Don’t panic. I’m pretty sure I know how you’re feeling right now. You’ve got your first-year results through and you feel like you’ve totally bombed the year. You just about scraped a pass, whereas it feels like all your friends around you are thriving on their generous firsts. You’re thinking back through all your past decisions, wondering whether university is actually the right place for you. You may be considering changing your course; you might even want to drop out.
Having been in the exact same position as you at this time last year, I am here to give you the wise words of a second-year: things will get better. Here’s some reasons why first year went badly and why the next two years won’t.
The first year of university is absolutely mental. You’re having to deal with a complete lifestyle change, and for most people it is the first time they have lived away from their parents.
Not only have you got to make friends and learn to navigate a completely new environment, but you have to live on a budget from your student loan. Do the washing. Do the cleaning. And let’s not even mention cooking (Pot Noodle, anyone?).
By the time you get around to the important and expensive thing that is your degree, you don’t really have the time left to focus on it that well. It gets pushed to the back of the priorities pile so by the time you get your results, it’s too late.
But seriously; there’s no point beating yourself up over not prioritising your degree enough in your first year. Why do you think the majority of fresher years do not count as part of your final degree mark? The universities know that settling in to a new life is potentially one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. And that living in halls is a nightmare of noise, drunkenness and clutter (at best).
So to reduce the amount of pressure on you, which is already riding super high, your marks count for, effectively, “null point”. You start skipping classes and write your essays at the very last minute because you don’t think they matter – and they really don’t! But when second year begins and everything starts becoming serious and real, your productivity will kick in as the pressure mounts. I personally found that my marks in first-year had no bearing on my second-year results.
Not only does your first year allow you to settle into halls without pressure, but it technically allows you to “practise” your degree. You can get used to the reading and assignment load, work out what tutors expect from you, and figure out your interests. If you hated all of your first-year modules, how could they expect you to do well?
By second year, you know what your interests are so you can choose the best modules to succeed. You’re no longer distracted by the chaos of halls and can manage your workload much better once you have a routine of cleaning and cooking. You discover which work is compulsory – and also what you can get away with not doing.
I make it sound like second year isn’t a bundle of laughs, but honestly, you’ll have as much fun as you did in first year, if not more. Don’t worry about doing badly in your fresher year. It’s a safety net for a reason and gives you the chance to do it all properly in the future.
Do you have any more tips for worried freshers? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: Uclu PhotoSoc / Flickr