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Any tips and advice for starting university?

I'll be starting university in just under two weeks and have tried my best to find out about any tips and advice for uni. So, does anyone here have any pro-tips for university? It can be about anything uni related, whether it be something to consider taking, or just general advice. I just want to be prepared as possible. If it's any help, this is university in the UK.

1 year ago by CluelessKiller with 36 comments

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  • FivesandSevens
    +12

    I don't know if this is a US-only problem or just something that's common at my university, but I am always shocked by how little my first-year students (and even experienced students) understand about taking notes in class, and how few of them take notes while doing assigned readings. They seem to feel that note-taking is just copying what's on the PowerPoint slides and then tuning out until the next slide, or trying to write down every word I say, or just waiting to be told to write something down. But those are all kind of opposites of what it should be. I don't teach hard sciences or mathematics and can't speak to best practices in those classrooms, but here's an abbreviated version of the spiel I give my social sciences students on note-taking:

    Taking notes is actually a really powerful form of studying, if you work at it, and can save you lots of study time later as well as making you quicker on the uptake "in real life." There is loads of science on this. When taking notes in class, I recommend putting things in your own words as often as possible, underlining things that are clearly important or emphasized by the prof, working to identify the most relevant info being presented - as it is being presented - and making sure you get it on paper, drawing little pictures to help you remember things, adding swear words, having fun with it - whatever helps you listen and make sense of things for yourself as they happen in the classroom. This puts the information in your personal timeline as something you actively experienced, and it will stick in your memory better. Reviewing your notes later will be more than just rereading and trying to remember what you passively saw or heard in the classroom, it will be revisiting what you thought about the info, what the context was, and (usually) what the professor was really getting at. The same goes for jotting down a few thoughts/reactions while doing assigned readings. I can often predict how well a student will comprehend and remember a lecture just by glancing at their notes.

    If you're already a note-taking ninja, I apologize for the preachy post. If not, I hope it helps you a little with the academic part of university life. Best of luck to you!

    • Qukatt
      +5

      came here to say "learn tot ake notes" and was pleased to see your comment.

      Most of my long term memory came from redoing my notes at least twice from my initial notes (and doodling pictures to go with them) and sticking the hard to remember parts on post its all over my living space. My house was plastered in (colour coded) physics equations in the months leading up to exams :) I got the top score for my year so it must have worked xD

    • CluelessKiller
      +3

      Thank you for this. I've had previous teachers say somewhat similar stuff, mainly around not just copying word-for-word, but highlighting the important aspects and trying to put everything into your own words. But what you have said is extremely helpful as well. I'm okay with taking notes, but I'm not the best. I'll make sure to bear all your advice in mind next time I'm taking notes.

      • FivesandSevens
        +3

        Great! Finding the little tricks and techniques that work best for you is a process that takes time to master, but it'll pay off even early on . The short version of my spiel, by the way, is: "Participate, all the time, in your head, and record that in your notes."

  • imokruok
    +8

    ear plugs and condoms.

    • CluelessKiller
      +3

      I suppose these are somewhat essentials for every student. Thanks

      • imokruok
        +2

        np and good luck! Learn your speed/pace and enjoy.

  • freedomgarden
    +7

    Remember to come up for breath every once in a while. Make sure and explore your local area. All work and no play makes CluelessKiller a dull boy.

    • CluelessKiller
      +3

      Does visiting the clubs and bars at night while drunk count as exploring?

      But I'll now make sure to visit and see as much of the area as I can, and try not to be confined to the 'campus bubble'. I'm hoping to switch to a study abroad version of my course, so for that one year away, I'm be able to explore even more. Thanks for the tips.

  • rhnvrm (edited 1 year ago)
    +6

    study some python.

    • CluelessKiller
      +2

      I don't know much about python. I'm going to be doing physics and I know we are taught some programming. Would python be extra helpful in this case?

      • rhnvrm
        +2

        Python would be super helpful. You'll love using it for your independent research and maybe some data analysis or just some random assignment work.

  • Muffintop
    +6

    Pick up a new hobby: Check out what clubs/societies are there in your uni. Try out a few things and stick with something you like. Not only you will have something else to do apart from studying and partying, but you will also meet loads of cool people and maybe even add something valuable to your CV.

    Try to get internships during the summer, this will really pay off later on.

    Don't forget to exercise (or join a tennis/rugby/waterpolo etc. club).

