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Freshers Week - Tips and Advice
Member Name: kenigma
Freshers Week - Tips and Advice
Date: 13/03/01, updated on 13/03/01 (266 review reads)
Advantages: Great fun
Disadvantages: lots of work
And no this review is not all about how to make the best funnel to drink beer through, or the best drinking games, although I might mention some. Basically, I'm half way through my university career at the moment and I thought I'd share with you some of my pearls of wisdom right from GCSEs onwards.
I hate to put pressure on you people choosing your GCSEs... I know university seems like a lifetime away, but the problem is a lot of people rule themselves out of a career option early by not doing the right GCSEs. Take for example a friend of mine from school who having got to A-levels decided he wanted to do a medicine-related job. He hadn't taken biology GCSE and so had to take it while in his A-level year at the same time as his A-levels. So think long and hard one day about all the things you might want to do when you're out of university, and choose those GCSEs carefully.
Now - to A-levels... every student's worst nightmare. First of all you have to choose three or four subjects which you're going to study in depth and up close. You should choose them on the basis of what you enjoy, and also what you'll need for your chosen career path. If you haven't decided yet, then choose A-levels you think will be useful whatever field you go into.
I know a lot of people who tell students to choose the subjects the like the most, but I'm beginning to feel that isn't the best advice. Although you may like the subject, it may be of no use at all in your future. People always say schooldays should be the best time of your life, but you've got to balance that with the fact you're going to have to live with the decisions you've made for the rest of your life.
OK - on to the sixth form and you're doing your A-levels. Finally the dreaded day comes where you're forced to fill in your UCAS form and choose a course and university.
Please... I can't stress ENOUGH, that you sh
ouldn't just choose a university on the basis of whether your girlfriend/boyfriend/best mates are going there. This is probably the worst thing you can do. Choose the university with the course that is best suited to you. Choose the best university you can get into. You're going to make lots of new friends if you go to a university with few or none of your friends from home, and then you'll have twice as many friends. If you stick in a bunch of friends from home you're not going to enjoy university life as much - Britain's universities are the most culturally and socially diverse of many countries because people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to get in. Make the most of it and branch out.
A-level results roll around and hopefully you've got the grades you want.
At this point I'll mention gap years, because for me, it was only after I'd got my results that I decided I wanted to defer a year and take a year off. Equally you can decide this before you fill in the UCAS form, but bear in mind that whatever universities may say, they CAN be put off by this.
Gap years - I didn't really do that much on mine. I travelled around Canada, and I did a bit of music journalism at home in the UK, but you could make much more use of it than that. DON'T go and be badgered into taking a gap year in Mozambique teaching English to children, or picking grapes in France, or anything like that unless you actually want to. Great - CV material but you'll have spent months hating it. Another thing - so far I've never had anyone ask me why I didn't do much in my gap year. It's not going to help you that much to say you did ploughing in deepest Africa if you can't show a genuine enthusiasm and interest in what you did. Employers and universities are after genuine people, not CV-fillers.
University - you'll have to find somewhere to live. Most people opt for living in halls in their
first year - it's an easy introduction into university - you're unlikely to starve unless it's self catered and you blow your entire year's living expenses on beer in the first week.
Halls can be good, but the problem I found with them is it was too clinical. Everyone had their own room and that was it. There were a few communal areas, but it didn't feel like home... Still, it's a good start. You'll meet people from other courses, even other universities if it's an intercollegiate hall, and you may find people to share a flat or house with the next year.
If you end up in a flat or house, then make sure you've got a responsible person to handle bills, rent, and kick everyone out of bed on Saturday morning to go shopping.
MAKE SURE YOU BUDGET. Everyone goes a bit wild in Freshers Week/Fortnight, and ends up paying for it for the rest of the term. It's all too easy to stop by Pizza Hut one day and blow the next two days food budget on a pizza. Allow for this and you'll be fine. Bear in mind you'll also want to buy magazines/cds/games etc. I can't suggest a sure-fire way of sorting your finances because I'm appalling at it myself - just find a system that works for you.
Do some work - everyone tells you this, no-one pays any attention. I did virtually nothing during my first year and had to swot up at the end. I got through, but I don't want to have to do that again. It's way too stressful. Going to lectures also helps - it's amazing how much you can miss in a single lecture...
OK...I think that's all I can think of for the moment - any additions, comments, death threats - please post them in a comment.