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2018-11-27

Tips for the end of your first term at university

Aaaaaand its nearly Christmas… HOLY S**T! It is already the end of November and that means only a couple weeks before first term ends and students are off on holiday. Whether it be skiing in Switzerland, traveling home for international students or simply going home to mum and dad for some mulled wine and mince pies.

If you are in first year, these past months would have been an intense induction into the life of a university student, filled with partying, socialising, societies and of course some academics.

To assess whether you have made the most of your first months and are set for next term we have compiled an end of term checklist which you can use to evaluate your involvement of university life thus far.

  1. Have you attended at least one lecture for each module? 3 points

  2. Have you attended at least one tutorial for each module? 3 points

  3. Have you made one friend/course mate in each of your modules? 5 points

  4. Have you joined at least one society? 3 points for every society joined

  5. Have you visited the library? 3 points

  6. Have you visited the university pub? 4 points

  7. Watched a university sports game? 5 points

  8. Hosted pre-drinks? 5 points

  9. Visited the most popular pub in your university town? 5 points

  10. Visited every night club in your university town? 10 points

Add up all your points and score yourself with our ranges below

0: — Why do you attend university?

1–10 : You have a lot of room for improvement. Attend some lectures, make some friends, and explore your university!

10–20 : You’re getting there, but could still get more out of university. Try going to more events and explore the rest of your town.

20–30 : Good job. You’re attending at least some of your lectures, made some friends and are experiencing university life.

30–40 : Great! You are experiencing all university has to offer. You take academics seriously but also social events. You support your university at sports games and don’t mind others in your room for pre-drinks. Keep at it!

40+ : You are the university poster child.

Important things to consider for the rest of term and the holidays

  1. Your exam week may come right after holidays. Check out our exam post to gain tips about preparing. Starting revision during quiet days (before December 25th) and then finishing in the final stretch before exam week is advisable. Cramming days before is not.

  2. If you have not already started looking for housing next year, you should really be thinking about this now. Some university towns start house hunting as early as October, so if you are in one of those cities (such as Exeter and Durham) then this should be a priority for you now.

  3. If you would like to change a module for second term, now is the chance to do it. You will likely have to head to your university department admin office and fill out the relevant form.

  4. If you’re in first year and are interested in studying abroad for one year or in industry, now is a good time to start researching. There are many possibilities to consider and the earlier you start thinking about the opportunities the better. Visit your academic department to find out more information.

  5. If you’re in university halls, sometimes they cheekily rent out the rooms for bed & breakfast during long holidays. This means you must vacate your belongings. If you are required to do so make sure you make plans to put your belongings in storage or take them home (depending on how far you live storage may be a better option). Storage companies have special deals for these situations and can accommodate the burden university halls place on students.

Society balls

If you’re in the UK any large societies you’ve joined will have their winter ball. If you’re attending make sure you have the right attire, as some are black tie. Black tie rentals, especially in university towns, require at least three days notice and supply can be limited if you don’t reserve enough in advance.

Not actual advice..

Final evaluations

This is the time most modules have their final evaluations. Most group presentations and individual essays will be due in the next two weeks. These also tend to be the evaluations that count most towards your overall grade (especially 2nd and 3rd year). If you have a group presentation check out our post on group work .

Winter Holidays

For 2018 most universities start holidays the week of December 15th and start exam week the week of January 7th. This gives you over 3 weeks away from academics…or does it?

Academics during Winter Holidays

Some modules have their final essays due during exam week. This means in addition to preparing for your exams you also have essays to write. Our best advice? Start early! As early as possible actually. When you’re back home wearing your grandma’s knitted sweater and drinking strong eggnog the last thing on your mind will be your final essays. Your mind will be nowhere near academics and starting your essays December 27th will serve to only punish you (as did the authors of the Ultimate Essay Guide ). Your term ends December 15th, a week before most professionals leave for holidays. If you use this time wisely, you could be left with minimum (or even no) work to do when the rest of your family is off. Better yet, spend the final Sunday at university in the library preparing your agenda and research. Not only will you have access to your university offline resources (if required) but will still be in the academic mindset. It’s incredible how much more productive you can be this way.

Travelling during Winter Holidays

If you’re one of the lucky students jetting somewhere warm (or cold) for your three weeks off, we all envy you. Except the day you are travelling. Airports, roads, and ports get incredibly busy during the festive season so be extra prepared if you’re planning on flying, cruising, or driving halfway across the world to catch up on your tan or ski the slopes.

Pack light and leave all unnecessary items at home. Airlines are getting stricter about baggage weight and you don’t want to be that person removing twenty layers of clothing and wearing them just to satisfy the conditions.

Should you work on the plane?

It depends. It makes sense to be productive on a seven hour flight rather than watch a bunch of movies, and many people find working on planes to be more productive without the distractions of home. If you decide to work on essays or revise on the plane, the biggest recommendation we have is to prepare for offline mode. It may not seem like a big deal, but working without the internet is very different now. You can not access your online library resources, your group chat, or Google. Unless you prepare to work without internet or are flying on a plane with wifi (which currently costs extortionate amounts), those hours you have of productivity will diminish.

If you are writing essays?

Download all materials you think you will need beforehand, and more. All journal articles, websites, and reports you are referencing should be stored in a folder on your laptop or tablet for easy access while offline. You can use the majority of plane time to write the substance of your essays, or make your plan without online distractions.

If you are revising for exams?

This can be tricky if you require lots of space to revise. Scribbled notes, highlighted textbooks, and your laptop. These all take space that Ryanair and Easyjet just don’t feel like providing in 2018, so if need more than just a laptop it’s best to leave revision until you land.

New Years Eve

If there is any night over your winter holidays you must plan far in advance, it’s New Years Eve. This is the night even the boring Boris’s and Debbie Downers make an appearance or plan something fun. Whether you are dancing the night away at a big city club, chugging pina coladas in the Caribbean, or in a hot tub at the top of a mountain, January 1st is something to celebrate. This is the day your essays will now read 2019 on the date at the top of the page rather than 2019. Due to such importance, the night of December 31st is one of the busiest of the year. If you plan to make plans the night of, you will be left disappointed. If you are spending the night in the UK, visit www.designmynight.com for available parties nationwide. If you are spending it abroad with your family, ask your hotel concierge or search the web for popular places that would interest you. Trust us, researching your New Years night is not as difficult as researching for your final essays, but much more important.

Although if you haven’t booked anything yet then you’re probably going to be out of luck. The best events sell out so quickly.

Returning to Uni

Shortly after New Years is over your holidays end, airports fill, and the parking lots outside uni houses and halls are lined with student cars. If you are one of the lucky students who does not have exams, then upon return you can relax and distract your friends that do. For the others, this time is very precious for you. The average term date for 2019 is January 8th, which means exams can start as early as that Monday. If you have had a booze infested holiday, then if you want any chance achieving a 2:1 or 1st it is critical you use this week productively. Hopefully you have listened to our tips on revision and started revising during the quiet days in December.

If you have exams and deadlines you should arrive back to uni at least four days before your first exam or two days before your deadline. That’s around January 4th for most students. This gives you enough time to print any essays, barcodes, or notes for revision. The majority of time should be spent revising. Check out our post on exams for techniques on how best to revise.

Conclusion

The end of first term is a busy and exciting time for all students, and marks the end of 2018. If you are a first year student, we hope your first term was sick and FYI it only gets better from here.

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