    • CluelessKiller
      +2

      I'm already considering joining a snowsports society, as I've wanted to learn skiing for a while. I don't know what other societies I'm gonna join just yet.

      Thanks for the tip about internships, that is something I hadn't even thought about.

  • septimine
    +3

    Read the chapter and do a few samples before class. That way if you don't get something, you know what you don't get and can ask questions in the lecture. If you don't do that until after, you're either going to be lost or needing a lot of tutor help later.

    Don't mess with settings in the dorm refrigerator without asking first. My roommate froze soda. Frozen soda exploded, very sticky mess.

    • CluelessKiller
      +1

      Thank you, that's great advice! It'll definitely help me out and prepare me well.

      Cheers for the refrigerator tip. I'll pass it on to my flatmates when I get there.

  • Qukatt
    +3

    if you can't cook, learn. Home made food is cheaper and better than endless pasta and pizza. You can stick everything in a slowcooker (buy one!) and come home after lessons to kick ass chili or stew or casserole, or roast chicken (yes you can roast fucking chickens in a slow cooker!) or pulled pork.. anything. You can make fucking soup in a slow cooker. they are magic.

    Then if you have freezer space you're set for instant meals if you portion the left overs into ziplocks. If you have flatmates you can cook enough for everyone and have them put towards the food (plus some for your effort then you have drinking money!) Everyone loves proper food.

    If you eat shit you'll start to feel like shit and if you feel like shit you can't learn properly.

    • CluelessKiller
      +3

      I'm a bit limited in my cooking skills right now, but my mum is going to show me some good, simple things to cook before I go. I'll make sure to look up other recipes as well. I've got a bunch of Tupperware containers ready so I can store any left other food for the next day.

      Didn't think of a slow cooker, great idea! If I have the money, I'll definitely think about getting one. If I can't afford one, I can maybe coax some flatmates into chipping in for one.

      In my flat there is going to be 12 people sharing a large kitchen, so I'm sure there will times where we can cook some big meals for everyone. Thank you for the tips, and I especially agree with your last statement!

      • Qukatt (edited 1 year ago)
        +5

        I got a 4L one from Argos for like £40 and that was like 11 years ago when they were a bit pricier. You don't even need to know how to cook for them just shove it all in and go :)

        I think if you need to prioritise some skills I would make sure you;

        * have reasonable knife skills (ask for some decent knives - there's a really good ceramic knife set right now from sainsburys but ikea make them as well).

        * Learn how to make a Roux. You basically throw a chunk of butter in a pan then a spoon of plain flour when it's melted and stir it all in and let it cook for a bit, it'll turn into a blob. Then you add your liquid a bit at a time making sure it's completely mixed in at each stage. at the start it'll be blobby and horrible and then about half way it'll go yucky looking and sludgy but at the end it'll should be the smoothest and glossy looking sauce. If you can get the roux to work then you can make any damn sauce you can think of ever. More butter and flour = more or thicker sauce, less = less or thinner sauce. If you use milk as your liquid you have white sauce for lasagne or add cheese for bitching cheese sauces. Swear to go this is my absolutely top recommended skill. you can salvage any old shit with a good sauce.

        * Stir fry, again, you can make a lot of different meals with some good sense of stir frying, a little bit of decent oil, 3 to 4 fresh veg and chicken and bang, done. Plus noodles are so much tastier stir fried.

        * Seasoning. Seasoning takes some practise and entirely up to your tastes but it's down to tsating everything all the time. get a pepper grinder as absolute minimum, never get to the end of your cooking then add it - the goal is not to taste the pepper particularly but to let it seep in and highlight the flavours you are aiming for. If you get brave then Indian food is the place to start going with those skills :) (Curries are also great slow cooker dishes for after the initial spice/frying part)

        I lived in a mixed flat of 8. we had only 2 people who cooked (me and another girl) and the rest were constantly stoned or drunk or both but they were all thoughtless slobs - one wall was decorated with the pizza boxes from the 2ft square pizzas they were ordering every night, they made a trash catapault cause they were too lazy to take it down the stairs and we found a huge wad of mould under the couch. I had my cutlery/plates/slowcooker in my room cause it was the only way they'd be clean and available for use.

        And one time i found a mouldy cheese duck in my fridge. Art students man... suck.

        • CluelessKiller
          +4

          Thank you. This will definitely help me out a lot, especially stir frying. My mum always goes on about knowing how to do that.

