I’m sure a lot of first years who may be reading this are feeling a little bit confused about what they have gotten themselves into, I know I was 2 years ago, and I’m not just talking about a reaction to the alcohol consumption from Freshers. This is a perfectly normal reaction to being thrown in at the deep end of a university degree and the different methods of teaching compared to A levels (or equivalent) at 6th form or college.
To be fair the university tries to make the first week or so relatively easy with lectures typically being an introduction to the module but there is still the fun part of trying to find all your lecture and seminar venues, getting to know people, meeting your personal tutor and in some schools choosing your options. To combat this here are a few suggestions:
1. Teaching – university lectures are very different from A levels in that there are no books to copy work from, it is a case of writing down the key points of the lecture and then writing it up and reading around to ensure you understand the topic. Some lecturers will let you record their lectures using a dictaphone but ask first, and the student’s union is working on an initiative so all lectures are recorded. In the mean time practice writing notes eg from the news or if there are lecture notes on Blackboard have a look at them before the lecture to give you a heads-up on the topics covered.
2. Friends – you will soon develop friendship groups in your course, these may be based around your seminar groups, if you have a course based society then this is a great way to meet people, or often you will find someone who lives in your halls of residence. You will all be feeling the same way, it just takes one person to go and say hi and it’s all good.
3. Personal tutors – everyone will have an allocated personal tutor, there may also be a head tutor for the school to see if your tutor isn’t available. Personal tutors will answer any questions you may have about the course, write you references, help with problems such as extenuating circumstances – find out who yours is and make friends with them.
4. Locations – if you have a spare block of an hour or two then go for a walk and explore the buildings, most of them have signs up to the main lecture theatres or just ask the staff at the coffee shop or reception.
5. Higher years – optometry is quite a small course so all know each other really well but may also be the case with other schools that you have buddies who are 2nd or 3rd years who have been through it all before and can help you with any questions you may have. This will depend on the relative size of your school but won’t do any harm to ask.
Hope this breaks through some of the confusion.