Thursday, 18 February 2016


5 ways and tips to survive first year of uni, tips for first year of uni, university tips, nervous about university first year
People don't usually 'know' how to survive university. It surprises me how many students forget that they are there to study and not to go to Revs 4 nights a week. As I enter semester two of my first (technically second) year of University, I figured I would share some tips on how to survive your first year. I have done a previous year of Media and dropped out after semester one because I didn't like the course. I am now on a different course and I am taking it way more seriously, so I figured I would share my top tips with you to help you get by!

Scheduling/Time Management
Ultimately, you have to get a schedule together and understand that if you can't be bothered to attend most lectures, you're going to get a pretty rubbish grade. I study English Literature so I try to attend as many lectures as possible or I can fall behind on the reading I need to do and that affects my essays. If am one text down, I am also one text down that I could use for critical analysis... and that could have been the easiest text to analyse! See my point? Try to attend, because it's not always enough to access powerpoints after class. Lecturers might give you a website to go on to access reading material or just some handy tips for your essay such as what texts not to do. (Yes, that happens!)

If I could give fresher me one piece of advice, it would be this: Don't use your laptop for uni note taking. Don't use one notepad either. When you come to revise or write an essay and need the information, it'll be very hard to find. How are you supposed to take good notes on a computer? And how are you supposed to organise a notepad? Folders are 10000% the easiest way to organise your uni handouts and life, trust me. (I used a laptop in my fresher semester and it was a huge fail.)

My favourite way to organise is to have a different folder for each subject/module and organise the folder in 3 ways.

1. The first section is essential 'stuff' like handouts, course module guide (this contains my assignments and reading list etc)
2. A printables section with pages such as 'definitions', 'essay plan' sheets etc.
3. .. then I have my lectures and seminars. I put a sticky tab by each one so I know if the notes are from the seminar or lecture. Sometimes I just merge this stuff together for classes where I don't write a great deal.

Each folder is labeled with the day, time and room I have that subject in. It takes a while to get done, but it is worth it once I have amazingly organised folders that take all of 2 minutes to locate a handout or set of notes in! As an example, I have 4 core subjects in English Literature: Imaginative writing, Greek Tragedy, Literary Criticism and A History of English Literature. If I had just one notebook for all of these, I would find it difficult to cope when it came to referring back to each lecture and seminar I have been to. It would get very messy, very quickly. My folders don't stay neat all the time but I try to staple things together when I can and include what week it is, the date and make sure the notes  or handouts I get go into the right section. I also write like a toddler in lectures and seminars, but once I am home, I re-write my notes with colourful pens and make sure to add any other important info I may have missed. I'm a little bit obsessive over my notes, but again, colourful notes make for fabulous revision material. 

As mentioned, I use a lot of printables. I have essay plans, definition pages where I am able to quickly refer back to any words I am unsure of, weekly planners, to do lists.. I use ones from a popular tumblr blog called The Organised Student. There are lots of others on Pinterest that you can find and believe me when I say your future self is grateful when you have a list of words to look back to use in your essays when you're stuck! I also ask my lecturer to give me some points I could possibly use from a text, and I note these down in my essay plans. It really doesn't hurt to start early, which is why printables are so great.

Starting Essays Early
Let me repeat that. Start your essays earlier than the day before they're due. I won't preach about this too much as I started two of my essays in semester one, four days before they were due in. Making an essay plan early and even starting the introduction 3 weeks before the essay is due makes life so much easier in the long run. Print out an essay planning sheet and write some key points down. Take down feedback from your lecturers about what you can do to improve your essays next time and apply that criticism to your next essay. I know it hurts to look at a marking of your essay and read a lecturer called Graham who talks about his wife's love for Waitrose pain au chocolat saying how crap a section of your essay was (we've all been there) but just do it, read it and then apply to the next essay.
Money Management
It's way too easy to look at a chunk of cash in your bank and forget how long it has to last you. When you get your loan, an easy way to budget is to move it entirely into a savings account and transfer over the funds you have allotted for each week on the Sunday. That way you're never tempted to spend it all on a bomber jacket and joni jeans in Topshop and you won't be starving the last 2 weeks. Think of the money in your savings as 'not there'. Act like Sunday is your payday and you will honestly have a way better system to manage your money. I'd also recommend getting a job to all students, even if you don't need to work. It will give you cash flow and a sense of responsibility that you can pop onto your CV for the future.

Great jobs at uni:
Restaurants (tipstipstipstips)
Starbucks, Costa etc (Free coffee, food to take home at the end of the day etc)
Food stores such as Tesco superstore/Local Co-op (Great rates of pay)

Bad jobs at uni:
Bar Staff (Zero work life balance)
Nightclub work (Same as above, with the added extra pressure of working til 4/6am)
Promoter/ticket seller (Really?)

Do you have any helpful tips for your past or present student self?

You can also find me at:


  1. This is super helpful advice! One of the best things I've learned is to read - not in that way, but figuring out how well and how much of a text I need to read. Like last week a guest lecturer uploaded 3 scientific articles, 100 pages each - it's ridiculous to try to read everything, and not everything is equally important. Sometimes you need to learn to prioritize if you want to stay sane! x

    - Anne / annesmiles

    1. I agree, sometimes when a lecturer asks you to read an entire book or huge essay, and you know you're not going to include that work in your assignment, why bother when you could be studying the persons work that you do want to use! x

  2. This will be super helpful when I start looking and thinking about uni next year. Great post!
    Ashleigh xxx

  3. Completely agree with all of this, it's great to set good habits in the first year. I'm going back to university soon to study my Masters.


What do you think?

Blogger Template by pipdig