5 things to do this summer to smash your next academic year
Annnnd it’s summer…
No really, feel that heat, its definitely summer.
The academic year is over, island hopping off the Greek coast, chilling the pool, backpacking across South East Asia- plus many more things await you. The feeling of accomplishment rushes through your body. Being a student is extremely difficult. You have to write a few essays, attend socials every week, and even wake up at 9AM sometimes.
With feeling still fresh in your mind you’re probably not thinking about the next academic year… and why would you be? I mean its hot, its sunny, there is alcohol flowing from every tap…
But what about the end of summer? As it creeps up on you, slowly the claws of despair start to set in, digging in just slightly. They dampen the fun, muffle the sound from the main stage, and bring a cloud to that bright blue sky.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. This feeling arises from not being prepared, putting of essential tasks that can be done quickly now while the sky is still blue.
So to keep those dark clouds at bay, we’ve organised some things you can do over summer to make sure you get the most out of your next year at uni. This isn’t some lecture to tell you to get a summer job or take summer school to get ahead of your peers, it’s actionable things you can do now to make next year easier and more enjoyable. It’s coming from ex-students who wished they knew what’s below. We’ve had module mayhem, house horrors, and bank accounts that resemble an abandoned cellar, but that does not mean you have to as well. If this year went perfect for you, like you don’t want to change even one thing, then don’t bother reading. But if you think maybe, just maybe, something could have improved, then keep scrolling. This year was great, but next year may just get even better.
1. Reflect and record
What did you enjoy about this year? What did you find stressful? What were the most interesting modules? What societies did you join? How much did you spend? Is there anything you regret not doing?
Write down a list of positive and negative things about your year, including your favourite modules and societies, events, and your most profound moment. Writing the list down will help imprint them in your memory, and the list is a great starting point when researching your opportunities for next year.
2. Research next years opportunities & don’t be afraid to change
Whether you are heading into second or third year your academics results now count. So you might not be able to get by skipping that Thursday 9AM lecture because you’re a broken man or woman passed out, hugging the toilet post sport social.
Its not going to help if that 9am lecture is a for a module you hate. Now we’re not saying you have to love every module you take, but you’re going to need to at least be vaguely interested in it. If you haphazardly chose your modules based solely on the number of credits they give you or which ever order they appeared on the form — then you’re gonna be setting yourself up for a rough time.
But hope is not lost
When the summer end rolls around you’ll get your new timetable, review those decisions you made. See if what you chose is what you’d actually want to learn about.
If its not, then change.
No seriously, it is better to put the effort in now than to wait till the last minute, everyone waits. Those that act now get the modules they want.
It is not difficult to make changes. I changed five modules in my first year as well as made four changes to my actual course up until second year. Just email your course department or administrator and they will help you sort it out.
If you’ve taken out a student loan, then you are in the same boat as one million students across the UK. Finances are, on average, students’ second largest stress at university (after coursework), so getting a handle on them next year will help you massively. But what can you do this summer (apart from getting a job) to improve your finances so you aren’t left in a financial black hole next year?
Generating income is a great way to improve your financial situation, if possible. If you don’t already have a summer job and want to make some extra cash, check out these quirky ways to generate extra cash from Save The Student.
You were likely never taught how to do personal finance management or tax in A-levels, but at least you know about the mitochondria inside the cell tissue of a frog right?
Creating a personal budget is easier than one might think, especially with a template from Mint.
Once you have your budget, cutting down expenses is the next task that should be on your list. During summer you have the time to go through your bank statements, pausing momentarily to tally all those 5 for £5 VK charges from your student union and message Chad to see who managed to rack up more.
When going through your statements and thinking about your expenses have a special look at the following:
Did you purchase any subscription services that you no longer need but are still paying for? Time to get your mum to sign up to Spotify… the family plan .
If you had a part time job have you reclaimed your tax?
Did you get a student discount on eligible purchases — in other words, are you using your status as a student correctly? Nearly every major store has some kind of discount for students, use and abuse it.
