The university experience can be an enriching but challenging one, so the more you can prepare and set up a good study-life balance the better the overall experience will be. Unibuddy Ambassador and MSc Business Analytics student, Amanda Dickwella Vithanage, shares her top tips for new students and how to tackle new experiences that may be faced at university and beyond.
STARTING YOUR UNIVERSITY JOURNEY
When a new chapter begins, there is excitement, fear and an adventure awaiting. One for you to write completely anew and make your own. What should you expect? How are you to deal with the unknown? Why does everything feel so unfamiliar despite already experiencing something quite similar? These are lessons to be learnt and more will inevitably come your way at university. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but I think it would be wise to just embrace it and ride the waves. Soon it will feel fun and relaxing. You’ll get to chart your own course. I think that’s what makes it so exciting; you get to map it out into whatever you want it to be.
This might feel overwhelming so to ease your mind and help with the adjustment, here are my top five tips for to make your life easier:
#1 TIME MANAGEMENT
- Whether you prefer paper or digital, write everything down. And then assign time for each task and list them all out in terms of ordered priorities. At first, you may underestimate how much time you need to allocate but you will soon learn how to adjust accordingly.
- Google Calendar is your best friend, use it! There are so many apps to help with productivity, but I say keep it simple.
- Notion is brilliant for note keeping and organisation so I would highly recommend that you use it. There are a plethora of templates so you can make use of those when you first start, and it is a good way of making sure your work is backed up on a different platform.
- You can’t pour from an empty cup so even if you have to schedule rest and relaxation time, please, DO IT.
- Your health is the most important so make sure to eat well, drink plenty of water and take regular breaks.
- Whatever fuels you outside of learning, make time for it as there is a difference between rest time and restoring your batteries. They are not the same so I think it is wise to prioritise them separately.
#3 Ask Questions
- There are no stupid questions, but I do think there is difference between being genuinely unsure about something and needing clarification versus just filling time with superfluous words…
- There are some lecturers who actively ask do you have any questions or need clarification after each section of their teaching to make it easier for you to ask those question(s), so make use of it.
- When it comes to learning and the points you do not understand, make note and follow up either after class or via email if you do not want to ask during lecture.
- It is more than ok to be unsure but use your initiative and read the briefs, lecture notes and emails first because the answer is usually there.
- Ask your cohort.
- This is your educational experience, so it is up to you to define the outcome.
#4 Apply Early and Consistently
- If you have the privilege to be able to choose the career path you want, I implore you to not apply to just any company or role for the sake of it, apply to companies that best align with your interests and values as that will speak for itself in interviews. You will spend a large majority of your time in this role so make sure you enjoy most of what you end up doing.
- Rejection is inevitable but we learn more from our losses than we do from our wins so keep going and consistently apply. I truly believe you will get the right role as long as you put the effort in.
- UCL Explore will allow you to have access to most, if not all articles, journals and textbooks so you do not need to buy them (unless you prefer to do so).
- Sign up to UCL related information and make the most of the events that are organised for you as a UCL student.
There are workshops available such as CV reviews and interview preps so make the most of these important resources.
It is normal to put a lot of weight on the grade you receive but try to not work so hard that you lose sight of the enjoyment of learning, of meeting new people and figuring out what career path brings you the most joy. You can change your mind and you can do so often- staying curious is necessary and important! Be kind to yourself, you’ve got this!
Wishing you the best of luck for your year ahead.