University Tips Blog
An image of a group of students enjoying university
A headshot image of the author, Emma Berwick

by Emma Berwick

Current Business with French student at the University of Birmingham

posted on 27 Jun '23

A student guide to making the most out of university

Whether students are doing a three-year course, integrated masters, or planning to do a PHD, there are certainly lots of opportunities as they embark on the university journey. This article will offer an insight into the opportunities at university, how to balance this and where to find them. I have split this into the usual three years across their programme.

What to expect during Year 1 at university?

It is important for students to get involved in societies. Not only will they meet new people from all years, build new skills, and attend social events and potential trips, societies will also help with their work-life balance. I would also encourage students to join a sports team or similar.

Often at the end of a student’s first year, societies will be looking for new committee members. There are usually opportunities such as social secretary, treasurer or president, and although these roles are unpaid, they are an excellent way to develop leadership skills, meet new people and give back.

Typically, the first year for most courses at most universities does not count towards the overall grade. This gives students a bit more flexibility and an opportunity to gain a strong foundation into their course, particularly if they’ve never studied a subject before. Taking some time to establish a strong foundation will be a worthwhile investment.

In the first year, with less at stake, students have more time. This is an ideal opportunity to get a job. A lot of students might work on campus, at the student’s union, waiting tables, or as a student ambassador supporting during open days. They also might seek employment externally, perhaps at the local supermarket, or by getting a transfer from their current job. From my personal experience, I would advise working for the university as they are more flexible around study commitments. They are also likely to support future job opportunities through providing references or similar.

Whilst students are at university, they should not forget to take advantage of all the extra- curricular opportunities on offer. This might be free language courses, talks about public speaking or sitting as a student representative. All these opportunities are a small-time commitment but over time will compound so they will finish the first year with stronger time management skills as well as much broader knowledge beyond the scope of their degree.

Now that the world’s opening up - long may it continue, the opportunity to study abroad is too. Even though I have not completed a summer study abroad myself, everyone I have spoken to who has completed one, has had a fantastic time. Students thinking about study abroad opportunities should keep an eye on emails and get in early. Usually, these are offered by partner universities, which means low or no tuition fees for a student. Universities may offer travel grants or subsidies to support this, and the new Turing scheme is also worth exploring.

Images of each year of a university degree, towards graduation

What to expect during Year 2 at university?

For context, at the time of writing, I have completed my second year and when you are reading this, I will be studying at Montpellier Business School. Coupled with the resources alluded to in the first-year section, some students opt for a study abroad or industrial placement. For language degrees, this is an essential part of the degree but for others it may be optional.

Taking place in the third year, just after a student finishes their second year, study abroad can be a fantastic option. If a student is looking to be immersed in a new language, experience a new city or culture and meet people from across the globe, study abroad might be for them.

I made the decision to take my modules in French because I wanted to become more familiar with the terminology and develop my fluency. As I do not yet know what I want to do when I am older, having another language or two under my belt will make me more employable.

Although planning for a career should not be the sole focus of the second year, taking the time to tune into careers talks from professionals is also worth the time. If a student is following a 3-year course, second year (penultimate students) often look for an internship. Whilst this is not the be-all and end- all here, having some employment experience can take the pressure off when it comes to searching for graduate roles. If a student has enjoyed working for the company during this time, they can ‘convert’ to a full-time role, or if nothing else, they will have a toolkit of scenarios for future interviews.

What to expect during Year 3 at university?

We are now on to third year – thank you for reading this far! Whilst I cannot comment with first-hand experience of this, I have instead included some resources below on organisations students might like to explore – this ranges from tutoring to careers talks.

Year 1 resources: Sanctuary graduates (brand ambassador); Peppo tutors; Circl Leadership Programme; Tutor the nation; Wiser; FastFutures
Year 2 resources: SEO London; Aleto; Uptree; Zero Gravity
Year 3 resources: All the above; Bright Network, Target Jobs, Coursera.

Get email alerts when new blogs are posted

This free newsletter will include information on university events added to UniTasterDays, as well as details about new webinars and blog releases for you and your students.

Recommended blogs

Cookie Policy    X