After a long summer, getting back into the routine of university life can be tough. The summer days are long gone and the excitement of Freshers week is over. The thought of a week of classes can be a shock.
As a second year, I’m used to the routine of university and I know what to expect. In first year it can take a few weeks to adjust. Finding new classes, adjusting to the new learning style of university, living in a new city and meeting new people is an experience quite unlike anything else. Don’t worry if it all seems overwhelming at first.
After the excitement of the past few weeks, it is easy to forget that you have to get back to studying soon. Staying organised from day 1 may seem difficult but, you will thank yourself during exam time when you haven’t got incomplete notes which make no sense. You will also feel less stressed which is always a bonus.
Here are some quick tips for staying organised and getting the semester off to a good start.
- Use a planner
I couldn’t live without a planner at university. Every Sunday, I write down my timetable for the week and have a quick overview of the tasks I have to complete. Last year I used a desk planner. Having this on display all the time saved me from having to flick through pages to find what I wanted to. However, I disliked not being able to see dates in advance and what I had planned. This year, I am using a planner with a week by week view. I use my desk planner as a quick to-do list. There are so many different types of planners out there to suit different people. In terms of staying organised, a planner is essential. At university nobody is reminding you about deadlines, it’s up to you.
2. Use free-time in-between lectures carefully
When you have a gap in-between lectures it can be tempting to go home and watch another episode on Netflix. I am definitely guilty of doing this last year. This year I have started going to the library if I have a break in-between. Finishing up lecture notes as they are fresh in your mind, makes for effective and complete notes. It also means that you have access to all the resources. If you find that you need a book or to print something out, then it is easy to do so. Seeing other students studying around you can motivate you to do more work. But best of all, it means that you can chill out when you go home at the end of the day.
3. Experiment with different note-taking methods and ways of learning
Studying at university is completely different from school. I found that I had to adopt new learning styles and ways of doing things. During my first year, I experimented with this a lot. You may like writing notes up on paper or on a laptop or tablet. You can make your own note-taking method or there are many out there such as the Cornell method. It may be useful to research and try out these techniques. Personally, I like to write up some notes during the lecture. Afterwards, I write my notes up on my laptop and do the reading if necessary.
In terms of my own experience of the first week, it has gone really well. I always find the first week to be very different from others. There are a few introductory lectures focusing on what the modules are about. For my course, tutorials and workshops usually don’t start until the second week meaning that there are fewer contact hours. Thankfully, I don’t have any close deadlines yet. The week allows you to adjust to the new routine again. I have used this time to get familiar with my new modules alongside doing regular notes for lectures. Also, it’s a great time to try out some new activities and societies. This week I have started going to the gym and have tried out yoga through the yoga society. Other societies I’m interested in have plans for the new few weeks. A lot of societies and sports clubs offer free taster sessions or meet-ups during the first week. I’d advise you to go to as many of these as possible. We are fortunate to have over 100 societies, so there should be something for everyone. They are a fantastic way to meet new people and try things you would have never thought of doing before. One thing I regret from my first year is that I did not participate in as many activities as I would have liked to. Trying out a new activity or meeting new people can be nerve-wracking, however it is likely that you will meet amazing people and have a great time. If it turns out that it is not for you, then at least you know that you have tried it. The academic side of university is important, however establishing a balance through activities and social events is just as important.