Let’s face it: university is hard – you have to learn how to manage your time effectively, revise for an insane amount of hours, and some of you have even moved away from loved ones to study. It can all be a bit overwhelming sometimes. I was a mental health nursing student last year, but have now changed to do biomedical science at Bangor University. I’m not an expert on getting consistently high grades by any means, but as someone at university, I can let you know what to (and not) do throughout your studies. Here are my tips for thriving at university:

Be organised right from the start – I know…this is a bit boring, but it is something I wish I did last year when I started nursing. I was incredibly disorganised – which led to avoidable situations such as losing pieces of work. I’ve made the change this year of writing my notes entirely online. I’ve recently started to use the app and website Notion to keep track on things such as the courses I’m doing, to-do lists, reading lists, and of course having my notes all in one place. Be organised right from the start – you’ll thank yourself later.

The first thing I did when I first started using Notion was to ensure that I created a table for myself which included the deadlines that I have for my assignments and exams this year. Last year when I did nursing, I was incredibly forgetful and would always forget about the deadlines that I had. Now with the help of Notion, I can easily look anytime for when work is due.

I do use Notion for other things as well though; such as for taking notes and writing down blog post ideas. It’s all to do with personal preference whether or not you’d want to type all of your notes online. I understand that many people do not, but for me, I do find it to be significantly easier to stay organised this way. If you’re not a fan of typing out your notes on a laptop or PC, but still want your notes to be available to look at online, consider purchasing a Rocketbook. They’ve become more popular recently, and understandably so. While you could argue that paying £30 for a notebook is a bit much, Rocketbooks are different in the fact that you can write out your notes, scan them through using the app, and then upload your notes online so that you won’t lose them. The paper in the notebook is also reusable.

Familiarise yourself with the services available – This is one of the first things you probably should’ve done when you started university. Many people do forget to do this though. Have a look at the university’s website, as here is where they should state which services are available for you while you’re studying there. Universities should have services available to help students on a range of different matters – finance, academic skills, mental health, technological issues, and so on. Chances are that you’ll be using these services at least once while you’re at university, and so becoming familiar with them sooner rather than later is a good idea. At least then, you’ll know where to go when you are experiencing any issues.

Talk to the people on your course – A bit obvious? Yes, but I do think this is one of the most important aspects to university life. Especially with the current coronavirus pandemic (sorry to remind you all of that), communicating with other students is now much more difficult than it was for me last year when I did nursing. Loneliness is a very real issue this year, and so it is absolutely vital to keep in contact with others and to check in to see how they are. One of the other major advantages of chatting with other students is that you can help each other with any academic work. I personally tend to be more productive when I am working with friends, and so organising study groups with classmates has not only been fun, but has motivated me to do my assignments. Without these study groups taking place, I believe I would’ve struggled more this year, particularly with how teaching has been moved entirely online for us throughout the pandemic.

Maintain a work-life balance – Some people will find this easy to manage, but personally, maintaining that balance has been the most difficult aspect of university for me so far. When I am not studying, I typically spend the majority of my time working in a pharmacy as a dispenser. As a results of this, I barely get any time for myself. However, it is incredibly important that you do take time for yourself sometimes. What you do at that time is entirely your choice – want to play video games? Go for it, Want to light some candles and put on some skincare products? Great. If it works for you and you find it relaxing, then it’s something worth spending your time on. It’s absolutely vital that you take some time to take care of yourself, as a lack of self-care is likely to lead you to feeling stressed, and therefore being unable to complete work efficiently when you are studying.

Learn how to manage money effectively – Out of all the points I’m making in this post, this is probably the point I struggle the most with. I often am tempted to buy items that I honestly do not need. However, I feel like in university, it is an important skill to be able to manage your finances well. This is particularly true if you are living in university halls or private accommodation throughout your university degree. Write a plan of how much you plan to budget each week or month, and state how much you’re willing to spend on each particular category of essentials ect. food, cleaning products, and so on. You’ll noticeably be much less stressed about your financial situation, and so this will have a positive impact on your overall experience of being at university.

Read about your degree in your own time – While this tip may not necessarily be for everyone, I love reading about biomedical science as it keeps me motivated and inspired to put effort into my course. Do you feel the same? If so, you may find this blog post on my book recommendations for biomedical students useful!!

While these tips seem obvious, they are things that people tend not to utilise in their day-to-day life at university, and that are helpful. Would you be interested in more posts about university in the future? Feel free to comment and let me know.