Navigating University: Top Tips for settling into University

 Written by Mabel Pickard

Stepping onto a campus is like embarking on a thrilling adventure, a journey full of opportunities for growth, learning and self-discovery. Whether you are straight out of school or have taken a year out, the world of higher education can be exciting, transformative and overwhelming.

University is a place where your perspectives will be challenged, and your friendships deepened. But no need to fear, as so many of us have previously embarked on this journey before you. As you prepare to dive into your university experience, here are a collection of tips that will not only prepare you to survive but to thrive in the university life. 

Academic Pressure

As you enter university, academic expectations can feel overwhelming. The coursework may be more demanding, and the need to maintain good grades can create stress. It's important to set realistic goals, manage your time effectively, and seek support from professors or academic resources when needed.

I would suggest that identifying a start time and end time for your working day can be helpful. Find a study space that works for you and allows you to have an appropriate work-life balance. Rest, relaxation, good-quality sleep and time for socialising and exercise will help refresh your mind and body and help you meet the challenges that you come up against.  

Social Adjustments

University is a whole new social environment, and it can be intimidating to navigate. The pressure to make friends, fit in, and join clubs or societies can be stressful. It's important to remember that everyone is in the same boat, and it takes time to find your feet.

Be open-minded, embrace new experiences, and remember that it's okay to take things at your own pace. One of the great things about university is the opportunities that are on offer and if you don’t like one thing, then you can always give something else a go.

Independence and Responsibility

University often marks the first taste of independence for many people. With this amount of independence and freedom can come a greater sense of responsibility, such as managing finances, cooking, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It’s a period of self-discovery where you can shape your identity, pursue passions, and take responsibility for your own academic and personal growth.

It's normal to feel overwhelmed at times, but remember to seek guidance from students around you, university resources, or even family. 

Future Uncertainty

As a younger person starting university, thoughts about future careers and life after graduation can add to the stress. It's important to remember that it's okay to explore different paths and change your mind along the way.

University provides a wealth of resources, from career counselling centres to knowledgeable professors and alumni networks, all eager to offer guidance. 

I recommend that you take advantage of these sources, internships, and networking opportunities to help shape your plans for the future. It’s a great chance and opportunity to take advice from those around you who have more knowledge and wisdom about the career path you are looking at.  

Mental Health

The transition to university can take a toll on mental health. The pressure to succeed academically, the challenges of adjusting to a new environment, and the absence of familiar support systems can contribute to stress and anxiety. Remember to prioritise self-care, seek help from campus counselling services if needed, and lean on friends and family for support.

A tip that I have used to help make me feel less stressed and fit in to university life more smoothly is through my personal possessions, bedding and familiar scents. These are some of the ways to make your unfamiliar dorm feel like your own. The familiar fragrance of your shampoo or your own sheets and pillowcase creates a comfort every night which can transport you back to the familiarity of your home. After a long study day it can be such a nice feeling walking back into a cosy, homely dorm room.

While the pressures and stress of starting university can feel overwhelming, it's important to remember that you're not alone. Embrace the journey, take it one step at a time, and remember to enjoy the exciting opportunities that university has to offer.

My personal experience

After completing two terms of university, here are my top tips for what I found helped me navigate through this time.

After the whirlwind of freshers week I found myself feeling slightly lost and overwhelmed and not sure how to get into the swing of things.A strategy that I found really helpful was to implement a schedule into my week. This meant that I could keep on top of my work and attendance, while also making time to go out and socialise.

Something that I would also highly recommend is finding out where your residential social space is. After being at university for a couple terms, I have found this place has been a regular relaxation spot for me. It allows you to go and chill out, enjoy the free food and drinks and just take a break from university life.

My final point is that making new friends at university can be really daunting for a lot of people and a stressful time. However, I have noticed that even in my third term here I am still meeting new people everyday and continue to make more friends each week. This is why I strongly recommend joining as many societies and clubs as you can as its a great way to meet people. The main thing is not to panic if you feel you haven’t met your friends straight away and too enjoy every opportunity that comes your way.

We hope you found Mabels experience of University and her top tips for surviving useful, please share with those you know who may benefit from her words of wisdom!