Having just finished my first year at university, I’m now thinking a lot about what second year holds. But, while looking forward, I think it’s important to also look back on my first year. So, here’s my experience with transitioning from first to second year at university. 

First Year

What I was worried about? 

On my first day, I felt very out of my depth. When everyone was talking about their previous work and education experience, I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be there and that I paled in comparison – this obviously wasn’t true!

With some encouragement from my course leaders, I realised that, with the right amount of effort and drive, I could be better than I’d ever fathomed and achieve just as much as everyone who already had experience. 

What I’ve learned? 

I’m lucky that I was able to manage the workload for first year very effectively, which meant that I had lots of time to focus on myself and my personal growth across year one. Even if I did waste a lot of time, I now know myself and have a much better grasp on what I want from life and university than before. Though my time at university was cut short, I know that I’m able to go back in September with a clean slate and start laying the foundations for the good habits that were missing first year. Also, nobody could have emphasised how crucial money management was – that was something I needed to experience first hand to change. 

How do I feel about moving into second year? 

The first year has gone so quickly, I’m absolutely shocked.

I don’t really know where time has gone, but I’m ready for another challenge and to learn more about my subject. 

I’ve got a couple of friends who have already gone through second year so they’ve been giving me some advice so that calms my nerves a little, but, above all else, I’m looking forward to whatever this year holds. 

Some of my second year friends’ top tips: 

  • Start working towards assignments as soon as they’re set: if you have an end question/assignment to work towards, write it on the front page of a notebook and make notes during lectures relating to your topic. This’ll make revising a lot easier too! 
  • Do extra reading: even if you made it through first year without putting in too much extra work, it’s important to give yourself the upper hand by reading around the subject. With such an expansive library and often extensive reading lists, you’ll be able to learn something new everyday. 
  • Remember to take time for yourself: if you’re feeling overwhelmed or swamped by work, it’s okay to take some time out and have a break. Celebrate your victories but also your losses – donuts are a great way to do this! 

Second Year

What I’m Nervous/Excited About? 

I’ve got some incredible modules coming up this year which I’m really excited about. I’ve hopefully got a residential field trip and work-based learning module this year, and will have lots of opportunities to join societies and try new things. I’m hoping to work abroad, work on lots of exciting projects and spend more time with my friends than I did in first year, now that I realise how important they are to me. I’m also excited to move into my new house and learn more – both personally and academically (hopefully my timetable won’t clash this year so I can do a language module!).  

I’m a bit worried about the work load this year, but know that I’ll be able to manage it all if I’m conscientious and keep working hard.

There’s also the fear that the budget plan I’ve been working on will fall through, but I’ve got a goal (a foreign work visa!) to work towards so that’ll help to keep me in check. 

Some of My Top Tips: 

  • Choose modules that make you excited! And then start doing some reading for those modules before the year begins. 
  • Find a balance between end-of-year excitement and starting-a-new-year worry – don’t get too complacent but, equally, don’t get too stressed! 
  • Identify the things you didn’t love about first year and ways to change them for second – as mentioned again and again, I wasn’t happy with my money management, so I’m making a conscious effort to be more careful. The great thing about going into second year is that if you don’t manage to achieve everything you want to, you’ve still got another year to action your dreams.