When I was at university, the majority of my friendship group was made up of people from my first year halls. At times this was great, but it could become claustrophobic and repetitive. New people means different types of interactions and different conversations.
Of course, the main way to branch out is to join societies and sports teams. I made the mistake of joining too many, but not committing to any. If you can find one or two hobbies you really enjoy, then you’re more likely to stick with it. As a result, it becomes easier to forge meaningful and long term friendships. You can also consider getting a Saturday job or volunteering. Particularly if you’re in your first year and your halls of residence are on campus. This can be a great way to get out of the uni bubble and interact with people from all walks of life.
Make the most of uni staff
I would often avoid talking to academics if I bumped into them on the corridor like the plague. But, remember that these people are bursting with knowledge. Academics are often just waiting for someone to come along and pick their brains apart. A lot of us are on autopilot mode when at university. We get consumed with the thought of grades and reading lists. However, making valuable relationships with professors will not only come in useful for a future job reference, but it will also broaden your horizons and expand your knowledge beyond the seminar readings.
As well as professors, don’t forget about your career services. All too often, they go unnoticed on your university journey. That is, until you’re in your last few weeks of final year and panicking about what you want to do with your life. If there’s one thing I wish I’d done more than anything, it’s to have gone and sought out regular advice from career advisors. It might be that you meet each week with a different career path you want to take. But at least you can explore these ideas together. We live in a world where there is so much choice that it can become overwhelming to say the least. So seek out help, two heads are always better than one! Careers services can help with anything from CV and interview preparation, to pointing you in the direction of different recruitment fairs and job industry talks.
Don’t waste your summers
I did very little with my summers at university apart from wallow in self-pity that I’d been forced to return home. If you don’t have a job back at home, then you’re in the lucky position of getting some of the longest holidays you will experience in your life. Make the most of these endless weeks. Why not go travelling or do a volunteering project abroad? You could also try and secure an internship or some work experience. It was only after university that I realised many internships are not available to you as a graduate. Use your sacred student status to acquire some experience and enhance your CV. If you’re lucky enough to secure an internship, it may also provide you with a valuable head start when working out a career path.
Explore your university city
It was only when I recently returned to my university city, that I realised how much of it had remained unchartered territory during my time there. Me, and many others, were guilty of sticking to the same set of club nights, bars and hang out spots. Even if it’s just once a week, try and explore somewhere new. There is so much more to a city than meets the eye.
Enjoy the present moment
Amidst the stress of dissertations and exams, it can be easy to forget just how unique a moment this is in your life. It’s only now university has finished, that I can fully appreciate how special a time it was. You’re somewhere with friends on your doorstep, and living an existence that is solely devoted to enhancing your knowledge. You’ll be surprised at how difficult it can be to sit down and find time to do simple things like reading a book once you’re in a full time job. As well as this, making plans to see friends who are now sprawled across the map becomes much harder. University is such a small pocket of our lives, so enjoy your time, and even when it’s difficult, know that it’s not forever.
Strike a balance
If there is one piece of final advice I can give you, it’s to try and strike a balance at university. It can be all too easy to become so consumed in university life that you forget to think about anything beyond it. Likewise, it’s just as easy to become so obsessed with the thought of your future that you forget to enjoy university for what it is. For this reason, take the middle ground. Have an awareness of your future whilst at university, but try not to let it overrule you.
A final word
£27,000 is an incredibly large amount to pay, and we all know that education alone is not worth this amount. But, what university does do, is bring us into close proximity to students, academics, and other members of society. Without university, we simply wouldn’t have come to know these people. With all this said, embrace your time at university. Put yourself out there and speak to as many people as you can. Soak up as much knowledge as you can and use the university staff- they are there to help you. Most importantly, stay present. By doing this, you can truly value the special memories you are making. Three years will fly by, so get the most out of it whilst you still can.