I knew from a young age I wanted to go to university, however it wasn’t until I reached the age of 16 that I knew I wanted to study and pursue a career in law. I have just completed my first year at Canterbury Christ Church University studying Law (L.L.B). I’d like to provide a fresh perspective of the first year of university and some of the situations future students may encounter.
At the beginning of year 13 as I began applying to universities, I didn’t know what to expect. I had some information given to me by my elder brother, who went to university 10 years before me. Other than that, like most prospective university students, I was in the dark.
When I began university, independence was the biggest shock for me. I come from a close-knit family and so I found it hard to adjust to life living with complete strangers. You also realise all the things you take it for granted when you live at home, such as someone cooking for you, doing the washing, and taking care of you when you’re ill. However it is surprising how quickly you adapt to your new surroundings and how fast you make friends. So don’t worry if within the first few weeks you’re feeling lost or alone, most people are feeling the same at that time.
One of the biggest academic changes is becoming accustomed to the different teaching style at university, I found the lecture and seminar system a far more effective way to learn than the class style in Sixth Form. I thrived on the availability of independent research, I had access to a brilliant law library, experienced lecturers, and engaging seminars. However some students do find it difficult to adjust to the University atmosphere. The advice I would give to someone in this position would be to create study groups with others on the course and ask advice from your lecturers.
I also learned that it is invaluable to join sports and societies within the university, this can be a great way to make friends, to gain valuable connections and key skills. At my university our Law Society holds weekly moots and advocacy lessons along with society socials, where the film legally blonde will usually make an appearance. Additionally, future employers like to see that you have been active within your society. To show this you could run for a committee position (I myself am currently running for vice president) or organise social events.
Another key piece of advice would be simply to start your work when you get it! It is often said not to worry about first year grades as it “doesn’t count”, while this is somewhat true in some courses, it is still best to give it your all as your first year’s grades will still appear on your final transcript at the end of your degree. Also, don’t ever plagiarise, at university copying someone else’s answers could land you in serious trouble.
Most importantly, have fun! People tend to have too much fun and neglect their studies or they have no fun, get stressed out, don’t enjoy their first year of university and potentially never go back for the second. Finding a productive and healthy work and life balance is key.
University is inevitably going to be a lot to take in and you’re not going to get everything right straight away, I certainly didn’t. We will all make mistakes, when entering into the mature adult world you’re likely going to make a few. The best thing to do is to pick yourself up and learn from those mistakes. Whilst going through tough times it is always helpful for me to remember this simple quote “ambition is the key to life, and the key to getting things done is to act”.
By Paul Cashman-Roberts