          Never heard of a roux before, but I'm glad I do now. I appreciate the rest of the info, and I'll do my best to put it to use.

          • Qukatt
            +2

            yeah stir fry is great, i taught my first BF that and if you can do that then you can do Fajitas and enchiladas and Wings (look up Coke wings on youtube, they are the SHIZZ) and all sorts :D

            • CluelessKiller
              +3

              I do love fajitas and enchiladas, and coke wings do sound nice. I'll give them a try! :)

    • Qukatt
      +3

      plus it's easy to make friends when you can bribe them with real food and people dig people who can cook ;)

      And your flatmates and friends' parents will freaking love you. you'll get asked after and given gifts for looking after their special babies :D

  • ActuallyBrian
    +3

    I would say get involved in clubs and organizations that interest you. Not only do you get to meet like-minded people, but nothing looks better to employers than a full resume. I was a shut in for my freshman year before I started getting involved, and all it did was make me regret not doing it sooner.

    • CluelessKiller
      +2

      Thanks. This seems to be something that has been emphasized a lot to me. I'm not the most sociable person, but I'm going to make an effort to join societies and clubs to meet new people.

  • Harold
    +3

    I know this sounds boring and obvious but spend an hour a day in the library going over what you've learnt each day. I didn't look over any of my notes until exam season. Boy that was a mistake. Last year instead of just dossing between lectures I actually went through my notes and what a difference it made.

    • CluelessKiller
      +3

      Thanks. I've previously been pretty bad at going over notes, so I definitely need to improve at uni.

  • hitthee
    +3

    Best advice I can give? drop out now and get your money back. Unless you're going into a specialized field in the sciences or into law its utterly worthless nowadays.

    Best advice I can give for exams? never study the day before. Relax, have a good meal and get some sleep.

    Best advice for studying? don't think if you just read everything you've studied. That isn't studying that is glancing. Write down concepts in your own words. For every page of notes you should have four sub pages of annotations depending of course on your

    Best writing advice. Avoid filler words like "just" in fact avoid the word just. Don't do the font trick where you increase the font on the punctuation. The profs know all these tricks they don't work.

    • CluelessKiller
      +3

      I'm going to be studying physics.

      The exam advice is a new one to me. Never had someone suggest relaxing the day before an exam.

      I agree with the advice on notes. I've see many people who urge students to go over and expand on notes, and it's something I need to be better at.

      I'll make sure to remember the writing advice for when I've got reports to write.

      Thank you for all your advice.

      • hitthee (edited 1 year ago)
        +2

        Everyone used to comment on how relaxed I was going into an examination, that's how I did it. That and I accepted there was nothing else I could do at this point but that's a personality trait I can't pass on:P. Cramming all night does nothing but wear you out. Exhaustion causes you to make stupid mistakes. Additionally exhaustion causes your recall mechanism to not function properly that and of course for data to be absorbed by the brain you need rest.

        You should always eat well.

        Biology and its processes are natural and automatic so give in to its needs as its your instinct to stay alive.

        Acquiring refined scientific knowledge is an artificial construct so it will always take a back seat to your automatic processes this is basic survival instinct. In short if your hungry you won't be thinking of much else than acquiring food. Comically it's the same reason you shouldn't grocery shop on an empty stomach.

        Why is acquiring refined knowledge artificial? you won't die from not knowing that the neuron myelin sheath is segmented but you'll die from not eating.

        • CluelessKiller
          +2

          Thank you! I struggle to remain relaxed before exams, but maybe I can try harder to suppress that.

          And I'll ensure I'm getting all the food and drink that I need to stay alive and well :P

      • Qukatt
        +2

        he's right. If you don't know it the day before the exam, you don't know it.

        Another tip there is if you can explain the information to someone who doesn't have any background knowledge in the subject and they understand then that's not a section you need to worry about :)

  • DCSpud
    +2

    My biggest thing is Scheduling!!! Make a routine, where you have dedicated blocks to study and do homework. It has helped me immensely. This way you do work during the day and you can feel relaxed at night knowing you've gotten a bunch of work done. This entire school year so far, I am ahead of my homework. I finish assignments days before they are do. All because I have blocked out times to study and do homework. At night I play video games and watch netflix. It's great knowing I can do what I want at night because I am ahead.

    • CluelessKiller
      +2

      Thank you! I'll do my best to do this. It would be nice to be able to relax at night instead of worrying about work.