25 September 2023

Why Your First Year At University Matters

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‘First year doesn’t matter,’ they’ll say. ‘All you need is a pass’. Hmm, not quite.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your first year doesn’t count. That it’s all fun and games. And yes, while it’s important to settle in and make friends, it’s important to take your studies seriously too. You don’t want the shock of your life when second year comes around.

Read on to discover why it’s crucial you get your first year right.

1) Developing skills

The jump from A-Levels to university is huge. Empire State Building huge. You’ve moved out, meeting new people, juggling your finances and getting into a study routine. These definitely need adjusting. 

First year lets you do that. It lets you meet your professors, understand lectures and seminars, and develop key essay writing and critical thinking skills that’ll help you out in the long run. 

It’s the gift of time. So make the most of it!

2) Familiarising yourself with exams

Exams are a part of life. You’ll sit lots of them at university. So the more you prepare and familiarise yourself with them, the better you’ll feel when the big day arrives.

Practice some past papers. You can find these at your university library or online. Your professors should have some copies too. Try doing them under timed conditions. 

First year is all about trial and error. So use it to your advantage…

  • Figure out your approach to questions 
  • Will you read the entire question paper first before starting?
  • How long do you need to spend on each question? 

Always best to know these answers sooner rather than later. Trust us.

Learn how to revise effectively for your university exams.

3) Mastering the revision technique

To ace those exams, you’ll need a good revision technique. Not just good. But brilliant. 

One thing your first year will teach you is which modules you’re good at and which need a bit more work. When you’re putting together your revision timetable, make sure to factor this in. Plan your schedule around the topics you’re struggling with, and start the day with those.

The more you invest in your first year, the better you’ll know yourself, your strengths and interests. That way, you’ll realise if a particular module simply isn’t for you and won’t explore it further come second year. Not only does it save you time, but a fair bit of head space too.

Feeling the crunch of revision? Here are 5 fun games to help you boss your exams.

4) Staying on top of workload

Tempting as it is to non-stop party, a work-life balance is key to smashing your first year. At university, you’ll have a lot less contact hours than at school. And lots more time for independent study. This is gold. Don’t waste it as it’ll bite you later on!

When you get an assignment, jump onto it quickly. This will take the pressure off down the line when multiple deadlines come rolling in. Also, it’ll help you seek clarity from your tutors if there’s something you don’t understand.

5) Building friendships

Socialising is part of uni life. The friends you make may become friends for life. So try to meet as many people as you can. Staying in halls? Befriend your hallmates! They’re the first people you’ll likely meet. Why not leave your door open and introduce yourself as they pass by?

You’ll come across tons more people during freshers. And when you start your course. Say hello and join some group outings. You might make a bestie or two and end up sharing a house with them in second year. The opportunities are endless if you’re willing to grab them.

Read our tips on how to make friends at university.

6) Joining a society

Imagine we told you that joining a society at university would boost your employability. It’s true. Being part of a society shows employers you’re well-rounded and have interests outside of your everyday studies.

Depending on the type of society you join, it shows your breadth of skills too.

Say you apply for a managerial position down the line. If you can demonstrate that you were president of the debate society, chairing weekly meetings, recruiters will love it. It shows your leadership and time management skills – which are vital in today’s job market.

7) Managing your finances

For lots of you, this will be your first time living away from home. Getting a student loan is exciting. But if you’re not careful, you could run your bank balance into the red zone. 

Budgeting and keeping tabs on how much you spend will let your money go a lot further. So you can do things you actually want to do. As a student, you’ll be able to take advantage of discounts too – like the 16-25 railcard which gives you a third off train travel!

Heading into first year? Here are 13 money saving hacks you won’t want to miss.

8) Preparing for a placement or internship

If you’re planning on doing a placement or internship, here’s a few things you can do to get your CV into shape and a ton of employers knocking on your door. (Not literally, promise).

  • Take a free online course to improve your hard skills
  • Build a portfolio to show all your artistic work (great for writers and creatives)
  • Research industries to help you find your dream role
  • Become a paid brand ambassador and develop your networking skills
  • Do some volunteering in your local community  

The more you put into your first year, the more you’ll get out.

So don’t let anything hold you back. Find out how to boost your employability.

There you have it. Eight reasons why your first year at university counts. Wishing you all the luck as you head out on this whirlwind adventure that’s set to be the best one yet. Enjoy!