Written by Cameron Gill, BA Film

It’s there, isn’t it? That feeling you can’t seem to shake? How would you describe it? Palms are sweaty. Knees weak. Arms are heavy. Sweater covered in mum’s spaghetti. Well maybe it’s a sensation that can’t be fully defined by Eminem lyrics but I’m sure some of you are feeling it – that inevitable anxiety that hits us all when our life at university is just about to begin.

Looking back, I remember how I felt before I went to study at uni. I wished I could have spoken to someone who’d already been through the experience. I imagine some of you feel the same. But fear not, as I am here with some advice from myself and a few of my graduating friends to ease your worried mind.

Here’s a list of 5 top tips from graduates who have been there, been scared and ultimately been blessed with a great experience at the University of Reading.

  1. Be adventurous

    When arriving at a new place it’s so easy to play it safe. At uni you can easily stick with your flat, alternating your evenings between assignments, Netflix and going out, but there is so much more available out there.

    One of graduates stressed that you should, ‘throw yourself into any and all opportunities you can, and enjoy yourself! There are so many societies, work experience opportunities and events run by and around the uni.’ The university is a thriving, central hub of activities outside of your course and your flat and you should absolutely put yourself out there and enjoy it!

    Read about all the activity groups that the Reading University Student’s Union has to offer.There’s more to Reading than the university, so ‘don’t be afraid to explore Reading town centre. There are lots of hidden gems and fun things to do but it takes a little searching.’

  2. Embrace your course

    Going out and seizing the day is great but we have to remember that study is also a vital part of university life (I know I needed reminding a few times). Study doesn’t have to be dull.

    Our graduates say you must, ‘pick a course you actually want to do. The worst thing you could do for yourself is come to university and study a subject you’re not absolutely in love with.’ Studying something you really enjoy is ‘way better than working in A-Levels,’ and allows you to ‘work whenever you want rather than having to go in 9-3.30,’ giving you freedom to complete you work on your own schedule.

    Also, your course will offer more topics and modules that you might expect, giving you the ability to tailor your higher education to best suit your interests.

  3. Get organised

    ‘Absolutely make a schedule.’ This may seem like an intimidating statement but being organised at uni is essential. Our psychology graduate advises that you, ‘plan out your weeks and stick to that schedule.’

    I didn’t know the meaning of the phrase “there aren’t enough hours in the day” until uni came along. Work comes at you at an alarming speed and you won’t last long if you don’t make an effort to stay on top of everything.’ Now don’t let this panic you. This is all advice to help streamline your university life and make it as enjoyable as possible. Take it from our psychology graduate who says, ‘I found that the more that I stuck to my schedule, the more time I had to socialise.’

  4. Work hard, play hard

    Worries about working while completing your studies are common place at uni, but a part time job can actually be a blessing in disguise.

    Graduate: ‘Unexpectedly, the thing I enjoyed most here was working alongside my degree. I was worried that I would miss out on things my friends were doing when I was at work, but I was able to make new friends where I worked, and then had more money to be able to have more fun at other times!’

    A job at uni can give you financial independence and disposable income. The University of Reading itself has a number of jobs available for students but don’t think your horizons are limited to the campus itself. A cybernetics graduate says that, ‘if you have time in your schedule (hint, you probably do) find a job in town, campus is great but working in town really make Reading feel like home.’

  5. Friends can be anywhere

    I remember the irrational fears I had when arriving at uni, thinking that I wouldn’t find anyone to be friends with. Fortunately, new mates can literally be down the corridor from you, as detailed by our cybernetics graduate: ‘Sharing a kitchen with a group of strangers doesn’t sound super fun, especially with all the horror stories you hear, but most of my best friends and a lot of my favourite memories come from the nearby kitchens in my first year.’

    At university it’s so easy to find like-minded individuals if you put yourself out there. Friends, whether they’re flat mates or course mates, make your university experience. ‘It’s cheesy, but your company through university is what gets you through university,’ says a Film & Theatre graduate. ‘I thought it would be a lot harder to find a perfect niche of people, but I was thankfully wrong.’

Well there you go! 5 top tips from University of Reading students who have been through it all and come out of the other side, smiling and willing to share their wisdom with the next generation of Reading students. We hope that this has been helpful and calmed some of your pre-study nerves. It’s natural to feel nervous with such a big change to your life coming up but just remember, you’re not the first person to through it.