10 things I WISH I’d Known BEFORE Becoming a STUDENT!

Lazy, drunk, broke, naïve, overgrown school kids. That’s how the general public sees us.
This tells us one thing about the general public – they know what they’re talking about.
All of us, myself included, have been too broke or too drunk at some point (come to think of it the two might be somehow linked) and this has stopped us making the most of our time in further education.
I’m Luke Hawkins and this is my list of tips on how to avoid the pitfalls of a clichéd student lifestyle – AKA 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming a Student!

mcdonalds job

#1 You should get a JOB
Get a job you bum. There are several good reasons for this.
One: This will give you a different scene from uni/college.
Two: It will bulk up your CV for when you leave education. Three: it will alleviate debt from student loans.
So when annoying old people tut at you for being a student and talk about you getting a job in the “real world” you can let Morpheus over there know that you’re already through the looking glass.
And when others are crawling – starving and sober – towards their next SAAS payment you can lord it over them with your extravagant minimum wage pay package.

angry man

#2 Venting is HEALTHY
As much as student life looks ideal from the outside – lots of lie-ins, lots of discounts etc, it can get pretty stressful juggling so many different aspect of your life all at once. That’s especially true when so much money is going towards what you hope will be a valuable qualification.
With that in mind, vent all you want. Blow up. Just make sure you’re venting TO people and not AT people.
Let people know you’re stressed and quite often they’ll do something to help out – cover a shift, give you a bit of tutoring, allow you to have time to yourself.
It’s also worth mentioning that even though the nature of venting is that you’ll be rambling and not making much sense for most of it – make sure you don’t say or do anything permanent.
The stress will pass. I promise you.


#3 Organisation can SAVE you
As soon as the ever-changing timetables come barrelling into your life your usual eating/sleeping/working/socialising routine will be obliterated. If, however, you get your geek on and start making lists, setting reminders and filling out calendars then you can keep yourself on track.
Embrace your inner nerd and do your work as soon as it’s assigned – if there is a build-up then write a list.There is nothing more satisfying than being able to score out or tick of items on a list as you work your way towards a work free weekend.
Keeping on top of everything, or at least knowing what there is you need to keep on top of, will leave you with enough time to do whatever else you need to do – including procrastinate.
Believe me, I know.


#4 You’ll Be on an Independent Learning Curve
No lecturer will be holding your hand throughout the duration of your time at uni/college and to be fair I doubt any of you would want that to be the case. What that does mean, though, is that you will be responsible for the amount of work you put in, the amount of classes you attend and the amount of research you conduct.
If self-motivation and self-restraint aren’t your strong points then this will be your learning curve – your opportunity to show you can listen to the angel on one shoulder while ignoring the devil on the other.
Having said that, if your lecturer utters the phrase, “I’m encouraging you to conduct some independent learning,” then that can sometimes be lecturer speak for, “I can’t be bothered teaching right now,” or “I do not know the answer to your question.”
Only you can decide.


#5 Campus is a MAZE
I SUCK at reading timetables and unfortunately for me, my college sucks at updating timetables.
That means I spend a lot of time walking round in circles and up and down stairs in buildings that have apparently been designed by Mc Escher.
Your best tools for this situation are a helpful classmate in the class groupchat and good cardio.

no buses

#6 COMMUTING is at Least Half the Battle
With classes as sporadic as they are, you’ll spend a lot of time going back and forth. Or in some students’ cases, they won’t. In terms of pass marks it is worth it – some classes even awarding marks just for showing up. In terms of money and convenience however, it’s difficult to say that it’s worth it.
Your buses will be late or break down or just decide not to exist and your train fares will be extortionate.

students in park

#7 Everything is on Your DOORSTEP…Make the Most of it!
Within your campus you will find industry standard hardware and software. This is stuff that can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds. You get to use it for free and without registering or signing any contracts. If you make the most of these tools for your coursework you will be able to produce work that is at a much higher level (read: professional level) than what you would be able to create sat at home.
You could also luck out and have a lecturer that will be able to teach you how to utilise these tools. Outside of the educational walls you will likely find a large town or city. This will be home to the busiest and best bars and restaurants – give them a try. It is also where you will be able to find parks, pubs, clubs, fairs, exhibitions, musicians, artists, hideaways, hangouts and hidden gems. Go explore!


#8 NETWORKING Doesn’t have to be Official & Awkward
No matter what course you’re on, you’ll be encouraged to discover and improve your communication skills and to work on “networking”. To me “networking,” as a phrase was always down there with, “blue sky thinking” and “edginess,” in terms of crappy business lingo.
But if you don’t think of it in those terms and actually just put “networking” into practice, you quickly realise that the most effective “networking” you’ll do will be bumping into people at bars or meeting a friend of a friend.
To coin another crappy business phrase, not every industry is, “dog eat dog”.
Collaboration can be a beautiful thing.

students socialising

#9 Mix Work & PLAY
Having talked about networking and the downside of commuting, this is an important one.
If you want to look forward to going into study then make sure there’s a short-term reward in it for you.
I’m not saying get yourself into debt via retail therapy or drinking yourself stupid; but why not arrange to go for drinks with classmates after class or meet your friends in town?
It will mean it won’t be such a trudge to those less-fancied lectures. There is a reason campuses have cafes in them and unions have bars in them – have fun, chill out, talk, socialise, make the most of free time and space and you could end up meeting some interesting folks.


#10 EMBRACE the Extra-Curricular
You’ll likely see plenty of graduates take to social media to breakdown about how they’ve gone through further education, built up debt and how, now that they have graduated, no one is willing to give them a job.
There’s no sure-fire way to avoid being in this position but some extra curricular work can make all the difference.
What your further education gives you is a certificate that lets people know you can work and study to a certain level and that you have a good knowledge of the industry. What the extra curricular stuff (work experience, relevant part time job, volunteering, short-term courses) does is it gives you experience and shows initiative and willingness to work and all those other catchphrases you hear people say in interviews.