Summer is coming to an end and in the UK, pupils and students are getting ready to return to school. Which seems particularly unfair since the weather has finally decided to be warm again. There is a joke that it is always incredibly warm right up until school breaks for the summer. Well, it did exactly that, and now as children and teenagers buy their new school uniforms and books and get ready to return to another year of learning, the sun has emerged again.
But what about those students who won’t be returning to school? Those who in July bid farewell to the world of uniforms and calling their teachers ‘Miss’ and ‘Sir’ for a new kind of adult freedom? Well some of them are heading into the workforce, while others, having received their A level results last week will be preparing to head into the world of university.
The 18-year-olds have already chosen their field of study and are gearing themselves up to spend the next three to four years on a set course. Whether it will be engineering, history or fine art the next few years are planned out.
Yet despite this seemingly fixed structure, nothing seems to be set or permanent in your university years. The first year alone comes with its challenges and changes.
It is estimated that after the first year of university, one-third of students change their major or their entire course to another field of study. I know that I changed not only my course but my entire university. But I suppose that is what happens when you have to make important life decisions at the age of 17.
But what advice can we give to first-year students, ready and eager to start university but completely unaware of what they are getting themselves into? The 7Dnews team asked students from Imperial College London for advice, and they all had a similar thing to say.
Enjoy your first year. That was the sentiment expressed. Your last year of A levels is intense hard work, so is most of your time at university but according to the students interviewed, the first year is the easiest, and easier than A levels, so make the most of it.
Involve yourself in student culture and try to have some fun. But also work hard and come prepared. Oxford University has created a guide for its freshmen (and women), detailing everything they need to know from the accommodation, to reading lists, to what their first week will probably look like. The average costs for a first-year student are also outlined and enough to fill you with a slight feeling of shock.
Oxford students studying at New College can expect to spend £2,360 a term while studying at Oxford, though, that number has been calculated to include nights out and social club membership. But if there is one piece of advice, we can extract from this data it is that it is important to have and to live on a budget.
However, don’t just spend the first year enjoying yourself. Advice from those who have already graduated also suggest that the first year is the year to start establishing strong study habits. Throw yourself into the world of academia and join clubs related to your field of study. Make friends you can study with, and my own piece of personal advice, make friends who are smarter than you are. I cannot stress this enough; it also helps if they are a year ahead of you in their degree.
Why? Well, they have already taken all the classes you have to take and can give you the inside scoop on the professors, the assignments and just how hard you are going to have to work to do well, and they can even read your assignments before you submit them.
But to all those about to start university for the first time, enjoy! Student life is hard, but you will miss it when you enter the workforce.