My time at university so far…
As you start to make your firm choices on UCAS, I imagine you’ll get a lot of input about what it’s like in first year. However, you will be at university for at least 3 years and in my experience, each year is very different from the last.
When you start your course, people will say things like ‘chill out, first year doesn’t count!’ etc. Sadly for me that wasn’t the case as it did contribute to my final degree classification, so I did have to do a bit of work. In first year, I had a lot more contact hours, as I had more lecture units, and labs almost every week. However, the content was easier and I had no coursework. This will vary from degree to degree, but everyone will tell you about how much free time they had in first year, and normally, how much more they wished they’d done with it. Second year was very different for me in that I had fewer lectures, but MUCH more coursework and group work. Whereas in first year I had a lot of morning lectures, unless I had a looming deadline, or really needed to go over some material again, I would then normally be able to just go home and maybe do some reading. In contrast, during my second year I LIVED in the library. I started to take seriously the lecturer’s suggestion to write my revision notes as I went along and I also I had so various essays, lab reports and group presentations to work on. Work-wise, second year is normally a pretty big jump up from first year.
Besides work, there’s also the living arrangements; in first year you live in halls, whereas most students choose to rent a shared house from second year onwards. The two living situations are very different, and both have merits, but you’re definitely left to fend for yourself more in a second-year house. You sort out your own contracts, bills and deal with your own landlord. Your university and/or student union will provide advice on finding a place to live and you should make use of any help they offer. Living in a house is a lot of fun: you get to live with your friends and experience independent living.
There’s also the fact that by second year, you’ve made some friends, figured out the best spots in the library and you know your way around campus. You’ve found your feet and that makes things so much easier. Although I’m not quite there yet (and I’ve got a whole placement year before I get there) I’ve already been warned about the challenges of third year. It is another big step up, but you’re ready for it.
I hope that’s given you a bit of an idea what it’s like as you progress through your time at uni. Ultimately, there’s really cool things about each year, and what you get out of it really depends on how much you put in.
Next month, I’ll be bringing you my final blog post of this academic year, and some pretty exciting news about what I’ll be getting up to next year too!