My University Experience: What I'd Do Differently - Freshered
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My University Experience: What I'd Do Differently

Ellie-Rose Baker May 9, 2023

Speak Up. Reach Out is Freshered's mental health initiative.

One year on from my last assignment deadline, here are some of the things that I would do differently if I had my university experience again:

As an English and Creative Writing student during Covid-19, there are a lot of things that I would like to change. Some of those would involve eradicating the pandemic completely, others aren’t quite so drastic.

Seek Out Work Experience

After spending the last six months going through job interviews as regularly as hair wash days, this absolutely had to be at the top of my list. Unless you have work placements as an integral part of your degree, this is definitely worth looking into and is the main thing I would do differently at university (if I had a crystal ball).

Covid didn’t help with this one as work experience was incredibly hard to come by, even remote, but it’s something I wish I had been more active in doing.

Say NO!

As a serial people-pleaser, university was my dream and my nightmare. When opportunities arouse, I found that I couldn’t say no. This meant that I ended up being massively overcommitted and struggled to find time for my studies. Finding the balance of not missing out but also saying no can be tricky, but it’s something that I wish I’d mastered earlier on.

Say YES!

For all the ways in which I couldn’t say no, I definitely needed to say yes to joining societies.. I didn’t actually join any throughout my time at uni, but I so wish that I had. I know it would have really helped me make more friends and increase my confidence.

Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach on Unsplash

(Whispers) Don’t do all of the required reading

This one depends on how your lecturers teach, and so maybe you should ignore this one for the first few weeks until you work it out. I over-read SO many textbooks in my first year, and within minutes of entering my first class, I could have thrown it out of the window. Not only did I waste my time, but they were ridiculously and unnecessarily heavy, and I often fell asleep mid-sentence, so I wasn’t really taking any of the information in.

Acknowledge when I’m procrastinating

This sounds like an odd one, but only in my third year did I start doing it. I would sit at my desk for three hours, spending two and a half of those scrolling through my phone.

By only committing to 30 minutes of study, it meant that I was more productive in that 30 minutes than I would be in three hours. I would then go for a walk, have a bath, read a (non-uni) book, meaning that I was looking after myself instead of scrolling, helping me to get into a better mindset for another 30 minutes of studying. It will make for a much more productive experience.

Finally: Live in the moment

As cringy as it sounds, the constant pressure of living deadline-to-deadline is not healthy. This is something I wish I had learned sooner, but even if people had told me this in my first year, I know this is something that I had to figure out myself.

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Ellie-Rose Baker, alumni of the University of South Wales, is an almost adult, tackling the big wide world with an English and Creative Writing degree in one hand, and a cuppa in the other. A Freelance Journalist for Freshered, Ellie-Rose's primary focus' are navigating postgraduate life, climate change and literature. She also takes her writing inspiration from her other roles which include theatre ushering and English teaching.