Free at last

University and college is about so much more than studying. VICTORIA TICKLE recommends you make the most of this life opportunity…
University or college life is possibly the greatest opportunity for personal freedom that you will ever have.
“Pfft, yeah right” I bet you’re saying in your head, but my bet is that you’re only thinking of the deadlines, the 9am lectures, the financial limitations and other negative aspects of further and higher education.
However, when you put all of that aside you are left with a pretty positive list of opportunities to improve your life for you to choose from.
Most of us had the long summer and winter periods off school, but we didn’t have the freedom we now enjoy.
These days we can go where we want, do what we want and be around who we want to be around.
And in our future careers, most of us won’t be lucky enough to have these long breaks to explore new things or meet new people, so it is so important to make the most of your time now.
It’s crucial to understand that university and college is not all about studying. Getting a good grade and a worthwhile degree is important, but it should not be your only focus.
College and uni are about experience and skills as well as academic performance. Any and all skills that you acquire can be enjoyable, but can also help you in many less obvious ways. They can be applicable on your CV and depending on where life takes you can also prove to be just as significant as your academic endeavours.
The best way to begin making the most of your time at uni is to start in your first year.
First year is notorious for being the easiest of all of your years and for a lot of universities, they are a ‘practice year’ for getting to grips with uni life.
For many of us that means that your grades in first year do not count towards anything significant except for transitioning to your next year (but be sure to check with your specific course as to whether this statement applies to you or not).
A great way of getting the most out of your first year is to not go home too early when holidays come up.
This is probably your first time away from home and it is better if you stay where you are to adjust to your new surroundings.
Things will change fast around campus and it is better if you stay to experience them. It will also help to get over any homesickness you might have.
First year isn’t the only time to get involved in anything and everything. Most activities are for any students in any year, so it is never too late in your uni career to get started.
Most universities will have a Students’ Union. These offer plenty of clubs and activities and the interests vary massively so there is something for everyone and you should join at least one.
It doesn’t matter what type of activity it is; a society, a sports club or even the student media (such as the student newspaper), but it does matter that you enrol in at least one.
Most of the clubs will offer taster sessions at the beginning of each semester so you can try out something new without any financial commitment. The most important thing is to give something new a go, as well as things you think you’re already good at. Never heard of a type of activity? Then try it out!
These opportunities will be fleeting in the future, and when it’s all over you’ll want to think that you made the most out of your time at uni, instead of wishing you’d have made a small effort at some point during your course.
University is all about you. How much you are willing to put into yourself and what you want out of life. Think of university as a way of you investing in yourself academically, emotionally, financially and in every other way possible.
Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way no matter what it is.

Remember: opportunity knocks, but it doesn’t beg.