So you’ve successfully made it into university and are about to embark on what has the potential to be the most enjoyable, challenging and telling time of your life. Not only have you earned the opportunity to study a degree subject that fascinates you, but also the chance to become a more well-rounded and independent individual. The responsibility, freedom and people you encounter will play a large part in your personal development and I hope these few pieces of advice will help you make the smoothest possible transition to university.
- Take advantage of all resources available to you.
Whether it’s an essay, upcoming exam or that group project deadline looming in the distance, times will get tough at university. It is important at these moments that you remain positive and remind yourself that there is a catalogue of resources around you to contribute towards academic success. These go far beyond regular lectures and seminars. Make use of personal tutors, office hours, student mentors and of course, other classmates. But don’t just take advantage of educational resources available to you. Your mental health and general well-being are vital in ensuring you enjoy university to the fullest, so during moments of uncertainty never feel ashamed to seek help from student support or even your fellow peers. University becomes that much harder if you try to go it alone, don’t suffer in silence!
- Enter university with an open mind.
Many of us create an idealised fantasy of what we imagine university is going to be like before we set foot on campus. Most of which may be based on what we see on television and social media. Although our imagination can be shockingly accurate at times, the reality of it all is that university really is whatever you make it. Being launched into a community with people from many different parts of the world, let alone country, can truly open your eyes to a vast amount of cultures and perspectives you may have never encountered.
Furthermore, many of you will be attending universities that you didn’t necessarily have penciled in as your firm choice. Whether through insurance, clearing or adjustment, be proud in the fact that you made it to university. With confidence and an open mind focus on how to make the most of the journey ahead of you, for I assure you ‘No goal is beyond your reach’.
- Expand your horizons – step out of your comfort zone!
There are far too many opportunities at university for you to play small and ‘stick to what you know’. Whether it is a new sport, hobby or society, be sure to try something new and sometimes even a little nerve wracking – you never know what it might lead to. If someone had told me a year ago that I’d perform in a fashion show, drama performance and play American Football at university, I’d really question what type of guy people were taking me for. The beauty of it all is that doesn’t even begin to touch upon the diversity of activities waiting for you to get stuck into. Whether it’s; music, culture, sports, fashion, technology, art or media, I promise you there is something for everyone at university (and if not, start something!). The contribution different societies and activities could have towards your personal development will be invaluable.
- Don’t lose yourself.
Easier said than done. University is definitely a place to find yourself but it’s equally easy to lose yourself. For those of you living away from home the freedom poses both opportunity and risk. It is of great importance that you hold onto the key values and teachings that were instilled in you at home. At the beginning of university I delayed my search for a good church. What really should have been one of my priorities was forgotten. This led to dips in both my confidence and faith as a Christian. Whatever they may be for you, know and remember your clearly defined values – none of which are worth letting go of at university! Gucci Mane said it best – “Don’t get lost in the sauce”.
- Going to university as an ethnic minority.
For so many of you going to university this year, you will be attending as an ethnic minority within the student body. Encountering this myself there are a few things you may be likely to endure. Originally from South East London, being around a select amount of black people at university was a completely new experience. At times you may find yourself reaching out to peers based purely on the mutual colour of your skin. With not one black staff member on my course and only handful students, on occasions it was easy for me to feel under represented or insignificant. Don’t allow this to shake your confidence and your voice will certainly be heard amongst any crowd. You may encounter jokes, comments and micro-aggressions that on the surface seem harmless but deep down anger you. It is crucial to always know that you can and should say something if you feel the line has been crossed! Many people may judge and misunderstand you but none of this will stop you from achieving all the goals you’ve set your sights on at university!
Hope this helps!