Starting university is like starting a new life. When students leave home for university, they embark on a new journey, one that of self-reliance and self-discovery, which largely shapes up their outlook on life in the longer run.
Most students are not prepared for the challenges of university and end up being overwhelmed, which results in them taking extra time to adjust to their new life. That is fine, as long as you eventually get comfortable with university life, but a far better course of action would be to prepare yourself, mentally and emotionally, for any problem you may face at college and university level.
Here are a few issues you should be ready to deal with as a university student.
1. Adjustment to New Life
Whether you are a student experiencing the campus environment for the first time or going back to the campus life after spending the vacation at home, there will be a period of adjustment, more so in the first scenario.
The first year of university is always extra hard when it comes to adjustment to university life so you should be expecting to at least get a culture shock because of how different things would be compared to home or school. Additionally, it is important to not get in a frenzy over getting everything right. Give yourself some time, and expect to get a little bamboozled, but always stay confident that eventually you will come to love the university life.
Since it is the first time being away from home for most students, homesickness can strike very hard. However, thanks to the modern means of communication, most students feeling homesick can stay connected with their parents, family members and friends over the internet.
3. Pressure of Studies
Most students are paying their education expenses themselves so the pressure on them to get good grades is immense. Even if it is not them paying, there are still massive social and educational repercussions of not succeeding in the studies. Students should expect the studies to be much harder than before, and at the same time, should focus more on learning rather than getting a good GPA.
4. Cost of Education
Ever since the most recent increase in the cost of higher education in the UK, the number of students seeking professional counseling has significantly increased. Mental health issues are surfacing more than ever in students according to a survey by the National Students Union (NUS).
You should realize that the only way you can avoid mental anxiety and make the expenses worth is when you enjoy your time in the university, focus on your studies and keep a nice balance between the two.
5. Finding New Friends
It is difficult to make friends at a new place, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will have to fit in with people who have different interests in order to make new friends at university. You can be yourself and find friends at the same time, you just have to be patient and involve yourself in activities that you like.
6. Housing Problems
You may get a place in the hostel or dorm, but it is really difficult to find student accommodation that is right for you. You have to consider factors such as distance, rent rates, facilities, roommates etc. Students face housing problems all the time so if you can, have a place ready before you leave home. Student accommodation is a big issue in UK and you would do well to have a solution prepared.
7. Time Management
From trying to study to living alone and doing the required chores, to maintaining a social life, to possibly working some sort of a job to help with expenses, students don’t have the “time” to manage and think about their time. They sleep in irregular patterns and do everything at the last minute.
This kind of behavior is unsustainable and therefore, you need to at least set a rough timetable and start utilizing your time much more efficiently. You will be surprised at the amount of free time you’ll start to have on your hands.
By Hannah Carter – Having a nice and memorable university life is everyone’s right, so if you are facing any problems in regards to student residence and want to find student accommodation, visit our website http://padsforstudents.co.uk/.
Northern School of Contemporary Dance; Central St Martins College of Art and Design
Performing arts; scenography
I'm from Hackney and my mum was adamant that I should leave London for a few years and learn to be independent, so I was really excited to get a place at the Northern School, especially because only 50 people were accepted out of 2,000 applicants, so we all felt really special.
It wasn't the normal student lifestyle. We attended classes all day, five days a week, and because it's all about your personal training, you can't have a day off. Then I worked as a dancer one night a week and in a pub three nights a week, so I spent most of my student life exhausted. As dancers we didn't have that booze thing – we'd be up at 7am to go on the cross-trainer before class. I don't think I could have partied as well; I would have had a nervous breakdown.
We all lived in shared flats. Like most people, I was also totally incapable of looking after myself in the first year. I remember waking up one day with conjunctivitis and just lying in my bed shouting "I'm blind! I'm blind!" Eventually my flatmates came in and took me to hospital, thankfully.
I wasn't too worried about making friends – I just made friends with the other weirdos. I'm quite sociable, but I've always been attracted to outsiders. Russella the drag queen was on my course and we are still friends.
But I didn't have an amazing time on my course, if I'm honest. Academically, it wasn't what I was expecting. I found it quite restrictive and narcissistic because you spent all day in rooms full of mirrors focusing on your imperfections – I was prodded and poked a lot, but I didn't have much time to cultivate my mind or my own creativity.
