Welcome to Part 3 of my University Tips from a Graduate! In Parts 1 and 2, I covered the social aspects of University life including friendships, clubs and societies and social life. Now it’s time to focus on the studying side!
Studying at University
We go to University to study, right? Of course, studying is a big part of it, but there is so much more to University life than just learning your course material. Here are some of my personal insights into studying at University.
1. It’s not like school!
When I first went to University, I expected the lecturers to be just like school teachers. But I soon realised that they are not. University doesn’t work in the same way as school. The lecturers are primarily there to do their own projects and research, and teaching the students is basically like a job on the side for them. Of course they care about the students but most of them won’t make an effort (or have time) to get to know you all individually, unless you are in their specific tutor group or similar small group.
If you don’t make yourself known to your lecturers then they probably won’t even know your name or remember you after you leave. That is not necessarily to say that you HAVE to make an effort to know your lecturers. You may be happy just to listen and learn from them. But this is just to let you know that it is different from school. You have to take responsibility for your own learning. If you don’t do the work, they probably won’t seek you out and check up on you – you’ll just get a bad mark.
2. It’s okay to do an all-nighter
This may seem like controversial advice, but it’s okay to do an all-nighter before a deadline sometimes! This may not be for everyone, but if you can cope with a sleepless night sometimes then it’s a fun part of the University experience.
On several occasions, I had left an assignment until the last minute and had to do an all-nighter to finish it. It was actually a really fun experience! There were quite a few other students on my course doing an all-nighter too. We all worked in the computer room in our department, which was open 24-7. Because it wasn’t a library, we didn’t need to be quiet, so we had such a laugh chatting and hanging out while we did our work.
I felt a real sense of community because all my friends and I were working towards the same deadline and we could share in each others’ frustrations and successes. We would continually update each other on our word count if it was an essay. It was also motivating because if another student had nearly finished the assignment, I would be inspired to work harder and catch them up!
I actually enjoyed the adrenaline rush of racing to meet the deadline (as long as I was confident I would meet it! A few times were stressful!) and it was such a good feeling handing the work in. I remember going to the dining hall for breakfast with my friends one morning after doing an all-nighter. We were exhausted and had thoroughly earned that breakfast! After that, we said we were going to go home and sleep, but we were on such a high that we just ended up hanging out all day!
I would recommend doing your all-nighter in a public space such as the library or computer room rather than on your own. This way, you will have the company of other students. You can support each other and keep each other awake. Not to mention sharing snacks!
I don’t recommend doing this every time, because your assignments will catch up on you and you’ll get stressed out. Also, a last-minute assignment isn’t necessarily going to be your best work. But if you do find yourself needing to do an all-nighter, don’t beat yourself up for it. Just enjoy the experience!
3. You will learn more than just your course subject!
Expect to learn as much, if not more, about life and people as you do about your course subject. At the time, your studies may feel like the most important thing – and of course, it is important to do your best so that you can get a good grade! However, I honestly don’t remember much that I learned on my course anymore, but the personal lessons have stayed with me. I grew so much as a person during those three years!
These are some of the things I learned at University that weren’t related to my course:
- Developed my social skills
- Learned about friendships
- Expanded my knowledge of popular culture
- Money management
- Household skills such as cooking, laundry and ironing
- Time management
- IT skills
The personal and social lessons, in particular, have had a bigger effect on my life than anything I learned on my course. So what I am saying is, don’t over-study at the expense of your social life. Get a balance!
Next up: Student Accommodation
This may not have been the type of studying advice that you were expecting. But I hope it has provided an insight into University life and what it is actually like! No matter what course you are doing, and your work-play ratio, you are bound to learn a lot at University.
Have you ever done an all-nighter to meet a deadline? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
In Part 4 of my University tips, I will be talking about student accommodation, including halls of residence and moving out into rented student houses. Watch this space!