Thursday, 4 September 2014

Back to Uni : The Basics

This month I am starting my final year in my second course at University. And I am terrified.

So what better way to initiate all you young kids into the fun yet terrifying world of university by giving you my guide to what you need for uni from the basics of supplies and books, to study tips and how to get the most out of your time at university.

First up is the basics...

Now I will always be the first to admit that I am a bit crazy about stationery despite not really being all that organised!  I have gotten a lot better as I've gotten older as I now feel that I have to write everything down whereas previously I would 'always remember it'...yeah right!


The first thing that you need for university is some sort of planner whether you are lucky enough to be given an academic diary by your university at the start of the year or you go out and buy your own one.
Personally, I am a big fan of the Filofax as it's something you can customise with whatever size, colour or finish you want and you can switch up your inserts for week to one page, week on 2 pages, day to a page or even a day on two pages if you feel the need for that much space.  I own the Original in Fluro Pink purely because I like pink.  You can see my previous (smaller) filofax ***here***. I decided to get the A5 version of this organiser because I started to feel that one day per page in the personal size was too much space and the week on two pages layout wasn't enough, so I now have the A5 size with one week on two pages which I feel works much better for me...but enough about my filofax!
Planners are great because you will constantly be getting reading or work of some sort to do at home whilst at university.  Just because you aren't at school anymore doesn't mean you don't get homework anymore!  But the biggest reason that I feel is good to have a planner is to be able to time manage well.  Being strict about your study time means that you will have a much better social time at university...especially if you are living away from home.  Get all your work done during the day (including housework people!) and you will have all night to go hang out with your friends and meet new people.


Ahhhh the feel of a pretty notebook in my hand is something of a delight...I have far too many of them and I never seem to fill them because I am buying new ones constantly - none of those are for schoolwork unfortunately.
For class notes I like to use the basic wide ruled refill pads that you can buy from any stationery store you want and they are on offer at the start of every term so stock up on them like theres no tomorrow because you'll be amazed at how many you go through.  The reason I like to use these for class notes as opposed to a cute jotter is that I can scribble all over them and rip out pages without feeling guilty for spending £5 on a really cute notebook that is full of jibberish.
The cute jotters and notebooks I use for my final study notes where I make sense of whatever I have scribbled down in class along with my reading and lecture slides.  I'll go into more detail about my study notes later in the series.

Pens, Pencils and Assorted Junk

Pens you will definitely need and make sure you have at least three with you on a daily basis when you are at class because someone will borrow your pen and you will never see it again (this point also applies well to those who are studying any sort of medical or nursing course...those things are gold-dust).  Rollerballs are the obvious choice as they tend to be quite smooth writers but I like to use a slightly fancier handwriting pen for my final notes just because I think it looks nicer.
Pencils are useful for highlighting passages from library books - some universities may charge you for damage if you use pen or highlighters in the library textbooks.
Highlighters are great for any research papers you have to read so you can highlight key points, or even to highlight parts of books that you have bought.  They are also really useful for your study notes aswell.
Assorted junk includes a stapler (yes you will need one), paperclips (I use them to group articles and research papers by topic), rulers (come in handy for fancy diagrams and tables) and post-it notes (LOVE LOVE LOVE - actually the best invention ever! I use these for studying which I'll also get into at a later date.)

Computer or Laptop
I know the majority of students nowadays will own a computer or laptop already but they are probably the single most important thing you need when at university.
If your university is anything like mine then all your lecture slides will be on a student intranet of some sort that you will be able to access from home as well as in university.  As a way of trying to save on printing them all out I tend to have a look through the slides the night before the lecture if the tutor is well prepared of course, and save them onto my hard drive (also a great investment for saving your coursework, essays, articles and research papers onto because you will inevitably need them later if you throw them out).  Your laptop is also super handy to take to university if your tutor is big on group work so it means you don't all have to crowd around one computer in the quietest libraries on earth.

My course at university is 50% theory and 50% clinical practice so I tend to only have one theory module at a time instead of multiple.  For this reason I have one big ringbinder that I use for all my loose notes and any handouts for that particular year.  If you have the standard course that involves about four classes per term I would suggest having one binder per subject that is colour coded with your study notes jotter, as well as one large binder that your handouts and notes can be put into at the end of the term.  You can then reuse the same four binders for the next term and only have to buy matching jotters for your next classes.

This is something that at the start of a new school year I hear all the freshers moaning about how expensive all the text books are.  I made this mistake when I was at university the first time around and found I barely used most of the books I purchased.  I am now about to start my third and final year of midwifery training and I have bought a grand total of FOUR textbooks.

If you can, try and speak to your personal tutor early on and see what core textbooks they recommend which will see you through your whole course and maybe even into your future career of choice.  Your university library will have multiple copies of the main text books so there's no need to go overboard in bookstores.  You can also get really cheap used copies of textbooks on gumtree, amazon and gumtree.  Second editions of textbooks tend to not have much difference from the first edition so you don't really need the newest version unless it's the eleventh edition or something crazy.

Hope those of you who are starting university soon found this helpful!  Do you have any tips about what to buy for university?

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