Thursday, 16 August 2012

Five Tips for Students

Hello fellow student! Please do not be alarmed. I am not your nagging mother. I am a postgraduate student (I'm 27, so to those just embarking upon your degree, I'm ancient!) and in the words of Gandalf the Grey: 'Bilbo Baggins!! I am not trying to rob you...I'm trying to help you'. Okay, so not all of that sentence applied, but you get the idea.

Enough tom-foolery, let's get down to business! This post should hopefully help those of you who are new to this university stuff and hopefully those who aren't, too. I've been attending Bangor University in North Wales for four years now, so I like to think I know a little bit about being a student. Let the mothering begin!

1. Don't spend all your loan on day one: or week one, for that matter. I know this will be obvious to some of you, but you would be surprised by the number of freshers who think 'I'm free! I can get trollied every day and mum won't know! Let's just buy this tramp a drink, he looks like he needs one!'. Put the tramp down, you don't know where he's been. The act of budgeting your money will seriously help. You need it to last until your next loan payment - not turning up to seminar's as you have no bus money and it's too far to walk when hungover will not cut it if you want to be taken seriously by your tutors.

2. It's okay to be alone: If you don't make your new best friend on the first day of classes, please don't panic. I spent a fair amount of time alone in the first few weeks. I was very shy and I'm incredibly nerdy and I think this put people off. However the friends I did go on to make were worth waiting for. I wouldn't have got through it without them. Remember you need time alone too - you're in university to gain a degree after all, not to watch Jeremy Kyle with your mates and take a shot every time he exclaims 'OH MY GOD!'.

Friends make uni do-able!
3. Back up everything: I cannot stress this point enough. Back up written notes so you have an electronic copy. This means you have them safe and CTRL + F helps you find the point you require a million times quicker than searching through scribbled handwritten notes covered in doodles. If at all possible, invest in a laptop or netbook to take notes on. If you save anything to a USB stick, back that up too. I didn't and lost about 2 days worth of MA dissertation research when I left it in the library PC and the horrid user after me didn't hand it in. If this happens to you have a little cry by all means (I know I did), but then dust yourself off and make a plan of action so you can carry on to deadline.

4. Call your mum/dad/whoever brought you up: Essentially, whoever cares about you deserves to hear from you. If needs be, stick to once a week at a time you know you can both/all sit down and talk without interruption. Your family will miss you and I think you may be surprised, late at night when you're alone and writing your fifth essay in as many weeks, you will miss them too. Skype is a good friend in times such as these and is generally more comforting than a phone call. Plus, it's free and anything that is free will become your ally.

5. Look after yourself: Take those multi-vitamins your mum likely thrust at you. They will help against the dreaded 'Fresher Flu'. Every single year without fail the dreaded disease least in Bangor it does. Sneezing, coughing,'s not good and you could well do without it when you're trying to settle in and see eye-to-eye with the lecturer who took an instant dislike to your faculty hoodie, which will no doubt have an obnoxious slogan such as: 'I'm an archaeologist now show me your bones' or 'History - I may be geeky, but at least I do REAL subject' (Disclaimer: these are actual slogans from my fresher days).

In summation: budget well because your life will be so much less stressful if you do. If you over-do it on a night out, don't panic. Just be more frugal the next week. If you take your investment in your education seriously, then looking after yourself is key. You need to have a body and mind that are fucntioning well in order to gain good grades. I ate crap in the first year and barely slept. I scraped a pass. Years 2 and 3 I ate healthily, slept as much as possible, exercised regularly, and worked at least five days a week before and after lectures. I graduated two marks short of a first in History. I had 5 GCSE's to my name before that, not including maths or science, and my secondary school wrote me off as someone who was not set to achieve anything of worth. If I can come all this way, now doing a Masters and my supervisor believes I could do a PhD and lecture in uni, then you can too. Believe in yourself and whilst I'm an advocate of taking your studies seriously as you have to pay the loan back someday, make sure you have fun too. I know I did in between the crazy workload :) This is your time to grow - learn from your mistakes, be safe, and look after yourself. No matter what you think at times, you can do it and you will be fine.

Best of luck!
Nicole (who is so used to writing essays to a large word count, she cannot write in a condensed way, hence the length of this post!)

Me pointing to my name on the Honour Roll


  1. This is a great post!
    I wish my archaeology hoodie had something like that on it, we weren't that creative :P x

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post! Bangor university is the home of the most sordid archaeologists I think ;) I can say that as I did archaeology with history for two years, it was only in the last year I changed to just history x