Uni Survival Guide – The Work/Play Balance

First things first. Do not expect Uni to be a walk in the park, because if you do, that park will likely be infested in places with overzealous bees. Yes, a lot of people have raging social lives, and they’re forever posting status updates and pictures of drunken nights out, but remember that beyond all the social media gloss, your friends/ relatives/ people you met once and decided to friend on Facebook are hiding a mountain of work with their names on it.

Be prepared for the shocking truth; Uni is not easy and you really do have to work at it if you want any sort of qualification, never mind a good one. When you begin your time at Uni, steel yourself, because there will be an onslaught so fierce it could send you crying home to your mum and dad (trust me, many have come and gone in this manner). This all happens because after a freshers week in which you are consistently hung over every day, there will be a torrent of deadlines looming at you from a horrifically close proximity. These are the ones that catch most people out. So before you even sit back and think, ‘that’s ages away’, stop, have a good look at that deadline and mark it on your calendar, because in a couple of weeks time that date looks way too close.

This sounds like something your parents would say, but the best thing to do really is to start early, as in, as soon as you’ve been given the nice sheet of paper/ website that it’s written on. Then quickly put it up somewhere in your room where you literally cannot miss it. Next to your mirror, for example. Anyway, starting it early is really great, because you can make a start on all that reading. This means you won’t be scrabbling for books two days before hand-in because every other member of your course has them instead of you. Planning your essay (or whatever you’re doing) will mean that you can go find your quotes to support each idea and write them up, ready to be inserted. Quick tip; read up on what type of system you use to reference, because it’s pretty much guaranteed you will miss something off of it and then have issues getting the book back to have a look for your information. It’s easy enough to look up the name of the publisher if you know the book name, but if you forget to write your page numbers, you’re in for a few hours of agony. Overall, getting into your essay early means you won’t have to sacrifice play time later.

Speaking of play time, plenty of you must know someone who played a little too hard in their first year, and had to re-take or drop out. Because you’re reading this article, clearly you don’t want to be one of those people, however, you will want to know what could be considered a good balance. Finding a balance is quite easy if you treat Uni as you would a job; from 9.00 to 5.00 are your ‘working hours’, and then take evenings and weekends off. If you sacrifice a day to fun, make up for it at the weekend, and snap if you sacrifice an evening to finish before a deadline (not that you should have to if you follow this plan). This way, you’ve given yourself allotted time in which you do work, whilst being flexible enough for any unexpected events of oncoming hand-ins.

While you’re working, the best tip is to go to the library to do it. Although your bedroom is infinitely more comfortable, the library is a working environment where you are less likely to get distracted. Study groups are also really helpful at the beginning of a project or assessment, as discussions about it will give you a more rounded viewpoint when it comes to writing it, and a well-structured plan.

While you’re partying, try to avoid doing it on a night where you need to get up early the next day. If you give your hangover time to subside, you’ll concentrate better during lectures and get more work done in the day.Partying once a week (OK, twice if there’s a special occasion) as seen as a sociable-but-sensible option when I was at University, and winding down in the evenings guarantees you better sleep for the day of studying ahead.

Good Luck!

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