Are you feeling nervous about starting your degree (on the first day!) at your chosen college or university? Graduate vs Undergraduate: two different things but you could actually face the same few things! Your first day of university is, without a doubt, a character-building. It’s a nice challenge, right? And you’re taking it! Let me tell you—that is a great start. However, you DO always have the chance to make this be a good thing! Here are some tips and tricks to help you make it through the years:
Avoid tricky seminar questions
So you haven’t done the reading, but you can’t afford to miss another seminar during your undergraduate program. This situation calls for some serious blagging and deflection tactics!
First rule: don’t make eye contact. Pretend to be completely engrossed in your notes, perhaps even adding to them as you become more involved in the riveting discussion going on around you (even if you’re writing complete nonsense and haven’t a clue what’s going on).
Get actively involved in group work. Listen to what others are saying and try to form something to say out of what’s being discussed in these small groups (although, do NOT just copy what someone else in the group has said – unless you fancy making enemies in class!).
Then, when the class floor is open to discussion, try to speak out as early as possible (or when there’s a question you can confidently answer) to get it out of the way. If you keep quiet for too long, you might get lumped with a tough question near the end of class. The trick is to get in there first!
If you’re put on the spot and have no clue, we’re afraid the only option left is to get blagging. And next time… save yourself the hassle and just do the reading?
Learn how to speed read
If you have the balls to show up to your class without having done the reading, a quick speed read can help bring you up to date with what’s going on (not to mention how it can help for revision).
We wouldn’t suggest speed reading an entire novel (*cough* Wikipedia *cough*), but for articles and short chapters it’s certainly better than doing no reading at all.
Use a highlighter to bring out any important sections or quotes (or at least what you think seems important in the 10 minutes you’ve spent swatting up on the topic).
If at any point you get put on the spot, you can divert discussion towards one of the ‘interesting’ passages you highlighted when you read the article ‘thoroughly’ the night before.
Ask for help when you need it
This isn’t about graduate vs undergraduate anymore! This goes for all areas of your life since both of these degrees could experience the same thing. If you’re struggling to keep up with coursework in your undergraduate program (hence all the speed reading and blagging your way through tutorials), speak to your tutors. If you don’t speak up about this stuff, the situation will only get worse as more deadlines pile up.
Likewise, if you’re having financial stress, it’s really important for you to reach out and get some help.
Asking for some financial support from your parents can be a tough situation for some, but it’s also worth remembering that the government uses your parents’ income to calculate how much Maintenance Loan to give you.
Learn some basic cooking skills
It’s not that difficult to eat properly during your undergraduate program. You just have to spend a short amount of time working out the basics and mastering a few really simple meals, and you’ll be able to feed yourself and save a whole load of cash in the process.
Throwing some pasta and pesto together can make a meal that tides you over for dinner and lunch the next day – you don’t have to rely on microwave meals (because they usually taste like crap), or takeaways (because they’re expensive, although we have a few tips to get cheaper takeaways every now and again!).
Clean before it gets out of hand
Unfortunately cleaning does have to be done from time to time, otherwise your house will end up utterly vile and you’ll be ashamed to ever let anyone through the front door.
We’d suggest using a cleaning rota so everyone mucks in, but sometimes this won’t work and can cause arguments if you have any particularly lazy housemates. So, our advice would be to clean together.
Put some music on, have a laugh and promise each other a little pizza party once the mess is cleaned up (make sure you eat out of the box to prevent more mess, mind). This method is way more fun and gets the job done in half the time.
Deal with difficult housemates
If you find yourself living with someone who’s making things tricky, talk it out with them. Ignoring the situation will never result in it ‘sorting itself out’, and could result in a nasty passive-aggressive atmosphere.
Understandably, it can be harder to deal with problematic housemates if they also happen to be your friends. You don’t want to nag them or jeopardise your friendship, but not addressing the issue could just as likely lead to this.
If things get really out of hand, or you feel you can’t deal with it yourself, talk to your landlord. You don’t deserve to be unhappy in your own home.
Beware of people trying to rip off students
When it comes to things like dealing with landlords and paying bills, the sad fact is a lot of people will see what they can get away with if they think you’re an unsuspecting student.
Do your research so you know your rights and try your best to come across confident, even if you’re squirming inside. Remember, you’re no mug!
For a few wise words of guidance on how to hold your own at uni, make sure you know your rights as a tenant, learn how to haggle on your bills.
Remember, the decisions that you make and the actions you take during this first year of college will have a major impact on the rest of your college experience. So, make the most of it and I’m sure you’d make it better than you could have ever expected. Godspeed!