The following is a list of myths I was told about university, both before going and whilst I was there. I am going to tell you what they were and debunk them, to ease any anxieties future students may have!
You need to be super smart: In the traditional sense, I wasn’t super smart! I went from being an A* English student in GCSEs to an E grade student in A levels. The transition was certainly difficult, and I gave it my all, but I obviously didn’t make the cut. For this reason, my university applications were severely limited because I didn’t have the standard ABB, BCC or CCC entry requirements. Yet when I got to university – terrified that I wouldn’t be able to hack it as I was surrounded by A-grade students – I actually did quite well. In my first assignment I was bordering on a First, and I went on to achieve mostly 2:1s and the occasional First; culminating in a 2:1 degree overall. So no – you do not need to be super smart. It’s a little different for science and mathematics students, naturally, but there is nothing stopping you from developing and learning. That’s what university is all about: developing yourself as an academic.
It’s all about partying: Your time at university will be some of the best times of your life. Not only do you meet new people, build your confidence and gain a degree, but you have lots of fun in the process. One of the most common myths I heard from students was that university is all about partying. This worried me as, at the time of applying, I wasn’t much of a party person. However, as much as going out on the town and having a mad one is fun and frequent, there are other elements to Uni life that are equally as fun. Being a part of a society or a sports club is a popular choice, and can even give you the chance to go on trips, meet other people, do something creative or get fit. There are heaps of societies and sports clubs at Universities, so you’ll be really spoilt for choice, and who knows – you may find your perfect hobby or interest!
First year doesn’t count: This is an irritating myth to be told. As you worry about completing new university assignments to the highest standards, you’ll find some older students like to tell you that it doesn’t count towards anything. These are the students who spend the majority of their first year nursing hangovers and binge watching Netflix. As much as your grades from first year assignments may not weigh in on your final grade for university, that does not mean they’re not important. If you do not focus and put effort in to those assignments, you will struggle in the following academic years. First year teaches you the foundations of your academic study, and shows you how to construct university standard essays and research skills. As you grow through the years, you might think that first year was a bit redundant – but without the foundations and the introductions to research skills and essay writing, you wouldn’t be able to perform as well. Don’t give a half-ass effort in first year!
It’s all about sex and drugs: Take it from me – it’s not! As much as western media likes to portray university life as drugs and sex fuelled partying, it is simply not the case for the majority of students. There is an abundance of drugs in any university town, granted, and plenty of students who maintain an actively varied sex life. But most students won’t live their lives like that, and you don’t have to either. You will find that in most cases, alcohol is the only drug you require – if any. As for sex, it may seem that every other student is ‘up to their nuts’ and you’re the odd one out. If that is the case, do not worry. There is no shame in taking a modest approach and dating someone, or even establishing a relationship. Equally, there’s nothing wrong with not having any sexual relations during your time at university – the time will come, and the right person will come along also. The most important thing to do is have fun and work hard, whilst maintaining some level of rationality.
There’s no point going to University: Something I heard whilst I was a Fresher – although it has picked up considerably as of late – is that there is no point going to university and wasting thousands of pounds when you could just go straight in to work. I have mixed feelings regarding this, because there are pros and cons to going to university. Yes, you could go in to work straight after college on a trainee scheme; or do a higher apprenticeship or school leaver programme, thus giving you more experience and in some respect eligibility for a job. However, the amount of jobs and career paths that require a university qualification outweigh the jobs that don’t. Being a university qualified worker can also lead to you start with a higher salary than those without, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) More to the point, university isn’t just an academic experience; it’s a life experience. For most people, it’s the first time they’ve moved out of home and experienced independence. For the majority it is where they develop and grow their confidence, and meet lots of friends and laugh until their ribs ache. University should be an equal balance between working towards an undergraduate degree and having 3/4 years of fun. Plus, you only start paying back all of that debt if you earn over £21,000. If you’re earning more than that, I think a small percent of your wages can afford to pay off your unforgettable experiences as a student.
You make friends for life: Not necessarily true! I made friends in first year who, after we all left halls of residence, didn’t make much of an effort for the rest of our time at university. It’s a completely normal part of life – most friends come and go, and only a special few stay true right to the end. A friend you make in first year may still keep in touch with you for years to come, and the same goes for friends you make in your final year; it’s different for everyone, but I guarantee you won’t remain in contact with most of your university friends in ten years time. There’s nothing wrong with it, as I say, and you should wish them good fortune in their future.
You need to get your private accommodation sorted ASAP: In my first year, I was told I had to secure a house as soon as possible, or all the ‘good ones’ would be taken up. Because of this, my friendship group bagged ourselves a truly awful house for our second year. There are copious student residences in most areas, especially Aberystwyth. If the ones that the university advertise don’t fit your needs, don’t worry! There are private landlords and estate agents, and most of them advertise on specialised Facebook groups and student forums. In our final year of university, having learned from our mistakes, we bagged ourselves a truly brilliant student house, with a lovely landlord to boot. Even towards the end of the academic year, I noticed there were still really nice houses being advertised on the forums and Facebook groups. So the short answer is no – you don’t necessarily need to get to your accommodation sorted out as soon as possible. Take your time to find the most suitable house for you!