As we approach A Level results day, I thought it might be helpful to hear a few tips about starting first year from someone who has just completed it. The last year has gone SO quickly and it only feels like yesterday that I was up at 6am refreshing the UCAS page every 5 minutes.
1. Don't panic if your results aren't what you were hoping for
Despite what you might think, it's not the end of the world! I was a grade short of my offer at Bath, but luckily they accepted me anyway. And if not, there are always other options, such as going through clearing or exam appeals - the UCAS website has loads of advice on this.
2. Think about money - ideally before you arrive!
You'd be surprised how many people in my flat turned up to Fresher's Week having not sorted out their student loan! University can be an expensive few years so it's important to plan your finances before you arrive. Everyone is eligible for a tuition fee loan (paid straight to the university) and a maintenance loan to cover living costs (the amount for this varies depending on how much your family earns). Universities also offer individual scholarships - I receive one of Bath's Gold Scholarships, which gives me £5000 a year alongside a programme of mentoring, skills training and other activities to help me make the most out of my time here.
3. Make the most of Fresher's Week
Each day has a variety of events and activities for you to join in with, and most of them are free. It's the best time to try a new sport or society - Bath has 50 sports clubs and almost 100 societies so there is 100% something for everyone; have a look at the SU Bath website for more info about what's on offer. There are also club nights each evening with some kind of fancy dress theme, like safari, neon, toga night - personally I'm not a big fan of partying and drinking, but the whole atmosphere was really great. And if you don't want to join in with that, there are plenty of non-drinking alternatives... I'm on the committee for the Baking Society, for example, and we'll be hosting a screening of the Great British Bake Off!
4. Do some volunteering
Bath has so many opportunities for volunteering, there's something for everyone to be involved in. As part of my scholarship programme I have to do 50 hours of volunteering each year - last year I painted a primary school classroom, helped out my local Healthwatch charity, did a beach clean and participated in various other ventures. It feels great to do something to help out others, as well as learning new skills for yourself.
5. First year doesn't count
I'm studying pharmacy, and I'm not kidding when I say the step up from A Level is insane. Uni is hard! But, as important as it is to learn and do well in your exams, your results in first year don't count towards your degree as a whole. Take advantage of this - make the most of your first year and enjoy it as much as you can!
Good luck to everyone waiting for results - I'm sure you'll smash it! And if not, remember tip #1...