What Graduates Wish They Knew Before Starting University

28th April 2015 Sam Turner Jobs & Careers

You will often find there is a remarkable difference between the outlook of students new to university and those who have graduated. The independence which comes with the student life also brings plenty of challenges. University changes a person. From not being able to fry an egg to having the ability to cook a three course meal with £2.50 worth of ingredients, you gain skills and learn life lessons which help you get on in the world. Some of those lessons students learn the hard way. Here are some of things graduates wish they knew before they set foot on campus for the first time.

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Where to Get the Best Deals

Businesses are very aware that students have (a limited amount of) disposable income. And they want it in their tills. Therefore, if you are savvy you will find the places which give the best discounts in order to attract students. Getting an NUS card will open up a whole world of student offers but there may be others from independent businesses that are more difficult to find. Keep your eyes peeled.

The Poisoned Chalice of Social Media

Sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great for all sorts of reasons: you can easily stay in touch with friends, share your experiences with family and even improve your employment opportunities. However, it can also do the opposite of the last point. Make sure you have your privacy settings sorted out. Higher education thought leader Eric Stoller also has this advice:

‘Everything you post on social media can influence your career. Use digital channels to network and amplify your ability to engage with potential employers. Always think before you post.’


How to Eat Healthily

Living on takeaways is often a way of life for the first year student. Until they realise they have destroyed both their body and their bank account. Eating home-cooked meals made with fresh produce not only saves money but helps you monitor how much salt and other unhealthy ingredients you are consuming.

Your Student Loan Instalments Only Go So Far

A common mistake made by undergraduates is seeing their bank account bolstered by their first student loan instalment only to blow it all in the first couple of weeks and needing to live off a pittance for the remaining months. Planning a budget for food, bills and fun will keep you on track.


Your Time at Uni is Precious – Use it!

With the new found freedom and excitement of meeting new people it is easy to forget how fleeting your time at university is. Aspects of student life such as the flexible working times (useful in London if you want to avoid weekend crowds) and the amount of holidays are things you will miss when you enter the world of work. Use your time wisely.

First Year is, in fact, Important

You will hear a lot of people say it as they try and tempt you into a third pint of lager on a Tuesday night: ‘first year’s not important’. The fact is, however, that many have struggled to catch up with their reading having spent a large part of their opening university year in the pub or hungover. Stoller advises:

‘Procrastination is stealing time from your future self. Work smarter in the present so that you can enjoy your tomorrow.’


Last-minute Essay Writing is not a Good Idea

Many have learnt the hard way. Leaving an assignment to the last minute and spending a night in the library sweating over a keyboard and trying desperately to find enough cash to buy printing credit is painful.

Being Organised, Getting Involved in Extra-curricular Activity, Having a Plan: All Good Things!


Anyone who comes to university with the high school attitude of thinking that getting involved in extra-curricular activities is sad, will rue the missed chances. Similarly, know what you want to get out of university and how you can make it work for you in your future career can only be a good thing.

Mike Hill, chief executive at graduate careers and jobs specialist Prospects has the following advice

‘The majority of students don’t start thinking about their career until the final phase of their study, despite the importance universities put on considering career options and seeking guidance from the outset. Your time at university is precious and how you spend it will impact your prospects on graduation. It’s important to make some time for career planning around all of the usual making friends, social activities and fun aspects of being a student. Visiting your careers services is a good place to start as they can offer advice on the things that you can do to boost your CV such as temporary work, internships and networking

Sam Turner

Sam Turner

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