You’ve sent off your UCAS application and got an offer – or you’ve come through Clearing. The biggest step is out of the way – congratulations!
Every student will have their moment of panic after the dust settles, and all these questions pop up, seemingly out of nowhere:
- What if I don’t make any friends?
- What if I’ve chosen the wrong course?
- What if I don’t like my accommodation?
- What if I don’t know how to do anything independently?
Don’t worry! I’m going to answer all of your questions in this blog post.
"What if I don't make any friends?"
This may sound like a very familiar thought to you, and it was for me, too. You hear about how everyone finds “their people” at university and how you can’t help but find likeminded people, especially on your course, but there’s always that nagging feeling of ‘but what if I don’t?’
Despite being cliché, my biggest piece of advice would be not to worry. Everyone is going into this experience in the same boat, and just as much worry – and that includes mature students, transfer students, international students, and students re-sitting! Even though everyone shows it differently, they’re all just as nervous! People handle it in different ways – some make themselves the centre of a conversation, others shrink back and watch, hoping somebody will strike up a chat. Whichever your style is, keep in mind that first impressions, despite the saying, aren’t everything, and the person you happen to sit next to in induction isn’t bound to you forever.
On that note, you may find that people form cliques during the first few weeks. Some of these last, and some of these don’t – don’t feel pressured to hang out with a group of people you are not comfortable around. Have fun, speak to people you usually wouldn’t, and most importantly, be yourself! If university isn’t the place to be your real self, I don’t know where is.
"What if I've chosen the wrong course?"
I’d been planning on doing some form of English course at university since I could hold a pen. However, before coming to Leeds Beckett, I started to doubt myself and started looking at all all of the other courses out there. I remember showing them to my mum and saying things like “why didn’t I choose something like dietetics or… digital journalism?!” (even though before this, I had never in my life registered interest for either area).
I think there’s definitely a case of ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ when you already know the course you'll choose before you apply. You suddenly feel as if you haven’t made the right choice in what you study and become worried at the idea that, had you only single-handedly started a school newspaper at the age of 12, you could have been top of your game on a journalism degree. You’ll find that as soon as you start the course you signed up for and the workload starts to pile on you’ll be grateful you picked the course you always wanted to do.If you chose a course on a whim, you may not be as passionate about it when your assignments begin to pile up.
That being said, if you are in that situation, and you feel stuck in a course you know you won’t enjoy for the full course of your degree, speak to Student Services, or your tutor, about the possibility of moving courses. Sometimes, this is easily done within the first few weeks, as everyone is settling down after Freshers and no real workload has been assigned. The only issue with this may be your grades and qualifications needed to switch courses, especially if the degree you want to move to if oversubscribed, but speak to your tutor about this and find a compromise.
"What if I don't like my accommodation?"
If you’re not moving into halls, read ahead, but if you’re worried about university accommodation you have nothing to worry about. When I applied to Leeds Beckett through Clearing, I was told there weren't many options left regarding accommodation, so I didn't have loads of choice over where I was going to live.
I was grateful for not having to sift through lots of options, but also nervous. I wondered what my flatmates would be like, how I would get to uni every day, how would my room look…? When I actually moved in, I had no issues, and you’d be surprised at just how fast you adapt to this new environment. Yes, you may miss the luxuries of home (branded cereals, ridiculously long showers… the list goes on) but you’ll find that if you do have an issue in your halls, they're over really quickly. If something bothers you, just have patience and be polite – nothing gets sorted from being rude: that goes for your roommates and for staff! Be open minded about a different living situation, and even if you don't feel 100% settled straight away, give it a chance.
"What if I don't know how to do anything independently?"
Now, even the most confident, sociable, open-minded people will be worried when it comes to this one – looking after yourself. You don’t realise just how much is done for you until you have to do it yourself. The main concerns students tend to have are centred around cooking, cleaning, and clothes (the three Cs, if you will). Most will shrug it off, letting the clothes in the corner of the room pile up until there is virtually nothing left in their wardrobe. Others refuse to learn to cook and survive off microwave meals and noodles. However, I highly recommend you don't do this - I think you should learn some key skills before you arrive, and when you're here get into some kind of routine, even if it’s not a strict one.
You'll feel so much better when you go and get your washing done, or make a moderately healthy meal. Student cookbooks can be found so readily, and more importantly – cheaply, in charity shops or online, and for any diet. My favourite is Vegetarian Nosh for Students as it doesn’t require any super fancy ingredients, and the only measuring tool you need is a mug! Unless you’re doing a catering degree, nobody you’re living with is going to be Delia Smith in the kitchen, so try new foods and try not to rely solely on takeaways – a lot of the time it’s way more fun (and you save a heck of a lot of money!).
Overall, my main piece of advice would be to have fun and try things you usually wouldn’t – join a society for something you’d have never thought of joining before, or check out the Give it a Go page on the Leeds Beckett website to see if there are any fun events on campus you’d like to try! It’ll all be worth it in the end!