September is creeping up on us now so it's almost time to start thinking about getting sorted out for the next academic year. With uni fees now so high, you really do need to make sure you're getting the most out of your degree and what you're paying for.
Whether you're starting this year or are a returning student, here are some handy tips to make sure you're fully prepared for the year ahead with 5 things to make sure you do before term begins.
Textbooks – Research before you buy
Most past students would probably agree that buying a set of brand-spanking new textbooks in their first year of university was one of their biggest mistakes, amounting to a huge waste of money. Not only will you discover that textbooks are hugely expensive but you’re likely to find that, one year down the line, you have opened that ‘required’ textbook a grand total of 3 times.
- Find out which really are absolutely necessary – required books change from year to year, so don’t jump the gun and make your purchases using the required reading list from the year before. If you can, hold off and wait for your lecturers to explicitly tell you exactly what is worth buying.
- Hunt around for the cheapest prices! Most campuses have a second hand book shop – check these or online sites such as Amazon or eBay to get the best price. Even better, check your uni library or the internet to see if they have copies free to use.
Research module choices
As dull as this sounds, this is absolutely crucial to ensure you get the most out of your time at uni. Do your research, different modules will often be based around different forms of assessment; if you crumble under the pressure of exams, the last thing you want is to rock up to your first lecture and find your mark for the entire module will be decided by one 4 hour exam at the end of the year.
Module titles can often be misleading, it’s always worth a quick check to ensure you’re signing up to study what you think you are. There’s no better way of doing this than assessing what past students have said about the very modules you’re looking at – check out http://www.studenthut.com/course-modules to make sure you’re making the right decision!
Read around your course before you arrive
It’s always good to have a vague idea of what to expect before you turn up to your first lecture or seminar. No-one wants to be the clueless kid sat at the back who turns an intense shade of red, mumbling something about having forgotten as the lecturer asks them the most basic question about your course.
We’re not suggesting you read all of the required, suggested and extra reading before your first day but it is useful to refresh your mind on the basics. If you’re able to place the content of the lectures in the context of the wider field not only will you get more out of them, but you can sit comfortably, assured that you’re at least half ready to deal with any rogue questions the lecturer may happen to throw your way.
Attend the introductory lectures
Waking up the morning after your 4th night in a row in Freshers Week, we understand dragging your poor little hungover soul to an introductory lecture is not going to be high on your list of priorities. However, if you are physically able to do so, you really should make the effort.
These lectures will outline exactly what you should be doing and what is to be expected of you during your time at university. Key dates will be pointed out, key websites, and your key contacts within your department – all snippets of information which you will undoubtedly need during your time at uni. It’s much better to start the year off fully informed, don’t make life unnecessarily difficult for yourself right from the beginning.
Utilise your Parents’ Generosity
Before you arrive at uni and you’re left to fend for yourself, make sure you make the most of having your parents around! Compile a list of the things you’ll need before you leave home and plan a day of ‘Uni shopping’ with your parents. Aside from all the obvious home furnishings and cooking gear, don’t forget about any bits you may need for the academic side of things. We do supposedly go to uni to work after all. Things commonly forgotten include laptop cases, notepads, and folders to organize all that work you’ll be doing…. or not. See our list of things you should definitely be packing for a bit more guidance on this one. http://www.studenthut.com/articles/20-things-you-should-take-university