A few days ago, the Daily Telegraph had a Freshers’ Guide. It had some good info, including an article on homesickness, settling in to uni. I was impressed with the article and think they make a good point. A worthwhile EduLink.
I was less impressed with their ‘Top ten tips for students’. I think it needs explaining and a few corrections:
1. Join everything
There is an overwhelming number of clubs and societies you can join. This blog has already covered the difficulty and confusion in joining up for too many different groups. Yes, you can use them to get to know new people, but overkill tends to cancel out any benefit and replace it with confusion. As Nottingham University’s SU Societies Officer suggested, you should check the list of societies in advance (if possible at your uni), go to your Freshers’ Fayre with an open mind and enjoy picking a few societies that should help open up the possibilities to you.
2. Don’t drop people you know from home
I see no problem in this. But it’s always up to the individual to do what is right for them. Don’t feel pressured by people from home who keep wanting your company if you are having a wonderful time staying at university with new mates. Always weigh up the pros and cons to each situation.
3. Don’t put all your social eggs in one basket.
Apparently you should “avoid getting too “in” with one crowd right from the start”. This advice makes it sound as if you’ll be too late to make new friends if you spend the first few weeks with some brilliant people who suddenly turn out to be not so brilliant.
I have spoken to others who have had a similar experience to my own. From personal experience, my best friends who I still maintain regular contact with now were not the first “in” friends that I had. Things change and university is pretty reliable at allowing those changes to take place. I aim to write a bit more about making changes like this at some point in the near future.
4. Get a diary
This is actually good advice if you can keep a strict marker of things. It works even better if everyone else around you can keep track in a similar way. Unfortunately, it’s not always this simple, but I do agree that having a plan of what you’re doing with your time can help your work/life balance and give you the opportunity to shape things without resorting to hours of wasted time, trying to remember when a certain essay is due in and when you agreed to go out drinking with some different mates.
5. Get real (i.e. off campus)
I wasn’t sure about this one. The main advice is to mix with people outside of the academic world.
To be totally honest, I didn’t do that and I don’t feel I’ve missed anything at all. Okay, so I may be biased in that my passions lie in Higher Education, but it didn’t get in the way of my life after university and I still had a lot of fantastic opportunities. I didn’t feel like the outside world had become alien to me!
6. Get yourself a flattering mirror
In a nutshell, boost yourself in whatever way possible. This is sound advice, strangely given. Try boosting your confidence with these tips from Ririan Project, TheSite, To-Done, and iVillage.
7. Don’t go home every weekend
The Telegraph article says “It’s running away and it panics your parents”. I agree with this tip, because you’ll be missing out on certain aspects of student life if you ignore the time when lectures and seminars don’t much happen.
Weekend at uni can be a strange affair. You never know what’s going to happen…sometimes nothing, sometimes the whole scene kicks off as if it’s the last day we have on earth. And a quiet weekend, especially an empty library on a Sunday morning, can work wonders for your study.
Of course, if you have a special reason for going home every weekend, then please don’t let us stop you!
8. Don’t get drunk more than once a week.
Well, that depends on the definition of ‘drunk’. If you drink alcohol (and it’s fairly likely, let’s be honest), you know it’s going to change your mind and body to an extent.
If you get absolutely slaughtered on a regular basis, then your status certainly won’t remain at ‘hero’ level. And if you can’t remember what happened each night, how are you going to be able to argue with that?
But if you end up drinking a little too much, most of your friends won’t even notice, because they will probably have had one too many themselves.
Of course, I’m totally ignoring the health issues regarding alcohol. That’s a different matter. But in terms of status, you’d have to be on a death wish to be deemed a saddo. A sign of approaching saddo status is regularly falling over for no apparent reason during/after a night out. Another is when you wonder how you’ve gone from ‘dressed and ready to go out at night’ to ‘in bed with headache and still dressed in the morning’ without any sense of time passing.
9. Do wash
Maybe I just went to a clean university, but I didn’t get the feeling there were many people who had a problem remembering what a shower and a sink was for. It didn’t stop them from using those facilities for various other purposes too, but we won’t go there…
10. Keep the booklet
Ah, I see. The Telegraph article has left the best advice for last. I, in fact, wholeheartedly agree that your student welfare booklet and any other welcoming/supporting gumph should be kept safely. You never know when you’re going to need it. And when most people need something like that, they haven’t a clue where to find it.
And if it’s a sensitive and personal matter that you don’t want other people to know about, you probably don’t even want to rely on the organised person who has kept everything.