expect and carrying them around with you will almost break your back. So, you end up with £160 worth of books sitting on your bookshelf that you will occasionally flick through when you need to find a specific quote for an assignment. It may come as a shock, but the university library actually has at least several copies of the textbook that you need, that nobody takes out because you picked a niche module, and it’s free (as long as you return it on time). Worst come to the worst, you cannot get a hold of this book, your professor probably has a copy of it in their office and if you email them asking if you could borrow it to photocopy a few pages they will probably lend it to you. If they are really nice, they’ll do the photocopying for you and you won’t have to pay 5p per page to print it out yourself.
- I should not have brought my desktop computer with me. You’re moving to uni you think a bigger screen will be better and easier to write your assignments on until you want to write your assignment in bed, and you cannot very well drag your entire desk across your room. Sometimes you want to recreate that typical movie scene where the university student is sitting in the corner of a little coffee shop furiously typing away on their laptop looking all mysterious and professional. Oh, wait you can’t do that because your huge desktop computer would never fit on those tiny coffee tables. Another factor to consider, you’ll be at university at least three or four years which means you’ll probably be living in three or four different accommodations, so you have to move three or four times. Now you have a choice whether you want to move from one house to another with a tiny laptop or a huge, fragile computer that weighs way more than you thought.
I think that’s about it, my 10 things that I should or should not have done at uni. Keep in mind these are not solid pieces of advice that you have to adhere to, no scientific research has been done to support these ideas. They are simply conclusions that I arrived at through my experiences. One day in three or four years-time, maybe more that depends on you, when you reach the end of you final year you will arrive at your own conclusions and I promise you, they will be similar to these. In the mean time, just have fun.