In my last post on getting motivated when you get back to uni, I said about the shock of the second year.
We need to talk about more than motivation… We need to talk about conquering your Second Year Woe.
Yes, Fresher life can push you in every direction until your head is spinning. That’s covered.
But it can be just as much of a whirlwind for second year students too. It’s not fair to expect you to take everything in your stride when you’ve still got so many new challenges of your own.
So let’s address a few of these things right now. Get it sussed before you get stressed.
Like my previous post, I’ve asked Bethany Wren, VP Academic Experience at University of Brighton Students’ Union for some help with this. You can reach Bethany on Facebook and on Twitter too.
So, here are 6 Second Year Woes and how you can deal with them:
1. The honeymoon period is over
When you start anything new, everything is shiny and exciting and woo. By the time you finish your first year, it’s easy to feel that the freshness has gone.
This is where you need to be proactive. There are loads of activities to explore, new situations to dive into, and many ways to rekindle your excitement.
Attitude makes a huge difference to how you feel. When you decide something is boring or you feel like your situation won’t be as exciting this year, you set yourself up for a foregone conclusion.
Continue where you left off. Write down what you want to achieve and experience in your second year. Commit to something you were meaning to do, but never got around to in the first year.
Try to get others involved if you can. The power in numbers will spur you on.
And with ALL THE THINGS going on, it’s easy to forget about YOU. One of Bethany’s personal student survival tips gets you to focus back where it counts. She says, “Look after yourself. Sounds simple now, but it truly [is] the most important thing to do”.
Simple–but crucial–things like food are worth thinking about, explains Bethany:
“Your diet will change how much you can study and how positive you’re feeling, so don’t forget your veggies!”
For more healthy foodie hints, check these TUB links in the archives:
2. There is more housing admin and travelling to do
If you’ve been living on campus (or near to it) in your first year, everything was practically on your doorstep.
What’s it like now you’ve moved further away? Got a longer walk or a bus journey to add to your plans? Sigh.
And what about those housing issues you’ll have that you didn’t encounter in your uni accommodation?
All this takes time.
So factor in something productive when you’re commuting, even if it’s only a few minutes extra walk. Listen to audio of a lecture as you walk, or stick on a relevant podcast. If you take a bus to campus, do some reading or writing so you’re not just looking at your phone doing nothing in particular.
And keep a communal diary for stuff to do with your home. When the bins go out, cleaning rotas, bill payment deadlines, and so on. A bit of joint legwork when you first move in will save you a lot of time over the rest of the year.
3. Work/Life balance is hard to organise
I don’t like the term work/life balance, because it’s not about finding equal amounts of the two things. What you really need is a personal stability that keeps you happy and productive in all aspects of life.
Arrangement is crucial. You can’t wing it any more. Sort out your time, your schedule, your social life, your research, your priorities, and so on. If you go with the flow and let other people dictate when you go out at the last minute, you’ll have less fun than if you had your social time mapped out.
You don’t have to be too strict, but you’re setting yourself up for a fall if you go with the flow all week. An impromptu get-together is fine every now and then. But every other night? Danger.
Then you’ve got extra-curricular activities. It sounds like a lot of extra bother, but it’s not as bad as you’d think and it’s worthwhile for all sorts of reasons. Here’s Bethany:
“Use second year to gain some really valuable work or volunteering experience! I myself did this and am now able to not only say it was one of my greatest memories of university but I can also use it practically for anecdotes in interviews.
“For those who are going into second year who had taken out a year for an internship and are potentially feeling like they have lost touch with peers they made friends with in the first year, I urge you to join a society or a sports team or look at the huge range of activities that park life put on. Amber our Activities and Participation SABB at Brighton will be around putting on loads of great events and activities so watch out for them. You are guaranteed to find something you’ll enjoy!”
4. You were hit by “First year doesn’t count-itis”
Yep, you’re not alone. This still happens to SO many students.
Your Fresher year is a great time to get to grips with university life and meeting new people.
But that year is also useful for getting to grips with degree study and meeting new concepts.
If you didn’t put in as much effort as you wish you’d done, prepare for catch-up time.
Okay, it’s painful.
And yes, it’s frustrating.
But don’t panic just yet!
All you need to sacrifice is an hour or two each week. Spend that time revisiting the content and textbook material from your first year. Read up on academic essays. Prepare in advance for the work ahead of you. See lecturers at the earliest opportunity if you’ve got any concerns so you can get them dealt with and out of the way.
Basically, get clued up now so you don’t continue playing catch-up all year.
You can make up for lost time, so long as you don’t choose to procrastinate and ignore it.
First year doesn’t count-itis may be inconvenient, but it’s no disaster when you grapple with the issues head on.
5. No more “cute, fluffy, first year subjects”
Even if you took the work in your Fresher year dead seriously, your next challenge won’t be more introductory modules. By now, your tutors have taken off your stabilisers, removed the safety rail, and disconnected the sat-nav.
But fear not, because your tutors are still on hand to help you where you need it. They’re not monsters, even the scarier ones.
Don’t feel shy or weak when you feel lost. Be honest about your situation and ask for advice.
Here’s more from Bethany:
“Remember what you have learnt from the first year. Look back over the feedback you got. Can you identify any trends coming up for example, ‘lack of structure’ or ‘undeveloped area’?
“I would suggest that you seek out your personal tutor in the first semester, to not only touch base with them but to also ask if they can advise you on these particular reoccurring themes in the feedback and how to develop or work on them in your assignments this year.”
6. Second year doesn’t get the dynamic focus as first and last years do
There’s so much focus on Freshers and final year students who are about to graduate, that the in-between years are sometimes left behind.
Speak to your students’ union and get the specific issues of second year students heard. That’s why Bethany and other Sabbatical Officers are there at your SU…To listen to you and help take action where it matters.
What do you feel is missing from your second year? How could you be supported better? Are tutors fully aware and supportive of your second-year circumstances?
Basically, don’t suffer in silence. The more voices that can put their point across, the more likely second year students will be seen with just as much importance and not as those in a forgotten year between first and final.
Own your second year with confidence. You’ll go from ‘Woe’ to ‘Grow’ in no time.
Many thanks to Bethany for the great advice. I’ll leave the final word of encouragement to her:
“From me and the SU, I wish all students the biggest and best of luck this year! Go for it!“