5 things I learnt 5 years ago
Hi, my name’s Rosie and this summer it was exactly 5 years since I graduated from Loughborough University.
As I watched my graduation photos pop up on my Facebook memories, I was reminded of a day so full of happiness at all the amazing things I’d done and achieved, but also sadness that it was over (although I was lucky enough to be able to stick around for one more year as an exec member at LSU!). Leaving somewhere you’ve made your home is never easy, but I soon came to realise that my time at Loughborough had set me up for the big wide world, ready to take on anything. I am now working as the Student Engagement Manager at the University of Northampton Students’ Union, so it really is the work I did in Loughborough that started me down this path.
So, I wanted to pull out my top five things five tips for new (and existing!) students to help you get the most out of your time at Loughborough.
1. It’s not just about your degree
You hear it time and time again but it’s true – University isn’t just about studying. Make time to get involved in the hundreds of opportunities available to you. Whether that is joining a society or sports team, doing a volunteering project or getting involved in your hall. It was all the extra-curricular things I did that got me to where I am now, and without them I would never have found my passion. University gives you the opportunity to try so many new things (and often at a reduced cost!) now is the time to give it a go!
2. But it is also about your degree
Now you’ve signed up for lots of fun extra activities, you might find yourself stretched for time and wondering why there aren’t more hours in the day. Deciding what was most important to me and how to effectively prioritise and schedule my time was one of my biggest lessons from University. Find something that works for you and makes you focus on the task at hand. Remember the other things will be there when your assignment is done. Missing one night out or one society session won’t be the end of the world.
3. Seize every opportunity
Sometimes things can present themselves to you and seemingly come out of nowhere. I was once told ‘Say yes and work out how later’ and taking that advice led me to be involved in so many amazing things. One particular opportunity was volunteering at the Action Soup Kitchen. I was invited along by one of our fresher helpers and initially the thought of giving up my Sunday seemed unappealing, and I was already wondering how I would fit another thing in. But after weeks of meeting the service users and getting involved I found I could work out a way to balance my time and applied to be a project leader (a role I continued through my time at University). It led to me being involved in countless other projects and roles in the section and eventually leading it myself as the Action Chair! I always wonder how different my University experience might have been if I hadn’t said yes to getting involved!
4. You don’t have to do it alone
There will be tough times and as well as the amazing people you will meet there are so many other ways to seek support. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with all the services in the University and Students’ Union before you need to seek support. That way you can save yourself a lot of worry and upset. Asking for help is always the first step and you’re already half way there if you know what, where and who you need to ask!
Give something back
The University and its community will give so much to you and there are countless ways to volunteer to support other students and give something back to them too. Become a course rep, hall committee member, a member of a society or sports committee, or undertake one of hundreds of other volunteer roles. Remember that paid opportunities to help exist too! Become a student ambassador, work in the union bar or café or find something else on campus. The possibilities really are endless. You can help make the student experience better for all of those around you get so much yourself from giving something back.
It may be a long time since I was a fresher but now still working in the HE sector I get to support students going through the same incredible journey that I went on. Sometimes I think about my time at Loughborough and wonder what I would change and honestly… nothing. It gave me more opportunities than I could ever list and made me the person I am today.
Make the most of it and all it can offer you and it really will set you up for the rest of you life!
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