As Freshers’ week is fast approaching, I’ve taken on the job of informing you, our new cohort of freshers, of the truth behind many myths about University life!
‘During freshers’ week, you have to drink loads and go to every event!’
At the beginning of freshers’ week, of course, at any University many people do drink. However, there is no pressure to drink in order to make friends. Everyone is very social and willing to meet new people at any point during freshers’ week! Whether you drink or not, have fun and meet as many people as you can!
Although nights out are arranged for you within the first two weeks of freshers’ week, you are welcome to have quiet nights in if that’s not your thing. I can assure you that your hall committee organising freshers’ week will ensure that there are non-alcoholic drinks available as well as making everyone as comfortable as possible with no pressure at all to do anything! You attend as many or as little as you are comfortable with. You’ll have fresher helpers and committee around with you 24/7 for the first two weeks!
There are also events organised in the daytime every week, such as RAG colour dashes, or the Sports and Societies Bazaars. As well as sober nights arranged in every hall. Personally, the majority of my friendships were created within my halls as we were together having fun all the time- drinking together or not! Logically, you do meet more people the more events you attend. Remember that Loughborough has the Best Student Experience in the country (Times Higher Education), so you’ll probably have a wonderful time whatever you choose to do.
The advice I would give is to not compare your first few weeks of uni with your home friends. Just because they’ve made 10 best friends on the first day doesn’t mean they won’t irritate each other within a week. Likewise, struggling to make friends on the first day doesn’t mean you’ll have no friends for the duration of uni. Try to go into the experience with an open mind. Everyone’s experiences are so different and the accumulation of all these different stories are what makes university so great!
‘A degree is so much harder than A-level!’
Many people think that since university is the next level of education, it must be a big step up, similar to the leap from GCSE to A-level. However, hopefully, you are now focussing on the subject you love most, which you may want to go into for life. Therefore, being passionate about a subject tends to make it seem less hard and more enjoyable. I don’t know about you, but I found A-levels really traumatic, so for me, anything that wasn’t A-levels was going to be less stressful.
The main difference from A-level to your degree is the amount of independence. If you don’t do the reading, you only have yourself to blame. However, your grade will show this. Independent learning is different for everyone and it took me a while to get into the groove. You won’t be spoon-fed to do your homework or put your hand up, but you definitely get a lot more enjoyment from the learning if you do. Despite this independence, there is a lot of support and it’s very easy to talk to your personal tutor, peer mentor (a second or third year allocated to you in first year to have someone that’s been through it before), course mates or seminar leader.
‘You need to buy every coursebook!’
This is not true and please don’t do this! Many textbooks are incredibly expensive and if you’re on a course such as English like me which is very book based, you could need to read up to 12 books per module! At Loughborough, Pilkington Library will be your go-to for books. You can borrow most textbooks or books on your course, and visit Charlie, our library cat while you’re there. You can also buy books from students who are in the years above you. Not to mention there are often online resources on our online forum, Learn. This is also a lot greener than buying new!
‘First-year doesn’t count!’
Have fun by all means, but you must get at least 40% to pass. Also, if you want to do a placement year, employers will consider your first-year grades as predictive of your second- and third-year results since they reflect your hard work. First-year is the foundation for your degree throughout your course which definitely does count! Good habits are made early so getting your work in on time and to a good quality to which you can be proud of sets the tone for the rest of your degree. It also allows you to see how much room there is to get great marks as well as enjoying extracurricular activities! First-year acts as a baseline level of knowledge for the rest of your degree as the modules will get referred to throughout your course.
‘I’ve been to one lecture and I hate my course! University isn’t for me!’
You need to give yourself time to settle into a routine. There are roughly 50,000 courses in the UK, from the Romance language to Leather studies. You will find your fit. Besides that, don’t let your first week of uni reflect the rest of your time. My first week was spent with some people I never spoke to again! My second year was spent with people I’d met that year. Uni is what you make it!
Be fair to yourself, you’re probably dealing with lots of changes in your life! Sometimes it takes a while time to get into the groove, meet the right people and come around to the university style of learning.
‘You must get a self-catered en-suite! There’s no other way to live!’
Another myth about uni life! As someone who spent their first year of university with a roommate, I can tell you this is not true. The shared bathroom accommodations are cleaned every day which means less effort on your part as well as greater hygiene! Additionally, catered halls can be a lot more cost-efficient as well, offering a diverse dietary range that really is less stressful than cooking for yourself every day. It can also be more social when you’re sitting next to people in your hall every day.
