First-year at university can be one of the best years of your life. All the fun and barely any responsibility. I mean “first-year doesn’t even count,” right? I don’t know how many times I heard that or even said that when I chose a night out over studying. Moving on to second-year can be daunting, so here’s what I found, and how I managed.
*quick before we start* If you want to support the Black Lives Matter Movement while reading this blog, Stream to Donate means you can leave the tab open and 100% of the ad revenue will go to Black Lives Matter. I am in no way affiliated, I just do this often! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKo8OrBdLz8
Most *and I stress, MOST* second-year grade averages will count to 25-30% of your final degree. Specifically mine is 25%, so the grades I get for my second year, which I have just completed will account to 25% of my degree. Not too bad eh. 25% sounds really easy. But then I thought I only have 1 year to get the best grades I can for the remaining 75%. Now anything can happen in a year (as we can see from the current situation). So the best way to approach grades is as though the percentage is split evenly, so do your best to make sure one bad grade in third-year doesn’t set you back to much.
First-year was full of zoo parties, traffic life parties, and more Aldi Peach Schnapps than I want to remember. And I loved it. But one thing you will notice about second-year is that people start to chose Dominos and Love Island over a Tuesday club night. People start to stress more since it ‘matters’, realise they need a job since their overdraft ran out, or just aren’t feeling it. I get it, working part-time and studying is tough, and we try as hard as we can but sometimes Netflix and a Chinese just sounds soooo much better. The best aspect of social life for me was house parties. As I was no longer in grotty student accommodation, there was so much more space in the house. Plus as I lived in a student area outside of the city, the best (and cheapest) nights happened there.
I’m very lucky in my course from the fact that I can choose to do a Dissertation or a work-based learning project, which is much more my style. It is based on getting an internship and bettering your options, by researching CVs and cover letters, for example. To get a headstart they’ve asked us to look into internships. I know this is moving to third-year, however, internships can be remote, especially now, and are extremely valuable experience at any level, so something early while you have time is worth it.
Graduate. Ew. Terrifying. The idea of graduating is scary and overwhelming to so many people but isn’t really addressed often. Getting a headstart on your graduate job is essential and will take such a weight off your shoulders during third-year. My best friend created an amazing documentary for her third-year university project which explains Post Graduate Depression, using real-life experiences. Again, I am not affiliated, she’s my best mate and I’m bloody proud.
Actually Get to Know your Tutors
They are your lifeline. If you need help, the best place to go is the people marking your work. By making an effort to greet, treat them as people rather than someone you see 9 hours a week from the back of a hall, can be really beneficial. For instance, take advantage of their office hours, they are there to be open and talk. I don’t mean speak for 2 hours on how your IBS is acting up. But if you are unsure of an essay, or somethings going on, it’s great to keep them in the loop and they can offer guidance or extensions.
Also, from the point above about graduate/internship opportunities, most of your lecturers will have worked in your specific field, so get networking! One of my lecturers is a professional journalist and really put the time and effort to help me find an internship and proof my CV and cover letter to make sure it was perfect, to which I am extremely grateful for, sadly Covid-19 happened, but I still have a very professional CV.
SORT YOUR HOUSE ASAP
Unless you’re stupid like me. I signed my contract on the 1st of June and I will get my keys on the 30th of June. It was an unbelievable amount of stress, not only on me, my housemates, my parents, even my friend’s parents were stressed. I’m lucky to live in an area with an abundance of student housing, but we were even luckier to get a cheap one that’s really nice so late. The unspoken rule is to start looking around November, not sure if that’s just Liverpool. But honestly its just something else to think about during exam season if not.
Try Something New
Freshers and Refreshers aren’t only for first-years, get yourself down there for the free dominos, free taxi merch, and random samples that you don’t need. Why not join a society, make some new friends, try out a new skill, you can easily leave if not. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again joining the poker society with 0 poker skills was one of my best decision since starting uni (says a lot really). Social nights out are so funny because no one cares. 90% lads too ;).
Why not become the face of your university? get yourself on the prospectus, billboards, and even buses around town. Its so worth the £10 amazon voucher when lads recognise you in the club. And no sorry I won’t be doing autographs.
It’s okay to leave.
University is not for everyone. Being a ‘drop-out’ is not a bad thing. You had the courage to leave a situation that wasn’t right for you. There is so much out in the world that you can be happy doing. There are so many options, if you are feeling overwhelmed and want to leave, speak to your tutor first. It may feel awkward, but explain whats going on, see if they can help. Leave the meeting more informed. For instance, you can get grants and scholarships to help financially, extensions to help with assignments and counseling to help with your mental health. John Moore’s has a very good mental health service, which has helped a lot of students. Even if you are choosing to leave, try, and book an appointment before you go as counseling through the NHS or private can be very difficult. You are able to defer for a year. For instance, if you need to take a year out for any number of reasons, you are able to join back a year later for second-year. Even if university definitely isn’t your thing, that is more than okay, there are so many jobs, hobbies, apprenticeships, internships where you don’t need a degree.
I loved second-year. I didn’t have the best first year, but I kept going and am so thankful for that. It was tougher academically, however having the resources available definitely changed my mindset. Finding the right study technique will be so beneficial. Keep going we’re almost there! Let me know what you thought the biggest difference from the first to the second year was.
Thank you to Amaara @unistudent_ramblings for the recommendation, if anyone has a blog they would like me to write lemme know!
All opinions are my own.