What advice would you give to first year students?


What advice would you give to first year students?

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Photo by Eunice Lituañas on Unsplash

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New to the university?

Looking for advice on how to make the most of the experience?

We asked some of our students to take part in a diary writing activity. It was designed to help us understand the experiences our new students face. For one activity in the diary we asked those taking part what advice they would give to new students starting this September.

These students were in your shoes not long ago, here’s the advice they would like to give to you…

It’s a world of opportunities…

There are many opportunities, some outside your course and some within, such as talks with guest speakers. I would recommend attending anything you can which is relevant to you.

We say – Library and Learning Resources have a range of exciting opportunities too. Become one of our Library Champions, to help us improve existing services and resources and to develop new ones. To apply, please click here and search for ‘Library Champion’. You could also become a ‘Library Special Collections and Archives Volunteer’ you might be asked to catalogue, photograph or research items and help with social media, exhibitions and visits. Please click here and search for ‘archives.’

Make friends

“Joining activities and going to societies with other people makes being away from home easier. This is a great way to get over homesickness.”

“Try and get to know people around you. Especially housemates if you have any. Being friendly and nice towards others will help with living with them for the next year. Try and attend, if your accommodation does some, welcome meetings. I missed the social meet-up for the majority of people living in Lanfranc and I regret it. Most of my flatmates say that’s  where they made their friends.”

“First, I connected with international students only but now I started making friends with students from my course so my English is improving. I am adapting, I am integrating.”

Just ASK…

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There is no such thing as a ‘stupid question’. Your PAT is there to help you so contact them if you are struggling”

“If you are struggling, definitely talk to someone. It could be your PAT, student support or anyone. The first few weeks of uni especially can be hard so ask for help if you need it.”

We Say – We completely agree! The Library and Learning Resources motto is Just ASK. We are here to help. Make use of the Student Support and Wellbeing Advisers. The advisers support students in making informed decisions through one-to-one conversations, be it related to personal, general wellbeing, financial, housing, or academic matters.

How to make the most of the library

“Go to the library and try it out.”

We Say: If you get stuck just ask at our staffed Library point. The Augustine House digital map might help to orient yourself.

“Get to know your librarian. Take advantage of online resources.”

We Say: You can find out who your Learning and Research Librarian is on the Learning Skills Hub. You can start taking advantage of our online resources today. Visit LibrarySearch it’s our catalogue for all the items we hold in our libraries but also lists all our online resources too. If you want information on resources available in your subject area take a look at the subject guides. You can also take a look at our Your Digital Library blog to get started.

“Take advantage of the free printing.”

We Say: The University offers a fair-use approach to printing, rather than charging with print credits. Find out more on the printing services webpage.

“Don’t oversleep the library orientation.”

We Say: Please don’t! But if you do please ask at the Library Point for help! Your course has probably booked you on a tour of the library in one of the first few weeks of your studies. If you miss your tour don’t worry we have two options available:

  • Take a self-guided tour, pick up a map from the reception area of Augustine House and visit our Getting Started webpage to take a self-guided library tour.
  • Book a library tour, we offer bookable catch-up tours from academic development week (w/c 23 October) onwards. You can book a tour up to two weeks in advance and choose to join a group (a great way to meet other students) or book a 1:2:1 tour if crowds aren’t your thing or you’d like to discuss any special arrangements with us. Visit our Getting Started webpage to book but remember bookings won’t be live until 9 October.

How to tackle lectures and assignments

Attend all classes. You miss a lot, if not”.

“When preparing for assignments, make sure that you have time to proofread.”

 “When working in groups, show respect to your classmates, no matter if they do or don’t agree with your ideas”

 “Don’t leave your assignments to the last day. it is not worth the stress.”

We Say: Our Learning Skills Team has created a collection of online resources to support you in taking ownership of your academic skills development. The Learning Skills Hub holds a range of modules designed to help you develop the skills you need to make your time at University a success. In the first year, your modules cover topics such as assignment planning, essay writing, time management, finding information, using LibrarySearch and much more. Why not take a look at our range of getting started modules. We have a new module on how to transition from A-Level to University study.

Feeling sad, lonely or scared is normal but you can overcome it

“The University can also help if you feel stressed. There are #stressless initiatives to help you release stress. My tutor supported me in moments of stress; be open to them. They are here to help you.”

We Say: We understand how stressful it can be at university. We run Stressless activities every Semester. Have a free massage or join us for a hot chocolate. Have a look what we did last academic year.

“When you are not feeling yourself. Take time to rest, go out, watch a movie, but go and ask for help if you need something.”

“Decorate your room/dorm in a way that makes you feel safe and comfortable. This will prevent you from feeling very homesick. You still may feel a bit homesick though.”

“Don’t rush a decision when you may just need time, for example, to adjust and settle in. If you don’t want to do uni but find it difficult, as well as talking to someone, set yourself small goals, like I did for example. Split up the semester so you are not counting down 12 weeks.”

We say: Make use of the Student Support and Wellbeing Advisers. The advisers support students in making informed decisions through one to one conversations, be it related to personal, general wellbeing, financial, housing, or academic matters.

Take a break

if I feel like I need to move, I walk around and get out of my study chair. If I feel that I get bored in the location I am in, then I switch my studying location during my break. This could be changing your library study zone after a few hours, or even taking the train to an area outside Canterbury to get away. This not only builds experiences but gives a fresh view to the place you spend the most time in when you return”

We Say: Taking breaks is very important. No one can work flat out for hours on end. Read our Ensuring you make the best use of your breaks blog for inspiration.

Find a job

Even if it is only for one day a week and you don’t need it financially. It is good to develop a sense of independence.”

We Say: Interested in finding a job? Visit the Careers and Jobs page to find out what support the Careers and Enterprise Hub and Unitemps can provide.


“The budget doesn’t need to be a stress if you plan it carefully”.

We Say: Student Support and Wellbeing Advisors can give you lots of helpful advice on how to manage a budget. Visit the cost-of-living hub to see what’s available to support you.

Stay motivated

“When I need some more motivation to study, I think of how proud I will be of myself when I complete the tasks that I want to complete.”

“A first-year student must trust himself, even if he will encounter difficulties. He must be aware of the importance of studying and he must avoid too many distractions.”

“If you are willing to learn, nobody will be able to stop you.”

“Ask yourself: ‘Have I studied enough? Am I punctual? Do you show respect to my tutor? Do I know the difference between study time and party time? Am I able to give up a party to study? Am I aware that I worked for years to be there?’. All of these questions will keep you strong.”

Get to know your new environment

“Spend the first couple of weeks learning about your surroundings like the university, the town, restaurants, entertainment, etc. This will give you confidence about being able to handle living or studying in this new place alone.”

Dane John Garden and West gate Gardens.
Take a walk through the many beautiful gardens in Canterbury.

We Say: Explore Canterbury and the beautiful surrounding countryside. A few suggestions are:

  • Get acquainted with historical Canterbury by following the Christopher Marlowe trail.
  • Take a walk along the beautiful river Stour that runs through the city by following the Great Stour Way.
  • Explore Canterbury and Swale’s ancient woodlands, there are lots of routes through Blean Woods to choose from.
  • Or simply take a stroll through the many beautiful parks in the city.

And Importantly… Have fun…

“Working hard is important but you also need to relax and have fun sometimes.”

“Make sure you have fun. University may or may not be the best 3 years of your life but you should enjoy it”

“HAVE FUN, even when University seems hard, stressful and at times like ‘it isn’t for you

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