Here comes the continuation of this post, on the first 15 things no one ever tells you about university. Enjoy part 2 of the series and don’t forget to let us know about your time at uni and the things nobody ever told you about university in the comments down below!
So, Here’s 15 Things Nobody Ever Tells You About University – Part 2:
1. Being a student is your job
For whicher long it takes to get your degree, being a student is your job. So try to do it well. That doesn’t mean sitting in the library for 8 hours straight, but rather engaging with everything that university has to offer – which is more than degrees and exams. Things you could do: join initiatives, clubs, societies, engage in discussions with your professors, go out, use your free time to explore your personal interest, do internships, secure a part-time job. Whatever you choose, don’t forget to do some research so you won’t miss out on this amazing time.
2. One week of exam preparation is likely not enough
Online and especially on Youtube, there are so many self-proclaimed university gurus telling others how to prepare for an exam in one week and still ace it. While you can prepare in one week, it’s very likely that this will not get you the results you want. What the gurus also don’t tell you is that preparation for one exam can benefit you for another. So while it is tough to juggle multiple exams and term papers in a short amount of time, there are a few things you can do: plan ahead, start earlier than the official exam period, and don’t leave everything until the last week.
3. Think about what you want to do in your master’s because classes you take in your bachelor’s can impact your choice of postgraduate programmes
This especially applies if you already have a concrete idea about which career path you strive for. Many master’s programmes (especially in Germany) require a certain amount of ects for you to be admitted. If you do not meet the requirements you won’t get in -even if it’s just by 1 point and even if it’s basically the same subject as in your undergraduate. So if you know which master’s you want to do, check the requirements in advance so you can choose your undergraduate courses accordingly.
4. If you cannot find exactly the subject you want to study in your home country, you can always look abroad
Though there are many universities in every country, it could still be that there’s not the right uni subject or mix of courses for you in your home country. Never forget that there is always the possibility to study abroad. It will require more organisational effort, but it’s definitely worth looking into this option. Some good sources for initial research are: Bachelorsportal, Keystone Bachelorstudies, Mastersportal and Findamasters.
5. The people you meet in the first two weeks, will be some of the ones you’ll spend your entire uni life with
In the first part of this post, I said that you shouldn’t get attached to all the people you meet in your first week at uni – which is true. However, a few of the people you meet in your first week, which is usually the welcome or fresher’s week, will be some of the one’s you’ll see around all throughout your time at uni. Some will become your friends, some will remain acquaintances, either way, it’s always nice to see some familiar faces.
6. Some people at uni are 17 some are 30
Unilife is composed of a wild mix of different people. It could very well be that someone in your class is 17 while someone else is 70+. Seeing people way older than the average student can be a surprise at first. However it’s quite common that retirees use their free time to enroll as guest students or even pursue another degree. Be open for a lot of new input!
7. There are a lot of people with different backgrounds and different personal challenges – something you might have not had any experience with before
University is a place where many different people come together. Naturally, you will get in touch with students who come from a very different background than you. That could relate to nationality, religion, sexual orientation, but also to personal challenges such as mental health struggles – something you might have not experienced before. It’s important to stay open minded, but look out for your own physical and psychological health at the same time.
8. Student services offer psychological support and you’ll be able to get an appointment confidentially and quickly
Directly related to the point above, it could also be that you are experiencing difficulties with things such as transitioning to uni and living a more independent lifestyle or coping with exam stress. Universities generally offer confidential psychological support services. This might often be a timely and easily accessible option if you experience difficulties. They have regular office hours and open doors you can go to and some even offer a night line service. Check the university website to find more information.
9. Mensa food is often not healthy
The Mensa – a place to be. There’s food, there’s people, there’s coffee. While eating in the mensa is a very convenient and viable option, you should be aware that low prices for food likely come at a cost. Of course the healthiness of your meal, depends on your particular choice. However generally, what is served is often highly processed food which is not really that healthy. Moreover, concern for animal welfare could be questioned as well regarding the very low prices for non-vegetarian meals. Maybe try to consider a balance between mensa and home-cooked meals – which are often cheaper in the long run anyway 😉
10. When at the library – don’t drink too much coffee
Exam season arrives and coffee is calling – a sound well known to most students. While that large cappuccino can give you the boost you need to power through another 4 hours of studying, don’t forget there is a recommended limit for the daily caffeine intake. Too much coffee can actually be counterproductive, so try to keep that inner coffee-demons in check 🙂
11. When at the library – don’t have too many coffee breaks
When studying, you should definitely take regular breaks. However if you’re at the library with friends, it can be very easy for coffee breaks to exceed studying time. While it is good to recharge and meet with friends during such stressful times, make sure to set yourself a fixed time limit. You can even use the timer on your phone for this. P. ex. from the time you arrive at the coffee shop, allow yourself a 30 min break and go back to your desk when the bell rings.
12. Don’t compare your style of studying to others, some do more some do less than they will let you know
When discussing uni work with other students, it can be easy to slip into comparison mode. That’s when you compare your grades, workload, time spent studying to others. This habit is neither good nor productive. Everyone is different and everyone will take their own time to go through the material. All that comparing does is distract you – especially because you can never really be sure if others are really telling the truth. Some are doing way less, some way more than what they tell you, so just stay focused on yourself.
13. You don’t have to read all books, texts, and journal articles
Especially when starting out in your first semester, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the reading material that is provided. For some subjects there can be several recommended texts and papers a week! Pro tip: introductions and conclusions are your best friend! Skim the texts and try to decide if they are directly relevant to your needs. If yes – look for keywords and authors and check the rest of the text, if not – onto the next one!
14. There are many conceited students
First of all: don’t be that student. Secondly, there really are students who are conceited because they study a certain subject that they believe to be superior compared to others. Don’t let yourself be derailed by those people. Every subject is relevant and every student experience is valid.
15. You don’t have to finish in regular time
Doing a bachelor’s degree usually takes 3, sometimes 4 years if you finish in regular time. However, this time frame does not neccesarily account for exchange semesters, breaks taken for personal reasons, semesters spent working, subject changes, and many other unforeseen circumstances that might occur during your time at uni. There’s often more flexibility to studying than what it might seem from the outside. If you need guidance, contact university support services to discuss your options.
There you have it, 15 things no one ever tells you about university – Part 2 . Of course, not everything will apply to you, your chosen uni, your subject and your personal experience, but it hopefully you can take aways some ideas about what to expect from the unexpected! 🙂
Have you already experienced some things on this list or do you have even more to add? Let’s talk in the comments! Make sure to check out our other posts! Especially this one on how to decide what to study at university and this post about how to chose the right university might be relevant for you!
See you soon,