What University Taught Me

I have been unfortunate enough to develop a cold this week. It’s my housemates fault. She was boasting about her amazing immune system, and then, of course, two days later came down with the flu. A week later, and she has passed onto me the wooly head, the blocked nose and burst eardrums. Joy.

But enough about my stereotypically british moaning about my health. I realised today that I have less than four weeks until I start my masters! I am ridiculously excited. I was quite worried, for ages. They hadn’t told us when we could pick our modules. Quick fire email to admissions, and it turns out that I pick my modules in the first week of the semester, following a week of introductory lectures. This masters already sounds busier and cooler than my undergrad!

Across the country, A-Level students received their results on Thursday, some will be extremely disappointed, others would have been staring at their paper in sheer shock at achieving their grades. I can remember my own results day, ridiculously clearly. I couldn’t sleep, and was watching TV at six in the morning. Twitchy and overtired, mum drove me to my school and I joined the throngs of my classmates as we waited, twitchy and overtired. There is so much emphasis on getting good grades at A-Level. My school had told me that the intense, mind-breaking workload of sixth form was to prepare us for our university career. And I can tell you now, having finished undergrad, they LIED.

I finished A-Levels with high grades in politics, English lit and biology. My degree choice was Psychology. And I found that university is going from nine till four plus extra homework time daily to about eight or nine hours of lectures per week. It was a culture shock! So, in second year, I made sure I filled the rest of my time with mentoring and dancing. I can’t offer an opinion about different courses, but the stress of A-Levels probably wasn’t worth it. Once you get to university, they want you to think not regurgitate the AQA textbook.

So, my top five things I have learnt at University:

  1. The lecture slides rarely make sense. But you can pass the year with just lecture slides
  2. The extra reading is often pointless
    1. I read 32 articles for my cognition in art exam, and I used a grand total of none of them because the questions were short answer, and any further knowledge obtained was irrelevant.
  3. You will see people in exams you have never seen before in your life.
    1. People will come to the first lecture, then turn up for the exam. You will not be aware of their existence until that final exam and you realise just how many people are on your course
  4. You need to work. Money is a thing. Budgeting is a thing. Rent is a thing. Hobbies are expensive and so it heating.
  5. (In my opinion, the most important of all) You need to do things outside of your course or you will go crazy with boredom and hate it faster. Join societies. Join sports. Hang out on a Tuesday night because you can. The most important lesson university has taught me is not how the brain works (no-one knows that) but how to balance work and fun, class and bills, to enjoy yourself, and to do the best you can. I’m not saying ditch class for fun, which many do. But to make sure you have a good enough balance to enjoy yourself at university.

University is awesome. Even though I hated first year, and it was sheer stubbornness that got me through, university has been one of the best decisions of my life. I have made friends, I have learnt new hobbies, I have acquired leadership skills and self confidence. I can pay my own bills and sort of budget (but then takeaway happens and budget gets a little tight. I’m working on it).

University isn’t for everyone. But if you are starting in September, the best advice I can give you right this second, is:

BUDGET SEPERATELY FOR FRESHERS. Believe me, if you let yourself near your loan, you will be playing catch up all year!

Good luck


(Feature image from Google: Student balance)


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