If you really are in a sticky situation with your accommodation, remember that it’s for less than a year, and next year you can choose a house, rent a flat alone, return to halls- the choice is yours! If you really are struggling, you can get on a reserve list. I was on one when I started since I wasn’t sure about having a roommate. But I made friends so quickly that I removed myself from it, despite the room not being what I had originally envisioned. Your expectations of your uni life shouldn’t ruin reality. To be honest, it’s the people that make your university experience. I lived with my flatmates second-year and we’re still the best of friends. You’ll quickly forget about your dream of an en-suite deluxe room in favour of the funny memories that the shared bathroom or catered hall or roommates created for you!
‘Go home to get your mum to do your laundry’
If you want to go and see your family, don’t bring your washing! Do it yourself in the launderettes on campus. Anyway, travelling is very affordable from Loughborough, especially with a 16-25 railcard, a train to London is roughly £15 if booked in advance. Megabus will also become your best friend, you can sometimes go to London for £3!
‘Loughborough is in the middle of nowhere!’
Speaking of travel, the myth that Loughborough is a boring town couldn’t be more wrong! We are in between Nottingham and Leicester. There’s always plenty going on at the Students’ Union. We are just over an hour from London. We are an hour from Birmingham. We have a vibrant community in Loughborough, on and off-campus!
‘Uni’s too expensive!’
Going to university can be expensive, with going out, accommodation, and most probably learning how to budget for the first time. Financing university can be difficult, and many people struggle with it but there is always help available through Student Services. Most universities including Loughborough offer bursaries for many situations.
If you are worried about loans in general, your tuition fee and maintenance loan repayment comes out of your payroll once you start earning over £21k. There’s more about this on the Student Finance website.
Budgeting at uni is key to managing financial worries. Most people don’t receive a huge loan they can live off of and many don’t receive parental help. There are many cost-efficient things you can do such as cooking with your housemates and making a big one pot meal. Here are some recipes our student bloggers made for under £5!
Don’t go straight into your overdraft because this is the first time you’ve had a large amount of money in your account. Try to save it for necessities but also allow yourself to have a little fun.
If you need a job once you get to uni, many larger companies could offer you a job in a local branch if they have one in Loughborough as well as at home, which could be ideal. Plus, there are many jobs available in Loughborough since we have such a vibrant town! Not to mention you could get a job on campus, for example in a shop, as a student ambassador or even as a blogger (hint hint ;)).
These jobs look great on your CV, show you can balance studying and working, and you can even embellish this with volunteering opportunities. Once you get your foot in the door, so many more opportunities come your way!
‘Loughborough is for sporty people!’
Although Loughborough University is the first in the world for sports-related subjects and thus known for its sports programs and courses, there is much more to Loughborough life than this. If you like sport but don’t think you’re that good, then you can try out at different levels to see where you place! Loughborough has different systems for recreational sports, club sports, hall sports and performance sports, so anyone is welcome.
I can hand on heart say I don’t really like sports. I have felt no pressure to get involved, but if I wanted to, the opportunities were there, like UV badminton and other fun events. There are also free recreational events on at all times through My Lifestyle.
If sports really aren’t your thing, then societies may be! Finding like-minded people who also love Stage or Hot Air ballooning will be your happy place. We also have volunteering opportunities through Rag and Action, as well as Media and Enterprise to get involved in! You can easily find your home away from home no matter where it may be.
‘You’ll get freshers’ flu!!’
This one is most probably true. Although my flatmate and I still attended all the events, even with fractured ribs from coughing so hard 🙂 The Uni has a blog post about surviving the dreaded freshers’ flu. Look after yourselves freshers!
To conclude, everyone will be in the same boat as you, nervous and keen to impress, so just be yourself and enjoy your experience as best you can. You’ll miss the adrenaline and excitement for years afterwards! Uni might be your first major step leaving the family home and becoming a fully-fledged adult in the outside world, it’s a place where you develop your own ideas and selfhood, whatever that means for you- throw yourself into each opportunity. Uni embraces all people, from all cultures and backgrounds- every voice counts here.
That’s it from me! Good luck freshers, these are the best years of your lives! See you in our lovely Loughborough soon!