Diving into an ocean of the unknown, joining University can be daunting. Loans, friends, careers, accommodation? Every potential worry you could have is thrown at you full speed. It’s a scary prospect, and it can be even harder to know what you want to do at the end of the three years – after all, you’ve only just started them!
You’ve worked so hard throughout your education to get to this very place, but you have no idea where to begin. So what now?
Get yourself out there!
Realistically, a degree won't enough to get you a job or a dream career after university. Even if it feels a lifetime away, work experience, extracurricular activities and hobbies will be the things to make you stand out when you go for your first graduate job. Showing that you’re a well-rounded person with a variety of interests will put you ahead of someone with just a Bachelor beside their name. If you're a pro-knitter, a Ukelele champion or just enjoy a weekly swim, make sure you stand out from the crowd!
Have no (or less) fear!
I was fairly reserved before University, so taking the plunge and putting my writing out on a public forum was a huge step, but one I’ll never regret. I really enjoy writing, so I set up my personal blog to have a basic portfolio on anything and everything I found interesting at the time. I was wary of people making fun of me, but it worked out entirely in my favour! It meant I could then pitch myself as a contributor to various voluntary publications, allowing me to expand and launch my portfolio onto a more professional level and gain great connections along the way! I’ve now got substantial writing experience behind me, which is a great springboard when applying for jobs.
Do the things that scare you, even if you could fail
The highlight of my degree was hearing that I’d won my dream scholarship. Santander awarded me the funds to travel, live and study in Spain for three whole months. I’d wanted to live abroad my whole life, and I finally got the chance to do just that! The whole experience was genuinely unforgettable, and it was quite easily the best and scariest thing I’ve ever done. I kept thinking of how much could go wrong when I was living in a foreign country all on my own, with no concept of the language. But the whole point was to experience that fear and use it to make myself stronger. I experienced incredible places, met fantastic people and learnt a new language to a pretty decent level, which I never would've experienced if I didn't go for it. I will always be grateful for that opportunity!
Santander Universities advertise their scholarship opportunities each year – so keep your eyes peeled for them!
Seek development opportunities
My degree really helped with this. I was surrounded by other creative people who had a passion for writing, and I was taught by passionate lecturers who consistently emailed various opportunities to students. I decided to go after a lot of ambitious feats – learning how to sail, traveling abroad, pitching myself to magazines and applying for a scholarship. These all really boosted my confidence, and encouraged me to keep going for the next big thing!
Academically, my biggest development was in my third year when I enrolled in a majority of creative writing modules. Professional Writing, the Creative Dissertation and Contemporary Poetry all freaked me out in equal measure; I hadn’t written poetry in years, and I was terrified of being criticised on something I’d been pursuing for years – professional writing. Plus, a dissertation? Well, everyone is scared of that. Regardless of this fear, I saw these modules as invaluable opportunities to improve my craft, and I received firsts in each of them! So it wasn’t so bad in the end…
You have all the time in the world to be old – enjoy the three years you spend in a student vacuum! Go for things that scare you – join the society you have no experience in, try a new sport, go out for an adventure with the people you’ve only recently met. My personal regret was that I didn’t join a ridiculous amount of societies in my first year and try them all out. I also regret not trying to attend UPSU’s Summer Ball each year. In all honesty, the events intimidated me, but I finally went this June and it was actually the best night of the year!