4 top tips for first year university students

Posted: 11.01.2017
Author: Hauwa Mohammed

There is nothing like hindsight to make you see how you could have managed things better.  Now that I’m in second year, I have 20-20 vision on last year and there are a few things which I would have benefitted from knowing so I didn’t have to learn the hard way. So here’s my advice to all first year students (or any student who hasn’t learnt the basics yet!).


1. Attend ALL lectures, seminars and tutorials

Some of your lectures will probably be recorded and posted online and you might decide to just stay home and ‘watch it later’. Speaking from experience, this is a horrible idea! Watching a low quality video of the screen is not the same as learning face to face with your lecturers and being able to ask questions at that instant. Although, I guess this partly comes down to how well you manage your time when you’re not present, but you are spending a lot of money to be at University so it’s better to just show up. Seminars and tutorials are opportunities for you to ask questions and make sure you’re really comfortable with what you’re learning. Attending these also motivates you to stay on top of your workload.

2. Keep up-to-date on your studying

In Secondary School days I remember how everyone just left the studying until the night before the exam and then pulling an all-nighter. Even though a lot of people still do this at University it’s best to learn to do your work at the right time. Take advantage of the ‘calm before the storm’ period where it seems like everything is going smoothly before all of a sudden you have a huge amount of essays and coursework due. Use that time to create your notes and catch up on any studying you have to do. Personally, the NCUK program was great in helping me learn the study techniques that work for me even though I had to tweak it to suit my University study needs.

3. You’ll need the previous year’s knowledge in subsequent years

Something I’m learning in second year now is how important what I learned in first year is. In almost all of my classes, it is assumed that I remember 1st year content and it’s only briefly revised if at all. I am happy that I still have my notes from last year so I can quickly go through them if I need to remember anything. So, it is important to organise your notes and store them safely.

4. It doesn’t matter what time it is – get involved

Away from the academic stuff, it’s also really important to get involved in extracurricular activities like clubs and societies in order to unwind, meet new people and enhance your CV. I was a little late in arriving to University so I was hesitant to join societies and now, I wish I had joined earlier! It really doesn’t matter, for most societies, you can join at any time in the year and get to have an amazing time and do amazing things.

I hope you find these tips useful and have an incredible journey ahead!

Hauwa is currently studying Bioengineering BEng (Hons) at the University of Sheffield. She took the NCUK IFY at Zamani College, Kaduna, Nigeria.