5 years of studying at the University of Aberdeen and my recent graduation have mounted up to countless life lessons learned but I’ve narrowed it down to my top ten.
1. Good things come to those who put themselves out there.
Be open to new opportunities – you never know where they will take you. With societies/clubs it’s so much easier if you do this at the beginning of the semester when loads of other people are new and feeling just as awkward as you are!
2. First and second year may not count towards your degree but make them count.
Use this time to get comfortable with the university experience and try out the opportunities presented to you.
This might mean going out multiple times a week with your new friends, taking a risk with a subject you’re interested in but have never studied before (I did this and changed my degree at the end of first year to include Hispanic Studies!), or trying out various ways of studying and revising (Are you a mind-mapper? Do you prefer study groups or working alone?).
It’s worth paying attention to your compulsory courses because chances are you will draw on this foundation knowledge in the later years of your degree.
3.Follow your interests.
My mum has always said that if you keep doing things you enjoy (jobs, hobbies, volunteering, etc.), you will end up having a career that you love.
So far, it has worked for me. In the last year I have been interviewed for two jobs that I was so excited about and the interviews have been much easier than I expected because my work experiences and hobbies accurately represent the type of job I might want (and be interviewed for) in the future.
4. Study snacks don’t work for me.
This is more of a note to self. You’re probably a stronger person than me here but I can’t get anything done with food around. All I can do is think about the snacks until I’ve eaten them all. Eating a whole bag of strawberry fizzy laces in an hour only leads to a burning tongue and no work completed.
5. When you are super busy, schedule in time for yourself.
Some people have no problem with this but others, like me, are prone to packing so much in that they risk burning out. Make time for yourself a priority, even if that just means spending every Monday evening watching Netflix and painting your nails. You’ll be more productive the next day.
6. Use your summer wisely.
3 months of doing nothing sounds great when you’re weighed down by uni work but, once the summer comes, that will soon get boring. If you’re lucky enough to not have to work during your summer, how about volunteering or doing some light work abroad in exchange for food and accommodation?
As the number of young people accepted into university continues to rise, the more experience you have on top of your studies, the better.
7. If you want to make the most of the academic experience, read widely.
You are unlikely to ever again have such free access to so many academic texts so read and download them while you can!
Lecturers often like if you draw, not only from the compulsory texts, but also from the ‘recommended reading’ in your course guide. Seems like a lot of work but the more you read, the easier it will be to remember the key facts/viewpoints.
8. On the other hand… If you only go to one lecture of your class, go to the revision lecture.
Not that I am advocating only going to one lecture. But, it happens. Seems like common sense to go to the revision lecture/tutorial but these are often not compulsory so people skip it to continue revising on their own time. However, these tutorials are usually led by the person who is literally writing and correcting your exam. They know what they want from you so make the most of their tips!
9. Be kind – many people around you are struggling.
1 in 4 university students reported suffering with mental health problems in 2016, particularly depression and anxiety and doubtless many (if not all) others have encountered some sort of adversity while studying. If this isn’t you, be mindful of the others around you. If this is you, you’re not alone.
10. The University continues to support you after you graduate.
I graduated with a degree I was proud of and some amazing memories from University. However, as graduation loomed, I was terrified. I’ve been in education for 18 years… What now? Was it all worth it?! *insert exhausted and exasperated crying in front of parents*
But worry not! (Or… worry less!) The safety net from Uni doesn’t fall away as soon as you graduate.
- As a graduate, you can still access support from the Careers Service.
- Check out Aberdeen Alumni Relations to keep up with the rest of the Aberdeen family.