How to Overcome First Year of Uni Challenges
Embarking on your university career is a great adventure, a learning curve, and an important part of your life. However, it does come with some rough patches here and there. These are more apparent in first year as you transition from the comfort of Sixth Form or College with familiar faces and teachers who may have known you for years, to a whole new environment where you’ll need to make new friends, meet academic expectations, and live independently.
If you’re heading to university soon, be prepared to face these challenges head-on with our practical and effective tips, helping you to keep your mental health in check.
Many university students move away from home to study in a different city, or even a different country. Leaving your family, friends, the comfort of your home, and the city where you grew up can be difficult. Whether you’ll soon be living two hours away or eight hours away, it’s undoubtable that you will experience some sort of homesickness during your time at university, especially in first year.
Plan to visit home every so often, particularly for special events like a relative’s birthday or a friend’s party. Keep in touch with your loved ones over the phone or video call them instead. Also, many universities have peer support groups which you could join to talk about your problems.
Moving away from your friends back home could mean that you talk to each other less, and see each other less. This is quite normal! As you try to form new social groups in your university setting, you may be missing out on quality time with friends back home. Make the effort to keep in touch with them, and arrange to meet up with them when you travel back home.
Developing friendships at university can be a daunting endeavour, but you’ll fit in to different groups before you know it. Keep an open mind, go to different types of social events, speak up in class, and something that’s very important: introduce yourself to your flatmates, and those in the flat next door or above!
The jump from A-Levels or a College course to university can be quite a big one in terms of the quality of work you’re expected to hand in. Your university’s academic expectations may be higher than what you’d anticipated, meaning you’ll have to work harder, concentrate more, and learn from the feedback you’re given.
Don’t stress about this! First year is a learning curve. Your first essay or project will be the first time you’re writing in an academic style and tone, working with guidelines from your professor. Have a meeting with them to talk over your hand-in to ensure you’re on the right track, do your best, then use the constructive feedback to make your next hand-in even better.
Developing good habits
First year will see you socialising a lot, with Freshers’ events, club nights and parties keeping you up all night. Remember to stay safe especially if you’re drinking. Keep hydrated, make sure your friends are also being safe, and understand what “affirmative consent” means. Moreover, hangovers can cause poor mental health and lack of concentration the following day. Couple this with lack of sleep and you’re in for an unproductive day. It’s great to socialise, but only go to the events that you’ll enjoy, and won’t regret the next day.
It’s also important to develop good habits like time management and prioritising in terms of your lectures, deadlines and meetings. In terms of staying healthy, make sure you’re cooking healthy meals that will give you all the nutrients you need to stay alert, productive, and happy.
Tuition fees are rising making it harder for prospective university students to manage their money effectively. Many students have loans to help them with tuition fees as well as maintenance fees, for those staying on campus.
If you’re struggling to budget your money while at university, think about create a budgeting spreadsheet outlining your food, travel, and socialising costs alongside rent and bills. Also, consider a part-time job. On-campus jobs are a good way to earn some money on the side. Your shifts – at the student bar for example – will be in line with your lectures and extra-curricular activities, and as the job will be on site, you won’t have to worry about travel costs.