How to Make the Most of Your University Experience
As law students, it’s important that we make the most out of our university experiences in order to succeed in attaining jobs post-graduation. Besides the obvious commitment to keeping up with your workload, there are many things that students must consider - read on to find out some of the best ways to make the most out of your time at university.
Attend your lectures and seminars
Lectures and seminars are usually underrated and, as cliché as it sounds, there is possibly nothing you could do better than showing up to your lectures and attending your seminars. Your university may record your lectures but for every time you sit down to watch those lectures, you could have been doing something else with your time. With lectures, you know you are on the right track when your lecturer knows your name despite the fact that he/she is neither your seminar tutor nor personal tutor. Considering the typically large number of law students per course, this highlights that you’re a pro-active student. Likewise, there is a difference between attending your seminar and preparing for your seminar. Being able to actively participate and contribute in seminars is extremely satisfactory because it means that you understand the topic and do not have to start all over again in preparation for exams. Furthermore, your seminar tutors will be far more willing to offer you help and guidance closer to exams if they have seen your dedication throughout the term. Preparing for every single seminar can be time consuming but also remember that it is important to create good working habits. When you make this a habit, it becomes a normal routine setting you up for success in later life.
Establish relationships with your tutors and lecturers
Following on from the first point, developing positive teacher-student relations will greatly impact your university experience. Start by establishing a sense of familiarity with your personal tutor(s); they are basically your university ‘parents’ and could help you in so many ways, be it academically or otherwise. With your seminar tutors, use them to understand your modules better, ask them for clarification when necessary in order to further your knowledge of a topic. Also, take advantage of office hours and consider taking the extra step to ask your tutors on the things you could do to achieve higher grades in your exams and essays. Simply asking them about what they look for in a first class essay will go a long way, trust me. Finally, bear in mind that at some point, you will need to ask your tutors to be your referees for job applications, so increase your chances of a good reference by creating a pro-active relationship with them.
Take up volunteering
There’s this satisfactory feeling of knowing that you have made an impact on someone’s life, albeit how minimal the impact is. If you can do so, you should join a volunteering project and help to give back to the community. Not only is it is an amazing opportunity to see how different your life is to those of others, it will add clear skills to your CV. Besides improving your CV, you would be establishing long lasting relationships with other volunteer students as well as the people that you would be helping. Furthermore, volunteering does not necessarily involve getting your hands dirty or traveling to another country. Merely making yourself available to help your fellow students at university is self-rewarding on its own.
Never ever settle
Whatever you do, wherever you find yourself, never settle for less when there’s potential for something better. Do not stop revising when you know you know you could push yourself to study harder - don’t even try to convince yourself that you need to rest for a bit. Do not settle for a very good essay when you know you could cross check again, make a few edits and produce an excellent essay. With friendship, take as much time as you need to find your people. Always remember that your ‘people’ could be as small as one person and that is completely fine. Don’t settle to hang out with people that you’re clearly uncomfortable with. Finally, negotiation is good, but do not settle for a certain job when you know you have the potential to achieve something better.
Be an active member of a non-law society
There is this misconception that being on the executive team or an active member of the university’s Law Society will place you at the forefront of securing job offers. While getting involved with the Law Society has many, many benefits, do not get stuck on striving to be a committee member when there are possibly hundreds of other societies. If your reason for joining the society is to increase your prospects of employability, employers love diversity! What better way could you explain your hobbies and interest section on your CV than stating your involvement with non-legal societies. My tutor once told me that a student escaped the rejection pile at a law firm because she was a cake taster at university. A cake taster, how does that sound? Similarly, if your aim is to make friends, you have many opportunities to meet like-minded students by joining other societies. Friendships usually start with a common ground and shared interests is almost always the best start.
Do something that you have never done before
I saw this on almost every article and website I ever visited in preparation for university and it deserves to be emphasised again. There are so many things to get involved with at university, some of which you have never done before and will never have the opportunity to do again! If anything interests you, even the slightest bit, do it. Live by Amy Poehler’s words, “Great people do things before they’re ready, they do things before they know they can do it.” Always remember that it does not have to be overtly adventurous like sky diving, it could be something as simple as mooting, or even saying hi to someone first. Taking the initiative to try a new activity is usually the hardest part but there are only two possible outcomes - one, you could either hate it and never do it again or two, you could love it and have yourself to thank for venturing out. So, make sure to test out your limits and learn new things.
Ultimately, there is no doubt that the main reason for attending university is to get good grades. Nonetheless, you could graduate with excellent grades and having also had an amazing student experience; the choice is in your hands! Good luck and enjoy yourselves.