University Tips Blog
Image of a group of students in a university seminar
A headshot image of the author, Emma Berwick

by Emma Berwick

Current Business with French student at the University of Birmingham

posted on 20 Nov '23

Student voice – reasons to consider university

I chose to go to university because it would be a good opportunity to broaden my horizons and enrich my knowledge. I had enjoyed my A Level subjects, albeit finding them rather challenging, so I felt continuing to university was the right choice for me.

Here, I will provide a student’s guide to how I settled in – and the things to be aware of if you start your own university journey.

What additional information would have been helpful?

Looking back, there were a few things that I would have appreciated having more information on before going to university. Despite watching lots of videos on YouTube and attending open days, I should have asked what the timetable was like for someone studying my subject and what assignments I could expect. It was a relief knowing that the assignments were spread out over a couple of weeks and there weren’t too many very early starts!

I could have also asked for more information on managing finances and scholarship opportunities. Some companies offer scholarships and bursaries, and students may need to apply before starting their course.

Tips when you start your course

I also think it’s a good idea once you are at university, to familiarise yourself with the different departments across the university and be aware of what school/department you are part of. Each school has different opportunities and perhaps a separate team of wellbeing officers who make decisions on things like coursework extensions and offering student support services.

When I started university, I found speaking to students who have been at the university longer than me to be incredibly helpful. There are lots of Facebook groups, where people ask about modules and there is also general university advice. Now I am a student ambassador, I can meet more students across the university, and it is great to hear their words of wisdom. I would strongly recommend attending events, especially freshers’ events which help new students to settle in.

You may also consider additional responsibilities outside of your course. For example, I have had the opportunity to take part in mentoring schemes and sat on youth advisory boards. This has required a high level of organisation to meet coursework deadlines and juggle projects. These opportunities provided excellent clarity on my next steps after university, but if you take on additional responsibilities, it is important to ensure you don’t overload yourself and you stay in tune with your mental health.

Organisation is important

As the assignments started appearing as well as module choices, I found that developing a good organisation system was helpful. For my own degree, I found making a list of deadlines on a sheet of paper and adding these to my Google calendar worked well.

The Disabled Student Allowance

One thing I would really recommend that you do before going to university is to check if you are eligible for the DSA (Disabled Student Allowance). This enables equipment and specific software to be given to you if you have a disability, to help make your learning easier. Applications can take time, so I would advise you to start this as soon as possible.

Depending on your situation, if you have been eligible for extra time in exams at sixth form or college, this should be the case at university. If applicable, and writing based on my experience, students are usually allocated a disability advisor who can provide help and support with study adjustments.

"If I could make one final suggestion, it would be to regularly check emails. All the opportunities, trips and events are usually sent through email, and it is really important to stay on top of that!”

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