Every day, the end of my bachelors degree is drawing nearer and nearer – it brings you back to the feelings of “what’s going to happen next?”, similar to that of finishing high school. So I can’t think of a better time to reflect on what I wish I’d knew as a year 13, about to take the leap into uni.
First off – take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay
* I think the worst part of such a change is that you just don’t know what things will be like. You might have been at the same high school for years, the same city, doing the same things – and to change all of these is daunting. But just as you once adjusted to being in high school from intermediate, and all other changes, you become comfortable, and settle in – and this will be no different. I remember my first few days of being on campus and how strange it all felt, to be in these buildings I’d never been in before, to be amongst all these people who just knew what they were doing, and to be studying some things totally different from high school. But after a few weeks or so, it becomes the new normal – so don’t stress, you will be just fine.
You will have time for other things
* One of the most common misperceptions about uni, and particularly more demanding courses and degrees, is that you end up with no free time, or you have to sacrifice good grades to have a social life – and that is not true. Being efficient about your studying and finding ways that work for you, as well as being organised with your time, means that you will have time to do other things, as long as you allow yourself the time to relax – not every single minute of your semester has to be spent studying or working.
It’s more independent but you will be supported
* I absolutely won’t deny uni is quite a bit more independent than school. I like this quite a lot – no more scratchy uniforms and getting to eat whenever you want (mostly – don’t eat in labs!!). But this also means that you’re in charge of your learning – you’re responsible for meeting your deadlines, studying for your tests and exams, and staying on top of your work. And this might come with added independence if you move out, or become in charge of your own money and Studylink. But this definitely isn’t to say that you’re thrown out on your own – Student Hubs can help you with so many aspects of your general uni life, like fees and enrolment (definitely two things that can be very frustrating at times, but everyone at Hubs is so friendly!). You can always contact your lecturer or tutors if you feel like you’re stuck academically. The uni also provides free counselling at the uni health centre – all the support you’ll need is here, so don’t be afraid to use it.
It’s a time to discover who you are and be who you are
* This sort of independence at uni allows you to do whatever you want (well… within reason). You have the freedom to wear what you want, study what you want, do whatever extracurriculars and join whatever clubs you want – it’s a time to discover and become who you are!
You’re allowed to change your mind
* When I was picking what degree I should do as a high school student, I felt tons of pressure to make the right choice. But sometimes, there really is no way of knowing whether you’ll like something until you try it – and you can always change your mind and choose something else! Many people I’ve met have changed their change of course of study at some point. Sometimes it means you have to study a little longer to meet the requirements of the degree, but it will be worth it.
I’m right back in that place of figuring out my next steps, just as many high school leavers will be doing – but everything will fall into place, so be sure not to stress too much, and enjoy the last of whatever stage of life you’re in, whether that be school or the end of your degree!
PS: the picture for this post is from the immunology module of Biosci 201, I’ve gone through most of my degree now, and that module is still one of my favourites from my whole degree!