Student Blog Squad

Top 5 Things I wish I knew before starting Uni

Hi, I’m Savannah and if you are anything like me, starting university can seem pretty daunting. I want to share some of my wisdom with you so here are a few things I wish I had known before starting university. 
stones balanced on top of each other

1. You will make new friends so don’t worry

When I started in my first year the thought of making new friends was hard and it is something I have always struggled with. When most people head to university they do not end up at the same establishment as their school friends. The prospect of having the start over for me caused all sorts of anxieties to take over, but once I was able to overcome this, I suddenly became a different person who enjoyed meeting new people. With my newfound confidence in my ability to make friends, I signed up to become a student ambassador for the university; where I was able to meet even more people from different years and courses.  

Everyone in their first year is in the same boat, regardless of whether you are an introvert or extrovert so don’t worry if you don’t ‘click’ with everybody instantly. My top tip would be to not limit yourself to just your flat mates and course mates. Go along to different activities/social events and who knows who else you will meet.

You will also have the opportunity to start making friends before you even arrive at university by using social media. Before the term begins you can chat to students on your course and accommodation via the Facebook group chat. This was something I joined prior to moving in and it was a great way to meet some new friends or acquaintances and build confidence before you arrive.

2. Keep your rent deposit protected

Leave your student property in the same condition as you found it. As a student-tenant whether you are in halls or shared housing you can protect your deposit from avoidable deductions by taking photographs/videos and creating an inventory list on the day you move in.

Filling out this form was the first thing I did upon arrival. When completing this checklist, I simply listed all the defects, damage, and any missing items as I went through the property. By declaring this and ensuring that I didn’t damage anything during my tenancy, I was able to receive my full deposit refunded to me upon moving out. Filling out the inventory means that you can avoid paying for any damage that was pre-existing before your arrival, therefore avoiding any disputes with the landlord. If you are not provided with an inventory on arrival, ask for one and create one yourself in the meantime.

3. You do not need to live up to the student stereotype

Not every student in university has to match the stereotype of the typical student. I was never the kind of person to be out every night enjoying the nightlife. Partying was never was really an activity that appealed to me and that is okay. Some students, including myself, would much rather spend their free time having pyjama movie nights, going bowling, playing mini-golf, or making to-do lists to ensure any course work gets done. So do not panic if you are not a party animal as this is definitely not the be all and end all of student life.

It sounds cliché but just be yourself and that is all anyone can ask of you. Simply avoid doing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or you feel goes against your character. There are plenty of other activities for students to do and there will be plenty of students who share your interests too. For example, in your halls there are usually communal areas where you will be able to find other quieter people chilling out, watching the television, or playing pool.

Although it is important to make friends as previously mentioned, it is more essential that these friends are your kind of people. You should not feel peer pressured into acting a certain way at university. What makes you different, can make you stand out amongst the rest, so try to avoid comparing or moulding yourself to become a student stereotype that you are not.

4. Referencing should not be left until last

If there is one thing I would encourage you to remember when writing your essays it’s that referencing your work should be something you do as you go along. Trust me, it is best practice and makes writing the reference list a whole lot easier. It also means that you avoid missing any potential material that you have read or quoted from. This is something I naturally did anyways, and thought was the norm until I learnt how many students on my course did the opposite. You will soon discover a common trend among students who leave referencing until the end and many will say that referencing is their least favourite task, but as you will realise from my advice referencing as you go along makes the task less tedious.

It’s important to listen to the advice you are given during induction week about referencing in order to start referencing the correct way instantly. If it is something you struggle with, access the library resource Quote Unquote which displays examples of how different citations should look. This tool was the best thing I used for my entire university course work experience; it will become your best friend. If you’re still struggling after using this, don’t worry. You can also attend academic writing workshops in the library for extra support. Learning to reference correctly can set you off to a flying start at university, improving your work quality as well as avoiding being unfairly accused of plagiarism. 

5. Always read your assessment criteria

In college I never really paid attention to the assessment criteria I would be marked on for essays, and until university it was not something I ever thought about. When I started university, it became apparent just how important meeting the learning outcomes was, as it can be the difference between a grade. By paying attention to the assessment criteria I noticed a significant increase in the grade percentage I would receive, and my second-year grades were a massive improvement from my first year.

Located in your module handbook, the learning outcomes assessed are numbered, and typically as the number ascends the more difficult that outcome can be. The assessment criteria is simply there to guide you and sets out exactly what the examiner expects to see covered in the work you produce. My advice would be to read the criteria closely, highlight any keywords, or as many annotations of questions you would like and make sure to ask your lecturer should you not understand anything. By covering all points, you are more highly to achieve a higher grade.

On a final note, I hope you enjoy your time at Leeds Beckett. Remember to just be yourself, and if you are unsure of anything just ask. I hope this blog has been of use to you and you are now excited to get started!

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