This is the model I use to show the elements you should be working on as you start at university for the first time:
I will cover the “prepare” stage in this blog and further blogs will cover the “reflect” and “ask” stages.
A place to work…
You should now know where you will be living. Regardless of whether you are staying at home, living in halls or renting, the sam applies. It is so important to have a place to work. Few of us have a spare room we can bring into action so perhaps it is going to be your bedroom or maybe finding a space under the stairs. Some people work OK in the cafes (I am deeply skeptical whether it is really possible to concentrate in this type of environment though). Others will want to work in the library or maybe a combination. Whatever you decide, it should suit your needs and I suggest be a place where you can leave all your books and other materials neatly so you can find everything. You should also be careful that you are in a comfortable position because you are going to be spending a LOT of time working on your degree so make sure you aren’t lop-sided or hunched up as this can cause surprisingly serious injuries.
A time to work…
Look at your timetable if you have one yet. Clearly there will be times when you have to be in lectures. I recommend getting a large wall planner and marking key dates on it – lectures, coursework submission, lab tests, exams. See where there is more than one piece of work due – how will you manage? Perhaps you are working – check you can do both paid work and academic work. Do you need to reduce your paid work hours? Do you work best in the morning, during the day or in the evening? How will you fit this in? Mark it on the planner.
One of the most common reasons that students struggle at university is that they are not supported by important family and friends. Some may be massively supportive whereas others might be less so. Make sure they know why you are going to university, how important it is to you and that you really would value their moral support. It really helps if everyone around you is with you and doesn’t try to divert you from your studies.
Oh, and find out what books you need to buy, which to get from the library and get started on the reading. It might not make much sense to you at the moment but even just having a go will be helpful. Some nice pens, lots of notepads and a decent laptop (discussed in this blog) and you are set!