The first rule about starting college is: calm down.
The second rule about starting college is: seriously, calm down.
In my fourth and final year of university (or college, for all of you U.S. readers), I’ve discovered how important it is to just relax and do what you really want to do, regardless of other people’s opinions. University usually involves living away from home and meeting hundreds of new people. It can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you attempt to be friends with everyone or try to take part in every club available.
Aside from the joking around earlier, I’ve compiled a little list of essential pieces of advice. I hope these will make the crazy, riotous, and stressful experience that is university just that little bit easier:
When everything appears to be going wrong and the deadlines are building up, you need to focus on what’s really important. If you need to Skype your Mum, do it. There’s no shame in reaching out to your home support network. Also remember to look after your emotional wellbeing; too many people burn out at university by not prioritizing their health. So sit back, relax, and hug a puppy.
2. Get organized
If you aren’t already, university will be a nightmare. Buy a planner. Write everything in it. There’s no point in buying a planner if you’re not going to write down homework and to-do lists to consult regularly. If you need post-its around your room/house, make them. Staying organized can be quite difficult, so you really need to push yourself to become organized at the beginning or it’ll catch up with you later in the semester (and you’ll probably end up like this).
Most university students live on a pretty strict budget, but there are so many tempting things to do it can be pretty hard. Make a budget for food, a budget for activities, and then treat yourself every now and then. If you’re constantly breaking your budget, consider talking to your university student’s advice service as they usually have great money-management tips.
4. Choose activities wisely
It’s so tempting to sign up for every sport/organization, but really think about what you should join. If you want to try rowing, but you get cold easily and the idea of getting up early makes you want to cry (I made this mistake!), then maybe it isn’t for you. Try to get all the information about a certain club before you make the commitment to join. And don’t just join because all of your friends are—you can make new friends doing an activity that really suits you!
5. Choose friends wisely
University brings you into contact with a vast array of people, and it’s so easy to just jump at the chance of being friends with the first people you meet. You may have to live with these people and go through life-changing experiences with them, so it’s worth making the decision to spend time with people you actually like. By choosing the right group of friends, you’ll be able to make the best decisions for yourself. They’ll even support you in the most difficult times—it may not seem as cool, but a housemate who makes you hot chocolate and snuggles under a blanket with you when you’re extremely stressed is a clear winner over someone who just encourages you to get blind drunk every night.
University can be some of the best years of your life, but don’t panic if it doesn’t feel like that. University is what you make it, and it’s important to surround yourself with good people, try out new hobbies that suit you, and learn more about subjects that stimulate you.