How to survive university (and actually succeed)

University is an extremely stressful time and not for the faint hearted. How you’re meant to survive on -3 hours of sleep and last night’s pizza for breakfast and STILL turn up for lectures is beyond me. But hopefully these tips will help you get through and ease the pain just a little bit.

1. Organise, organise, ORGANISE!!

Time management and organisation are the power couple of skills you need for uni. And no, this doesn’t mean turning up just in time for your seminar at 8:59am. It means actually getting a grip on organising yourself and your time so that when things get a bit too much, you know exactly where you’re meant to be.

To tackle this – buy a planner. I’m prone to being a little stresshead but investing in a planner was honestly the best thing I ever did. I got this one from Staples – a total Filofax dupe – and you can order all the inserts and customise it how you like. I also bought a shed load of stickers to decorate the inside and make it pretty.

Ok so planner bought – now actually use it. Write down everything you’re doing the second you get told, maybe different colours for different subjects, or uni/work related vs free time related. For example, I would write all my uni/work related events in blue and then all my free time activities in green e.g hairdressers, lunch with mum, googling Ryan Gosling, etc etc. This helps SO much and just having a spread of your whole week in front of you avoids confusion and stress.

2. You can never have enough books.

In uni you literally get out what you put in. The lecturers will drone on and on about this in all your introductory lectures but it’s so true. To succeed you really have to work hard and go beyond what the lecturers and seminars teach you. Part of this effort comes from reading. If you’re like me and you have to push yourself really hard to get a good mark but don’t want to feel like you’re actually doing anything – read. I got a selection of Psychology books (this was my course) that were fun, conversational, and not really boring like the usual textbooks. Hello to my face Getting Your Head Around the Brain! I learnt so much more from these books than I did just sat rereading the lecture slides.

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If you’re worried about the cost, ask for books for Christmas/your birthday. You’d be surprised at how enthusiastic your family will actually be about this. Also if you’ve completed a new module and have no need for the books, just sell them. I put a post on the uni fresher’s groups and managed to sell a couple of books for a nice £40 which solved who was buying the drinks in!

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This sounds like an obvious one but for a lot of people it’s actually not – when you’re so snowed under with everything else, you really can miss the positive services the uni advertise that can really help you. For example, it wasn’t until I was in my second year that I realised my uni actually offered a free counselling service – something I really wish I had taken advantage of. Now I’m in the big wide world, DAMN counselling/therapy is expensive. They also did lots of employability courses, careers sessions, internships, referencing lessons, the list goes on and on and on. Some of these services can be so useful and can really help you succeed and get ahead of the crowd. Don’t be afraid to pop down to the Finance office and ask for some advice with your savings, or knock on Careers and see if there’s any chance you can still get into teaching even though you’re half way through a Psychology degree you don’t enjoy (you can).

Sometimes you can get sucked into uni and the stress of it and you are not alone. Tutors get so many emails on the daily from panicked students so please, don’t be afraid!!

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4. Give yourself enough time for assignments.

No seriously, do. Lecturers will ALWAYS say this and you’ll laugh it off and think hey, course I can do this 5000 word essay in 2 days and still get a 2:1. But you can’t!! You really should strive for your best in uni. It is literally your last chance to prove yourself and others wrong by smashing those grade boundaries before you hit the big wide world. And anyway, who knows where you’ll be in 2 weeks time when it’s due. You might have three more assignments, two nights out planned, a birthday, a cheerleading social, you name it. Do you really want to be stuck under that much pressure trying to get something done that you could have started earlier?

My best advice to you is – get cracking the day you get given each task. Even if you spend one hour day for 2 weeks on it – better than nothing. I know it’s so easy to fall into the trap of coming home and napping straight away (which FYI you can still do), but make time to do little bits throughout the day and you’ll thank yourself for it. Me and my flatmates literally used to sit in front of the TV, watching crap MTV shows, drinking green tea with a laptop on our knee and a mountain of notes. But we got stuff done AND it was still fun. Kind of.

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5. Have fun!!!

Regardless of the assignments, essays, exams, HAVE FUN. Go on nights out and attend socials. There’s totally nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with 2 nights out a week if you’ve really worked hard on that essay. I used to go out every single week sometimes and still did well purely because I was focusing on point number 1 up there. University will be the best years of your life for most people so you want to make it a time to remember. Don’t waste days and nights cooped up in the library – you are allowed a break. Going out and being hungover and missing lectures are part of uni life and you definitely won’t be the only one. It’s all about balance and as long as you’ve got a good ratio of fun:work you can’t go wrong. Tipping the scale from one side or the other can send you crazy and really isn’t healthy, so make sure that for every day you spend working, you have another one planned. And remember my top 5 tips and you’re good to go (if I do say so myself).

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Have you got any other uni tips?

Thanks for reading! x

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