You’ll probably have two main aims at university: to enjoy yourself, and to do well in your degree.
Enjoying yourself is usually the easy bit – you’ll have new friends, more freedom than you’re used to, and a subject that you (hopefully) love. “Doing well” can be a bit trickier, because it’s all about balance. But don’t worry…
Here are 14 things that will help you prepare for uni success:
1. Be dedicated
University doesn’t come cheap, so work hard. Commit to your degree. You’ve most likely had to work hard to get here, so make it worthwhile. There’s plenty of fun to be had at university, and denying yourself a good time isn’t the answer, but you need to commit yourself to your degree.
Treat it like a relationship – there’ll be times when you and studying just don’t get along, but persevere and remember why you’re here. Which brings us onto our next point…
2. Know where you’re going
Don’t worry if you don’t have an exact career plan, but try to visualise where you want your degree to take you. Start thinking about industries that interest you, and consider how your degree can work with your passions. If you have a dream job, put it to the front of your mind whenever you’re lacking motivation.
This may take some practice, but having an end goal can keep you on track when your mind is wandering and your urge to procrastinate seems overpowering.
3. Show up to classes
Lectures, seminars, and office hours with tutors are all in place to help you get to your final goal. Courses are meticulously designed, and each discussion, presentation, and assignment is a building block to take you from undergrad to graduate.
Some modules might not excite you, but they’ll contain valuable information. If you’re struggling to make it to scheduled classes, look at how much you’re spending on an hour’s worth of education with this tool from Save the Student.
You’ll be far less likely to skip out on a day’s worth of classes if you know the financial equivalent – it probably averages around £60 a day!
4. Get to know the library
Academic libraries are treasure troves of information. Not only is the library a great place to study if you like to immerse yourself in your work, but you’ll usually be able to find all your coursebooks (though there might be a waiting list for books on popular courses), and there’ll be a mountain of further reading.
When you’re presented with your reading list, the thought of further reading might feel intimidating, but reading a wider range of materials than just what’s required will give you an edge above other students. Your work will be more thorough and informed, and you’ll stand out to your tutors as a committed and passionate student.
5. Revise what you learn
The leap from sixth-form or college to university can feel like a big one, and you’ll be expected to study and retain a lot more information, and with less guidance than you’re used to.
Revision isn’t the most glamorous part of studying, but reviewing the notes you take in lectures, and re-reading sets texts will help you hold onto more of what you’ve learned. If you’re starting to feel a bit hazy on something you studied last term, try to read up on it, so that you’ve not forgotten it by the time your exams come around.
6. Study with your friends
It’s recommended that you study for around 20 hours in addition to your contact time – that’s time with lecturers and tutors. This might vary depending on your degree, but you should think about university like a full-time job if you want to get the most out of it.
That being said, putting in those hours of independent study can get pretty lonely. Try to make friends with coursemates and join study groups, and, if you’re a Fusion student, you should definitely make use of the beautiful study space we have to study socially rather than holing up in your room for hours on end – and then…
7. Spend down time with your friends
University life is all about balance, and it’s essential to make time to relax. Hard work with no relief can damage your mental health, and result in reduced productivity. Try to get away from your desk on day trips, nights out, and nights in, to give your brain some well-earned down time. Regular breaks and activities you enjoy will refresh your mind – much as having rest days from the gym refreshes your body.
8. Get plenty of sleep
Just like those gym rest days, mental rest is absolutely essential if you want to maintain a positive outlook and a healthy mind. You’ll find that sleep deprivation affects your ability to concentrate and retain information, so even when you’ve got a looming deadline or an exam to study for, make sure you’re getting plenty of shut-eye.
You may feel like you don’t have time to get a full 7-8 hours (that’s the recommended amount), but you’ll be grateful when you wake up fresh and with a clear head.
9. Praise yourself
A lot is expected of you at uni. Pressure from parents, tutors, your friends, and yourself can help to motivate you, but can also get your stress levels up.
Take pride in good grades, in finishing work on time, and in putting in a couple of hours in the library. Reward yourself when you’ve worked hard – this might be with a night out, with an ASOS order, or even with a Netflix binge, but praising yourself when you work hard can be really effective at keeping your motivation up when your energy levels are down.
10. Switch off when you’re studying
Social media is brilliant for keeping in touch with friends and family, for getting inspired, for getting the latest news… But it can also be detrimental to your mental health and concentration.
If you find you’re opening Snapchat every time you look away from your screen, or are checking WhatsApp to keep up with the group chat, turn off your phone until you’ve finished the chapter you’re reading or the section you’re writing.
Be careful of binging on social media in your downtime too – we’re all too familiar with #goals, and while inspiration is a good thing, it’s important to separate the perfection you see online from reality. Remember that what most people share on social media is the polished, edited, curated version of their life, so don’t let it get you down.
Instagram will show the people you follow living their best lives in their best clothes, with their best friends, in the slickest gyms, or the swankiest bars, but that’s probably not their entire reality. Be grateful for what you have, and take time to check in with the people and activities that make you happy.
12. Prioritise your mental health
There are all kinds of pressures at university. Family expectations, course requirements, peer pressure – and they’re all (mostly) well intentioned. However, take stock of how you feel each day. Need an evening to yourself? Want to cut out drink or junk food for a few days? Feeling like you could do with getting outside? Listen to your mind and your body; Take a look at our tips for mindfulness and self-care.
13. Find space that makes you happy
Your surroundings have a huge impact on your wellbeing and ability to study. Find a place to study and to relax that keeps you feeling calm and happy. Hopefully, that’s your student room, but common areas and outside spaces can also give you breathing (and thinking!) room.
Whether you’re a fresher or a seasoned third-year…
Following these tips and work to the best of your ability. Getting a first-class degree is no mean feat, but self-belief and balance will help you get there. For more study tips, city guides, and general student life advice, check out our blog.