Hoard those vouchers (especially dominos- how else are you going to late night feast?). Or do what I did far too many times and buy a 2 for £10 large pizza deal — one for dinner and one for post night out. Nothing soaks up the alcohol better for those 9am lectures (see what we did there..).
Avoid the ol’ credit card. Banks try to lure you in with a ‘cheap’ credit card. But unless you’re godly with you financial management its a recipe for disaster. If you have to, use your interest free overdraft.
While going through your bank statement it is also a good time to asses your banking situation. Banks are trying extremely hard to on board students, as you are likely to stay with that bank for the rest of your life. They sometimes give you deals like free rail cards, Amazon Gift Cards, and NUS cards as incentives. Check the link below at Save The Student and see if it’s worth switching your bank.
A bank not mentioned below is Monzo — the online only bank that has taken a wave of millenials in the UK. It is a hassle free bank that has a range of features attractive to millenials including: ability to freeze your card through the app on a night out, segregating purchases to help you track your spending, savings and budgets pools, Apple Pay, and stress free travel.
If you find Monzo interesting you can find more at www.monzo.com .
Tip: Switching banks is actually not that hard, and you can end up with some serious benefits. It’s best to first speak to the bank you are thinking of switching to first and ask them the easiest way to switch accounts.
Tip: If you are an international student then HSBC lets you easily transfer money between your accounts in your home country and the UK with Global View.
4. Relax… Productively
This might sound like an oxymoron, but I assure you, its not. Passive productivity is a thing. We’re not asking you to read a text book or take a course. But if you’re chilling by the pool listening to music why not swap it out for podcast? Or an audio book. Just something to keep your brain ticking over. You’ll feel so much better when you turn up to your first lecture and you don’t have to wipe the metaphorical cobwebs from your brain.
The content of the things you listen to doesn’t even necessarily have to be in relation to your degree, just make sure it gets you thinking and keeps you engaged.
The Guardian even has an article on subject specific podcasts you can consult for some inspiration:
5. Connect with your housemates and organise your accommodation
This years accommodation is done. You’ve got a house — what could we be squawking on about? Well… depending on where you go to university the house situation may vary drastically. You could be smooth sailing until third term when you can casually get around to sorting out a house — in which case lucky you!
Or you could be in the other camp, where you have to pick who you are going to live with and where for the next year early on in the first term.
If you’re in this camp- then I feel for you. Exeter was like this, we had have our accommodation sorted by mid-first term or you ended up paying exorbitant prices or living far out in squalor.
If you’re a first year this is even harder, you have to make new friends, figure out if you want to spend the next year with them, discover if they have any weird habits you’d rather jump ship from all in the first few weeks….
There’s not much we can say here, other than:
If it’s not your first year and you’re regretting the decision you made early last year start looking for other people who feel the same. Time to jump ship and find some other people to live with for next year.
If it is your first year, trust your gut. But remember some of the best things come from the most random situations, the people you might hate in the first few weeks might become your best friends or vice versa. I can personally attest to the wonder of forced co-habitation and the mutation it causes to your friendships.
Now many accommodations are come furnished, with sofas, beds, and TV’s. However, don’t expect items like crockery, bedding, and ironing boards (they’re lucky extras). Check with your landlords/rental company over the summer which items are supplied with the house and make arrangements with your group to bring the rest of the items.
Below is a useful checklist from UniKitOut of items you’ll likely require during the year.
Tip — UniKitOut also offer a service that delivers useful items (kits) direct to your uni house upon arrival. This is especially helpful if you are an overseas student or do not wish to drive down to your university.
So you’re smashing summer, smashing your prep and smashing the beers by the BBQ.
What about if you want to smash your coursework next year? Essays plague all students, they stack up against you, preventing you from doing things you want to do, and leave you exhausted because you pull an all nighter to finish one the night before handing it in.
But… what if you could smash essays as well?
The Ultimate Essay Guide is the go too book that gives you practical, actionable advice on how to boss your coursework. It’s not stuffy, old or filled with meaningless waffle on what a sentences should look like. It’s full of tech, best practises, hacks and tips that make essay writing quick, productive and best of all — actually helps you get a better grade