First year advice from a graduate

Guest BloggerAdvice, First Year

My time at Aston has come to an end, and with that brings about glimmers of nostalgia forming here and there from my first year of university. The adjustment that came with moving to England’s second city was a tough one, and moving from college to university was even more daunting. As incoming first year students, here are some top tips that may prove useful to get you through the year!

Do NOT underestimate first year classes!

I am sure you’ve heard so many students say, “all you need to do is pass” or “first year is easy, don’t stress too much about it”. While first year teaches you foundational knowledge of what your course entails it does NOT mean you can just relax and study a week before the exam. First year, although it may not count for most courses, provides you with the work ethic that you need to carry you through the coming years of university. While in secondary school or college, you live in your parent’s house and need not worry about things such as cooking or washing the pots. However at university, you have so many things to juggle whether it’s attending society events or just remembering to cook something so you won’t go hungry. And with all this juggling, you need to make sure your studies are not at the bottom of your priorities because (trust me) skipping that one week of lectures is not worth it once exam season kicks in.

Make a spreadsheet to manage your finances

As a student, there is nothing better than receiving that text from SFE saying “your money will arrive in your bank account within 3 working days”. But before you start blowing off all that maintenance, close all the online shopping tabs and pull up good old Excel. Staying on top of your finances is the best way of avoiding the dreaded overdraft as it outlines which areas you spend the most money on. If it’s on groceries, shop at Aldi instead of the Tesco on campus. If it’s on food, cut down on certain things like Costa Coffee or sausage rolls from Greggs. Spreadsheets may also outline that if you want to uphold a certain standard of living at uni, you need to apply for some part time work (the Jobshop at Aston have so many part time opportunities!). Making a spreadsheet can also bring good news that maybe you are more frugal than you thought and have a little extra spending money that you can use every month!

Get to know the Careers and Placements team

The Careers and Placements team are an integral part of your university experience as they provide you with all the skills and tools necessary for you to secure a job once you graduate. Whether it be looking for part-time employment while at university through the JobShop, or talking to a Careers Consultant to find the career path that is best for you, the team has a wealth of knowledge in everything career-wise so building a good rapport with them will prove beneficial to you while at Aston. The Aston Careers and Placements team have also been awarded “Best University Careers/Employability Service” at the 2020 National Undergraduate Employability Awards so they definitely know what they are talking about.

Arrange appointments with your personal tutor

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is surprisingly an under-looked thing to do while at university. The beauty of Aston being so small is that the staff are able to pay close attention with you and you can form good relationships with them. The tutor usually has been a part of Aston for many years so they will be able to provide you with any information you need to adjust into the university. Your tutor will also be linked to your course so if you have any initial queries or you are seeking guidance for what kind of path you want to move towards in your career, your personal tutor will be able to help you in that aspect. You do not have to schedule a weekly appointment with your tutor but forming a good relationship with your tutor will prove to be beneficial in the long term.

Final thoughts

Like any good TV show or movie, there is always the character development arc. Your start at Aston University will be the first steps into the phase so get ready for a lot of changes and learning ahead! I wish you all best of luck for your first year in Aston and I hope you enjoy your time at the university.

Photo by Matese Fields on Unsplash

Written by Saif Widyatmoko, 2020 Aston Graduate