My uni experience
Uni is a huge step if you choose to go. It’s a chance to move forward with your qualifications, perhaps move away from home, and most importantly meet lots of new people.
In terms of the reality of going to uni, you tend to hear all about the partying side and you work out everything else once you get there. Unless you have a sibling that’s gone to uni, the ins and outs of it all are a bit of mystery – or at least they were to me.
In this piece I’m going to do a bit of a rundown of each year and what I got up to – blog-friendly of course.
To give a little brief, I went to the University of Leicester in 2016 to do English, graduating in July 2019.
The different years
I won’t go into too much focus with starting uni as I’ve done a piece about that which covers the early stages so check that out here.
Second year is when you’re well into the swing of things. You know who your friends are, you know how the course works, and you are used to having to look after yourself.
I found that the course stepped up a bit in second year because there was more pressure of getting good grades. First year was pretty relaxed because you just needed to pass. For my course it was 40% second year and 60% third year so you wanted to do well.
Nights out dropped a bit compared to first year, I was working and I got a position on the dance committee so my focus was split more too. I like being busy though so that’s the way I wanted it.
Third year was a big step up. Again though, this was due to my need to do well personally. Nights out became a treat and graduation was getting very close – time ran out very quickly.
Third year stretches you, and I felt like I lived in the library, but it’s when you get to third year that you realise how quickly it all goes and soon you’ll be out in the real world or work. (Right: The obligatory dissertation photo)
What I learnt? Enjoy first year because that’s what it’s there for. Know when to focus and know when to have fun, because you’re never going to do it again.
First year you’ll be in halls (unless you're commuting from home of course, in which case ignore this section). For my uni there was a mix of flats and converted houses. I was in a house and I loved it. However your halls are arranged, get out and meet people during freshers because it is a great opportunity to make new friends and find your feet – just in time for the learning part of uni to begin.
Second year is when you move into a house with your friends. This isn’t the same for everyone obviously, sometimes people stay in halls depending on the uni.
You start thinking about houses pretty quickly but don’t panic – you’re not going to be homeless. I stayed with my first-year housemates, and for third year we stayed in the same house and a couple of housemates moved out for their year abroad, so we got a couple of new additions.
Staying in the same house made things really easy because it meant I could stay there through the summer for an internship, it also meant I didn’t have to move things back and forth so that was one less thing to worry about too.
When you get to this stage, remember that you have to LIVE with these people. So they might be a laugh on a night out but do you want to be sharing a house when deadlines and exams are happening? Think about that.
Prices depend on where you are in the country of course but some things to think about are:
Management: Do you want a private landlord or agency? I would recommend private landlord because they tend to care more about the property so if you have problems then they’ll get things sorted quicker because there’s no middleman to deal with.
Location: I was in a student-heavy area which was a 10-minute walk from uni so it meant it was easy to get in and out of campus and friends were nearby too.
I worked all the way through uni as a student ambassador. I talk more about that in this piece.
I also did a recent interview with the uni about my journey which touches on the job too.
I would highly recommend working through uni, whatever job you can get. (Left: One of the questionable jobs I did as a Christmas elf!)
It not only meant I had more money, it also meant I got much better at time management and organisation – which ultimately impressed recruiters when it came to job interviews in the future. By getting a job you’re showing someone you can do more than just uni.
Again, I talk about this a lot in this piece.
Just like a job, joining a society enriches your uni experience massively, and shows people you are much more than just a student. If that’s not enough of a reason to join one – you meet new people and get to do something you enjoy/pick up something new. It’s a win win.
Unlike school and sixth form, I didn’t find uni as cliquey. Yes you get the sports teams and groups do form naturally, but there was never ‘the popular girls’ that shunned people from joining their group.
I think by the time you get to uni you’ve lived through that, and you can generally join whatever group you want depending on your interests, and I found that really refreshing. I'd also say I was much more comfortable in my own skin and had a new-found confidence which definitely helped.
What I would say though is that leaving uni really tests who your friends are. Whilst there you’re all in the same place, but graduation comes and suddenly you’re 300 miles from your friend. I had a lot of friends at uni, but there were only a few people that I’d travel across the country to see afterwards.
18 months on from graduation and I’ve got four strong friends from uni that I stay in touch with and I'm fine with that - it's all about quality not quantity.
Now this is perhaps a bit of an unpopular opinion. But personally, I found graduation a huge anti-climax – like New Year’s Eve. I know a lot of people will be missing out on graduation due to the pandemic and to them I'd say it's really not a spectacular day.
It’s labelled as one of the biggest milestones in your life but I just saw it as a tick-box things to finish off uni to be honest. All the fun had come before that and this was just the final step.
I don’t want to finish off on a low, but don’t pin too much on graduation because uni is much more about the process of getting to that point rather than the actual day. I will stress that’s just my opinion though.
I spoke to people who have graduated into Covid - check that out here.
As always, any questions please do ask!