As you may know, I recently graduated uni with a First Class Honours Degree in Multimedia Journalism! Graduating really got me thinking about how much I learnt in the three years I spent at uni, not academically as such, I’m not going to bore you with journalism law or political issues don’t worry, but more about what I learnt about myself, other people, and life I guess! So I decided to write a post to maybe ~hopefully~ help some of you struggling with uni at the moment, or maybe even any of you trying to decide whether or not to go!…..
It’s okay to still not know what you want to do with your life when you start uni (no matter what anyone tells you)
I spent the whole 2 years of my life at sixth form stressing that I had no bloody idea what I wanted to do when I left and it totally freaked me out. It seemed like such a crazy thing to decide at 18 years old what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I mean I was barely old enough to be allowed to drink, how was I old enough to decide something that would affect the rest of my life?! So I literally looked through the courses on offer and thought logically about what I was good at, I love writing, I love social media, multimedia journalism sounded like something I’d enjoy, why not apply?
“You don’t get the real university experience if you live at home” is a load of rubbish!
Don’t get me wrong of course some major aspects of what people associate going to uni with are missing when you stay at home, for example, moving out and living with people you’ve never met, etc. But if you don’t think moving away would be for you don’t let people tell you that you’re doing university wrong by staying at home! I still made so many new friends, went out wayyyy too much and lived the student lifestyle from home!
Going out getting drunk every night of the week can be fun… but unsustainable *sigh*
Go all out on freshers week by all means, but trying to keep up that alcohol fuelled lifestyle is pretty much impossible, especially when you’ve got a 4,000 word essay due next week and a 9am lecture in the morning!
You’re not the only one feeling the way you are
Whether you’re homesick, nervous or shy, there’s always someone (if not many many others) who are feeling the exact same way. I remember being unable to sleep the night before my first ever lecture, I was so scared that the hall was going to be crammed and claustrophobic and I was going to end up having a panic attack and forever being the weird girl who cried on the first day… of course it didn’t happen and I’m sure so many other people were worrying about a similar thing (just maybe in less of a dramatic manner).
You’ll meet so many different people from so many different walks of life… and it’s great
Whether you were part of the ‘in’ group at school or part of the ‘not-so-in-group’ it doesn’t matter in university, the groups just don’t exist. You meet people you’d have probably never met otherwise, and there’s a good chance they have the same interests as you! There’s also a good chance you’ll become best pals with them and end up sat drinking Redbull in the library together crying over a deadline at 1am on a Tuesday morning…!
You can’t wing an essay, you’re not in school anymore!
Essay writing at uni takes a bloody long time, and it takes a lot of reading, unfortunately you can’t just skim the glossary anymore. Oh and Harvard Referencing is the devil.
It’s okay to completely change your mind about what you want to do when you leave throughout your time at uni
I went through first year thinking, ‘Hm yeah I think being a journalist is for me’ then after actually experiencing working in a newsroom (see my next point!) I realised it really was not for me at all and I momentarily panicked that I was completely wasting my time and my money being at uni. Thankfully I stuck out the next two years and ending up changing my entire career path. I started my blog and became so passionate about it, I became the beauty editor for the uni paper, I learnt about the world of PR and marketing and I finally thought to myself, ‘THIS is what I want to do with my life’
Experience. Is. Everything
I went off to do work experience with a local newspaper for a week in the summer after first year, well, when I say a week, maybe it would’ve been had I lasted more than 3 days before deciding it wasn’t for me so much that I ended up panicking and leaving. After that the thought of work experience terrified me, I was sure that I’d find any kind of work placement so stressful that I’d have to leave and I’d never manage to find a job because I was always going to be this panicky stress-head person (again, in hindsight I see this was slightly over-dramatic). It took almost a year before I plucked up the courage to carry out more work experience, the first being helping with the social media and photography for a local family festival, much more up my street and I thoroughly enjoyed it, showing me that the use of social media within the PR and marketing industry was definitely something I was interested in. And then, if you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know that earlier this year I did something supeeeeeer huge for me and I went off to work at Heat Magazine for a week (read all about it here) this again was a massive light-bulb moment for me, magazine/feature writing was sooo similar to blog writing and I enjoyed every single second at Heat. Work experience is so important when you’re deciding what you’re wanting to do and it looks great on your CV, don’t let one bad experience discourage you, even now as a graduate I’ve got two more weeks of work experience lined up and I can’t wait!
Sometimes life gets in the way, and that’s okay
Being at uni takes up 3 or 4 years of your life, most people go from being 18-21/22 while being at uni, so it’s almost a given that life is going to get a bit rocky throughout that time. Whether it be a family problem, an illness or the loss of a loved one, life can be overwhelming and trying to struggle through it alone while juggling deadlines and exams can get too much… but that’s okay. Use your lecturers and your tutors, they’re there to help, having to get an extension doesn’t mean you’re a failure or admitting defeat, take the help that’s offered to you, that’s something I learnt in third year.
Finally and most importantly, always strive to do better, don’t settle because you think you’re working to the best of your ability, you can always do better
When I started uni I was used to being pretty much your average Joe grade-wise. I got my A-C GCSE’s and I passed my A-Levels, I was never outstanding and I certainly never classed myself as being particularly bright or anything special. The fact I viewed myself this way meant in first and second year I never pushed myself to get a first in any assignment because I never thought in a million years I could do it, firsts were just what the clever people got, not me. I was over the moon with every 2:1 I got (and rightly so!) and if I was ever to get a 1st I’d put it down to being a fluke.
Something clicked in 3rd year, I myself knew I hadn’t pushed myself as hard as I could’ve done in 1st and 2nd year, I was suddenly craving a first overall or I wanted to at least know I’d gave my everything into trying to do the best I could’ve done. I put everything in to every assignment I was given, which meant missing out on nights out with friends, spending hours and hours in the library (I’m serious… the longest visit stood at 13 longgggg painful hours!), it took a lot of stress and tears but I got there and somehow, the person who was so used to getting average grades through school and college and never pushed themselves, managed to graduate with a First Class Honours Degree AND won Fashion and Lifestyle Reporter of the Year!
Uni for me has been the best three years of my life, I’ve learnt so much about myself and about what I’m good at, and not so good at. I’ve made friends that I genuinely think I’ll have for life, and I’ve grew into a much more confident, strong-minded, determined person, now roll on my life as a graduate! <3
Thanks for reading,