Getting started at Kent: tackling the first year

University of Kent students studyingYour first year at university will test you socially, academically and emotionally. The following nine key pieces of advice will help you to tackling your first year and succeed.

  1. Manage your time accordingly – the university experience is one where you need to make sure you have the correct mix of academic, social and employability activities, therefore time management is absolutely essential to performance. It is easy to commit to too many activities in your first year and become overloaded with commitments outside of your academic study, and that is the main reason for coming to Kent, therefore ensure that you don’t double-book yourself or commit to too many activities.
  1. Do the reading set out for you – the literature and reading set by academic staff contains all of the essential information you need to pass assignments and exams and also further your knowledge of the subject and keep it interesting.
  1. Attend lectures and seminars – the single best piece of advice for your first year. Attending lectures and seminars will allow you all of the key insight, knowledge and case studies in order to succeed on your course. The 9am lectures may be absolute torture to get up for but they have a huge impact on your success. Attending lectures also will allow you to meet and interact with peers on your course which can be extremely valuable when in group work or discussing assignments.
  1. Get involved in as much as possible– in order to avoid missing out on any experiences ensure that you commit and get involved with as much as possible during your 1st year, the extra-curricular activities are where you will form many friendships which you will carry through university and potentially throughout life.
  1. Prioritise deadlines– ensure that you commit to deadlines ahead of schedule to allow you plenty of time to do all of the reading and complete the work set out by academic staff. Prioritising deadlines is essential to good time management and will help you to make the most of your time outside of studying, as ensuring work is completed ahead of deadlines will ease the stress and pressure of your first year, and allow you to study in-between deadlines to ensure maximum performance.
  1. Take plenty of smart notes – when in a lecture or seminar, ensure that you take notes, as these will be extremely handy to help you understand what the lecturer was discussing. However, make sure that the notes that you do take are neat, and able to be comprehended when out of the lecture, as there is nothing worse than writing non-stop for two hours and then not knowing what referred to which slide… Furthermore, ensure that you print slides off before entering the lecture or seminar, in order to be able to take notes on each specific slide, that way you can file these and come back to them at the end of term for exams or revision, or to help with future essays.
  1. Ask questions – it can be daunting asking questions to academic staff, however they are extremely open to anyone asking them any question on the material and are always at the end of an email for their students, or you can meet them during office hours. All academic staff value students asking them questions on the content they teach and are all very welcoming to students.
  1. Plan ahead – the Wednesday session in Venue or Club Chemistry may seem like an absolutely marvellous idea at the time, however think ahead to the next day. If you have a 9am lecture and an essay due, make sure that you spend your time effectively and are prepared for the day ahead of you, that way you’ll have plenty to celebrate when you have finished your deadline.
  1. Revise ahead of schedule – all of your academic staff will consistently tell you that you need to make sure that you revise with plenty of time to spare, and this is absolutely critical! If you leave your revision to the last minute this will cause you an immense amount of stress and is less effective than studying little and often. Studying regularly and ahead of exams will allow you to focus hard on specific topics nearer exams and be as prepared as possible!

By Oliver Daws, current Kent student