Third Year Geographer, Jack shares his advice on how to ‘Juggle Everything at University and Own it!’
So, you’ve done it! After countless hours sat staring at textbooks and past papers, your eyes held open only by the buckets of coffee you’ve been plying yourself with and a new (or for those of you who, like me, find ourselves ‘allergic’ to the bleep test, squash and that new fangled ‘futsal’, an increased) hatred for the sports hall; you’re in – one of the biggest doors in life has officially opened up.
But now what? You’ve probably read article upon article about Fresher’s and heard some pretty tall tales from those mystical beings called university students, who, only a few weeks ago likely seemed about as alien to you as, well, aliens. So what’s the point of this I hear you ask? Well, I’m not writing about Fresher’s; you don’t need me to tell you it’s going to be amazing, but what I will say is Reading caters for all, so whether you’re into clubbing, quizzes, karaoke, Quidditch (yes, really), Fresher’s will have something for you – this article however is going to give you an insight into the more practical side of university: How to balance Study, Part-time work, Volunteering and maintaining a social life.
The reason you’re really here? Joking aside, there’s so much on offer at university that it can be a bit overwhelming and it’s very easy to get into the ‘first year doesn’t count’ mentality, which, although true, is a dangerous train of thought. First year is where you develop yourself as a student, find your strengths and weaknesses and ultimately is a barometer for how well you’re transitioning into the different assessment styles to that in school.
GO. TO. LECTURES: University is hugely different from school in the sense that you’re almost wholly independent; no one is going to phone you up or pester you to do the work, if you don’t do something it’s down to you. One of the best ways to nail the studying aspect of uni life is to simply attend all your scheduled lectures, seminars and practical’s – it seems blindingly obvious but simply going along to everything on your timetable will save you hours when it comes to revision and coursework (trust me…). As well as making assessments easier, one of the best places to meet likeminded people other than societies is in your lectures; you’re all here to study the same thing after all!
Do the further reading: (Or at least some of it). Each lecturer will set some form of further reading for you to do. If you do it when it’s set you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress – and remember you’re not going to be asked what the seventh word on the thirty second page is, so sometimes skimming the paper to get an overview of the overarching themes and ideas can be enough – use your judgement.
Don’t leave it till the night before: As tempting as it can be, leaving work untill the night before never, ever, goes well. Whether it’s simply not getting it done in time or falling asleep dribbling on the desk in front of that person you’ve had your eye on in tomorrow’s lecture…
Part-time work and Volunteering
Supplement your loan: Part time work is a great way to gain experience to boost your CV as well as supplementing your income – as a rule it doesn’t exceed 20 hours a week (including weekends). There’s a wide array of jobs on campus and in the local area including the oracle so be sure to check MyJobsOnline and the new Campus Jobs website as well as handing in your CV.
Volunteer: Volunteering is an amazing way of meeting new people, gaining experience and having fun – all for a worthwhile cause! Check out Reading Rag (Raise and Give) to get involved in fundraising opportunities from running events to Jailbreak: seeing how far away you can get from the University without spending any money in a given time limit (The record is Dubai, yes, really!).
Be honest, how many of you skipped to this section first?
Find your crowd: Flat-mates into drum and bass? Couldn’t think of anything worse? Don’t worry if you don’t meet the right crowd instantly! Make sure you join a society/sports club you’re interested in or try something completely new – trust me; you’ll gravitate to the right crowd for you.
Say no if you need to: All your flat-mates off out but got a deadline in the morning? It’s perfectly OK to say no – that goes for drinking too – top tip within a top tip: do uni on YOUR terms, no-one else’s.
Don’t forget your folks: They’ve supported you through thick and thin, from driving you across the width and breadth of the country looking at universities to making sure you had enough kitchen equipment (if, like my mum, your folks like to know you’re fully prepared you’ll have enough utensils to sink a small ship) – trust me, whoever your folks are, they’ll appreciate a quick call every now and then!
So, there you have it – my list of top tips on how to completely own your time at university – whatever course you’re doing, whatever you’re interested in, whoever you are, welcome to The University of Reading!