I wanted to stop and do something else, but I felt I needed to prove to everyone that I could do it. I'm stubborn as hell. Which seems ridiculous now, but actually it taught me what I was capable of.
When I graduated, I knew I had to have another chance at education. Doing an MA at St Martins was the best thing. It opened my mind to so many things. The course was full of people from different disciplines who were all interested in performance, so I worked with actors, architects, directors and designers from all over the world, which was massively inspiring. It opened a world of books, theatre and film, and I got to spend the whole year thinking about the human condition, and came out feeling I had something to say.
Looking back on it, I don't know if I should have switched from dance or not. If you are unhappy on your course there are so many other amazing things you could do. But on the other hand I don't believe in giving up, and I do feel my dance degree taught me things as a performer. I feel really confident on stage, and I know what shapes my body is making – and all that comes from dance training.
Top tip: You need to give things time. My mum used to say you need to go on five dates with someone because you can't tell if you like them after one, and that's true about university.
Paloma Faith's new album, "Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?" is out now. She tours the UK in October and November.
Dr Christian Jessen
Doctor and presenter of Embarrassing Bodies
UCL 1996 – 2001
I was fairly terrified on my first day. We had an introductory lecture, which was about how we were going to have to work really hard – no pressure there – and then the older medical students played lots of tricks, including telling us we were going to have to drink urine.
I lived in halls right under BT tower (in London) in my first year, which meant I never got lost. I was in the same block as a group of guys who were in a band. We used to get really annoyed because they were always in the corridor playing their guitars. If only I had known they were going to go on to be Coldplay!
I really enjoyed my course, but I was very naughty – I didn't really go to lectures. In fact, I used to go days without going to lectures, partly because I got far more out of reading a book. I also did lots of non-medic things – I was in the UCL orchestra, and in lots of plays.
I think studying medicine is extra scary. It's such a big commitment, and you know deep down it'll be hard to leave if it's not what you want to do. And actually, what you are learning is often quite harrowing – as soon as you arrive, you are given your first body to cut up, and you start learning about how to tell patients they are dying.
Top tip: This is going to sound slightly nerdy – but then I am a doctor. There's an awful lot of pressure to drink loads and have lots of sex, but learning to say "no'" is a really important part of freshers' week.
Can I Just Ask? by Dr Christian Jessen (Hay House, £12.99) will be published on 1 November.
Sheffield, 2004 – 2007
I went to university in my home town so that I could continue my education without jeopardising my training. Athletics was my main priority, but I think my coach was anxious, knowing what students can be like! But my parents were really happy I had found a way to combine both.
Although I was staying in Sheffield, I still wanted to leave home. I decided that living in halls would be too much of a distraction, so I lived in a house with two friends from athletics. I think I probably had a very different freshers' week from most people – I didn't spend the whole week going out and getting drunk because I still had to get up to go training. But I had enjoyed myself quite a lot during sixth form, so in a way I felt I had already done that. And even though I wasn't going out every night it was really easy to meet people on my course, which was great.
I was probably a lot more organised and disciplined about my timetable than the average student, but the worst bit for me was doing presentations. I get nervous when I compete, but standing in front of a room of people to deliver a speech was much more daunting.
I really enjoyed psychology and in an ideal world it would have been nice to have had more time to concentrate on my studies as I definitely had to make sacrifices, missing lectures and deadlines to compete. But it was really nice to do something different and not be focused on sport the whole time. And when I had exams, I could break it up by going training.
Top tip: Get your hands on a map. Sheffield is my home city and I still got lost!
Jessica Ennis is world and European heptathlon champion and world indoor pentathlon champion
Cambridge 1988 - 1991
The most significant thing about freshers' week at Magdalene College in 1988 was the first year women were admitted to Magdalene College – it was the last of the colleges to go mixed. I had gone up a week early to do an audition, but it meant that for the first five days I was the only girl there. I had a regular stream of people knocking on the door announcing that they had "come to see the Magdalene girl"!
I didn't know that economics would be so maths-based – I was shocked at how many lecturers talked in graphs instead of sentences. But I did really enjoy my degree. I found the self-discipline challenging (you don't go to lectures … and then realise at exam time that they might have been quite useful) and the vast reading lists, but I quickly learned to just read the things I needed.
