5 things I wish I knew before I started University

I’m in my second year here at the University of Essex and my time here so far has been a complete whirlwind for me! I’ve become involved in loads of fun stuff and I definitely feel like I’ve grown as a person since coming to University.

However, there are a few simple things which I wish that I did differently when I first started! Here they are, so you don’t make the same mistakes as I did!


  1. Learn how to reference stuff properly!

I have finished countless essays, thinking that I was completely done, until realising that I hadn’t referenced any of the books I’d read. I then found that finding the references from the book I had read was almost impossible! Furthermore, actually writing down these references in the correct style in the footnotes of an essay can also take a long time. At times, referencing was nearly more challenging than the actual essay!

But, as soon as I did my references as I went along and recorded them correctly, it made referencing so much easier and simpler to do.

At University, lecturers expect you to get used to a specific style of referencing quickly and stick to it throughout your degree. If you don’t, then it’s likely that you’ll lose marks.

Note: This style may change from department to department, so be sure to check you’re departmental guide for more information.


  1. Don’t stay up all night to do a piece of work due in the next day!

Whatever you do, try and be organised, so that you finish a piece of work at least a day or so before the deadline! There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to stay up and consuming copious amounts of energy drinks to finish a piece of work off by 10 am the next morning. It might seem like a good idea, but it’s really not! You lose so much sleep from doing this and it will mess up your sleeping pattern for a number of days afterwards, not to mention that your grades will suffer as a result.

It’s only necessary if you think it’s necessary; this can easily be prevented from a bit of planning and learning not to procrastinate.


  1. Go with the flow!

Some of the best times I have had  at university have been those spontaneous moments, where me and my friends have just thought of something out of nowhere and gone for it! Similarly, I feel like I have missed out on a lot of stuff by sticking to my plans too much!

Therefore, I would say that wherever you can, just go with the flow and see where it takes you!


  1. It’s fine to be overwhelmed

During the first few weeks, it can feel like you are stepping into a world where everything is happening and you have no idea where you fit into it all! With a myriad of opportunities on your doorstep, it’s often difficult to choose what to choose and what to do next.

You’ll probably end up getting extremely overwhelmed with all of the stuff that is available and that’s absolutely fine! I remember feeling very overwhelmed with everything when I came to University and then getting worried that I wasn’t taking advantage of everything. Trust me, you’ll get there!

Consequently, I would say that being overwhelmed is a great place to be at the start of University! Just make sure you have at least a few minutes to yourself everyday to think through everything and chill out away from all of the madness!

  1. Sometimes, life at uni can be based purely on luck

Unfortunately, some things at University are simply out of your control! Who  you live with at the start of your course is down to complete luck and this will probably influence your University experience and who you live with throughout the rest of your degree.

What you get involved in often comes down to when you’re free. For example, you probably won’t choose to be a part of the University’s Basketball team if their sessions clash with your lectures. It’s likely that you’ll choose something that fits around your timetable. I wanted to get involved in a lot of things, but I wasn’t able to because I was busy and I had to prioritise.


The thing with this is just to deal with what happens and see what happens. You’ll have to accept that you can’t influence or change everything!

However, whatever happens then it will probably turn out for the better; it usually does!


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