I didn't meet all my closest friends immediately. I threw myself into probably far too much, hence the 2.2. I got involved in committees and the Light Entertainment Society, and did college singing and loads of sport. I didn't shine at anything, but I had a go at everything.
Top tip: Make sure your biscuit tin is full – when you do meet yvour new best friends or dream man you can say: "Come back to my room for coffee – I have biscuits!"
Katie Derham will be presenting live from the Proms for BBC2 and Radio3
Lead singer, Melodica, Melody and Me
Leeds, 2006 – 2009
Philosophy and the history of philosophy of science, 2.1
I arrived at my halls quite late on the first day, so it was very manic, with everyone clearly very nervous and lots of people already chummy with each other. You have the same conversation over and over again, saying where you are from and what subject you are doing.
My brother's advice was "Go to whatever is happening and you'll meet other people who don't like it, too". So on my first night I went to a club night called I Love Sex. When I got there, I found I was the only one standing in the corner not enjoying it. It took me a good few months to find people I liked. With hindsight, if I'd joined societies, I'd have found like-minded people much quicker.
Music was a big part of my time. We started the band at school, but all went to different universities, so we got to perform in lots of different cities.
The best bits were the things you can't plan for. In my second year, I lived in a big house with a ceilidh band – we put on open mikes and I learned a lot about traditional folk music and Irish jigs. I started getting involved in campaigns, and I ran an allotment with a friend as part of Leeds Students Green Action.
Top tip: The advice my brother gave me was good – keep with it, and you will meet people you like.
Melodica, Melody and Me's debut single, 'Piece Me Back Together', is out now
Cambridge, 1998-2001, English, First
Virtually every impression I had in freshers' week was negative. I had no confidence whatsoever that I was going to be all right. I thought I would meet people like me at university, but the people I met weren't anything like me. It was only later that I realised the people like me were in their rooms brooding – no wonder I couldn't find them.
At the freshers' fair I signed up for loads of things (as I was writing my name I'd catch myself thinking "I won't want to do that"). I turned up to the German Society hoping to practise my German. It was awkward explaining in German that I wasn't actually German. After two pints and an hour of being spoken to by kind Germans, I left. Though I never had the courage to unsubscribe from the emails.
The other thing about freshers' week is the way it exposes your lack of personal competence. I turned up to my first supervision covered in blood, as if I had come direct from the battlefield. In fact, I had had a nosebleed on the way, I didn't have any tissues and had no idea where the nearest shop was. At the time I thought I was going to have to leave the city, but in fact it was something we ended up laughing about.
Eventually I made friends, got up the courage to audition for Footlights and started to enjoy my degree. But freshers' week was really odd – my advice is to disregard nearly everything that happens.
Top tip: A note on toasted sandwich-makers: leave that sandwich to cool before you eat it. And do clean the toaster or you'll have to buy a new one at the end of the year.
Mark will be on tour throughout the UK from October; www.markwatsonthecomedian.com
University of East Anglia 1995 – 98
I was obsessed with insects, so the degree was a real passion. The one incident that sticks in my mind was a really strict professor who hated anyone eating in his lectures. I was munching a pork pie when he came in. I panicked and stuffed the pie into the top of the projector. Two minutes later, the projector went on and there was this huge pork pie on the screen.
My family lived in Essex and I wanted to continue working in the wildlife park I had worked for since I was 13, so I lived half at home and half at UEA.
Top tip: Make a budget. When I did my PhD I lived with a French guy and we would always go to the market and cook from scratch. We baked our own bread and it saved us a fortune.
Jimmy will be hosting the festival Jimmy's Harvest at his farm on 11-12 September; www.harvestatjimmys.com
MP for Houghton and Sunderland South
One of the first things I learned at Oxford was that if you missed dinner in Hall you were pretty much snookered – though you could always use the toaster in the common room. In the first month, I came back late one night and burnt my toast, setting off the smoke alarm and getting everyone out of bed.
I joined the Oxford Labour Club in the first week.I really enjoyed meeting people from a broad range of backgrounds – including from the Conservative Association. That really helped me to hone my arguments. There are definitely similarities between freshers' week and your first week as an MP – not least that everyone asks your name, your constituency and your majority. I should probably ask what A-levels everyone got!
Top tip: Get on and join things. I played women's rugby for two years – it wasn't a massive commitment, but it was good fun and I met people from other colleges.