Congratulations! You made it to this blog post, and so there's a good chance you have been accepted into the University of Bath. We're ranked 5th in the UK according to the Guardian for this academic year so you can sit back and relax - you've made it into a great Uni with brilliant staff and some of the country's brightest students and you're one of them. No pressure.
Whether you've completed IB, A levels or BTEC, Uni is probably the beginning of your adult life. You know how a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly? Well university is where you are transformed from an annoying school kid who thinks they know it all into a respectable member of society who pays their taxes, lives in the suburbs and has a Labrador. But first things first:
Arrivals Weekend & Freshers
Arrivals weekend is fast approaching and if you're like me, you're probably super excited to move into your own room and meet all your new friends, and so you should be! I arrived first thing on the Saturday which was great because I got to meet everyone as they arrived. I also got first pick of the cupboards in the kitchen. If you've seen Pitch Perfect, you may remember the scene at the start where the protagonist is arriving on campus and as she walks through there's loads of stands and cool kids and that girl moving in with about 300 teddy bears. Fully expect that to be the case when you arrive.
Don't be nervous or afraid - everyone is in the exact same boat as you.
Chances are you've already been talking to some of your flatmates and course mates on Facebook. I'd already spoken to most of my flat before I got to Bath so it's a good ice-breaker if you can make a bit of conversation, but don't worry if you don't. You won't be able to make a proper impression until you've actually spent some time with your flatmates and impressions often change over time as everyone becomes more comfortable and more like themselves anyway. And you will be closer to some flat mates than others - that's just how it works.
Rule #1 of arrivals and freshers - do things. Do everything. Get involved! There is so much to do and so many free things being given away. There should be an online Freshers' Week timetable provided by the Students' Union but it only includes the main events. You can find loads of info on Freshers week here. If you're at a loose end go and explore the campus with your new friends and you will find loads of things to do. There will be a number of opportunities to attend the Freshers' Fair. This is a great opportunity to explore all the clubs and societies that the University of Bath has to offer from sports societies to the Cheese & Wine society if that's what floats your boat. A full list of societies can be found here.
There will also be a departmental specific timetable for Freshers' Week which will include a lot of introductory sessions which are really useful in terms of getting to know more about university life. This will be made available to you online from your department. Not everything will be compulsory but everything will be worthwhile.
It's obviously an emotional time for saying goodbye to your parents who you may not see again for another 3 months but it's really important that you do make time to spend with your new friends.
You may also find some romances developing within your flat group. This is strictly prohibited among most flat groups but like all rules, it was made to be broken. It is particularly common during Freshers' Week and if it continues after this, you will often find that people refuse to put a label on it to avoid "complications" if things go wrong. If you find yourself in a flat romance, just try to keep it secret for as long as possible but don't kid yourself - people will eventually find out and they will feed off the drama like drama vampires.
Your First Week of Lectures- what to expect
Much like during school, the first class of any module will generally be an introduction to the course. Your lecturers and seminar tutors will often outline their plan for the semester and discuss the sorts of topics that you will be covering. They will also inform you as to the methods of examination and assessment - this may be written coursework; an individual or group presentation and of course, exams.
It is important to make a note of your coursework deadline in the first week and plan a time in the semester to start it because unlike school, you are not spoon fed. Your lecturer's will rarely advise you to start your coursework at any time and may not mention it again until after the deadline has passed. However, if you have any questions about it you can email them for guidance or talk to them after a lecture. They will rarely tell you what you can write but they can give you general advice to help you understand the question. They may also be able to guide you to useful resources such as library books.
These introduction lectures can be a little tedious. However, even if a lot of the information given may seem of little importance there will be key points on coursework and expectations that it will be important to take note of.
During the second week, you will dive straight into learning. Lectures are completely different from school and they're loads better. You can take your laptop to take notes and if you really want to, you can just sit on Facebook for 2 hours but this will be of no benefit to you in the long run. On one occasion during a statistics lecture, the lesson started off talking about mean, median and mode. Of course, I decided that this was a pointless exercise; opened up my Macbook and started playing that game on Sporcle where you have 15 minutes to name all the countries in the world. Bad idea. After I'd named about 87 countries and couldn't remember how to spell Kazakhstan, I reverted my attention to the board which was now filled with difficult algebraic formula which I did not understand at all.
From this day, I made a personal rule to avoid bringing my laptop to lectures. However, if you have more self discipline than I do then you may find the assistance of technology invaluable in the classroom.
To stay on track, the best thing to do is to plan a time to read through each lecture again shortly after the original. Some lecturers make a great use of a service called Panopto. This software records lectures. It has a video camera which records the lecturer but it also records the lecturer's computer monitor so you can see any powerpoints or videos they may show alongside it. This is an incredibly useful revision tool if you need to refer back to a specific lecture where you don't remember something.
To make the most of your time at university, there are 3 main web resources available to you as a student which you will use on a daily basis.
Moodle is an online portal where you can log in with your Bath ID and you will find links to all the modules in your course. Here, lecturers will put up resources for each lecture. This may include powerpoints to accompany the lecture, practice questions and answers and extra reading material that they may want you to read over. My economics lecturer always posted links to funny and interesting podcasts relevant to the lecture.
Most subjects also put online multiple choice quizzes on Moodle. These are a fantastic way to revise as they grade you each time and give you feedback on your answers, often explaining why you may have chosen the wrong answer.
Webmail is your university email address. This will become your professional email address for the next 4 years so if you apply for placements or other such things, I'd advise using this. You can view it online, and there are instructions on the University of Bath website on how to access webmail via your phone or computer's email application if you prefer using applications over the web, which is what I chose to do.
It is important to check your emails a few times every day because important information from lecturer's and heads of department will be communicated to you via this method. One girl in my flat never checked her emails and one month later realised that she'd missed meetings with her personal tutor and director of studies; vital information for coursework and also rescheduled seminars!
SAMIS is where you can go online and view a few specific pieces of information and carry out certain tasks such as viewing grades, uploading copies of your passport and also receiving important information about your university application - bursaries, scholarships and registration information.
Other Essential Advice
Last October I wrote a blog post detailing my advice to Freshers. In it I included loads of things that I experienced first hand during my first month at University. It is full of even more advice for anyone joining us at Bath this September! And of course if you have questions that aren't answered by this blog, you can post a comment and I will reply personally.
So it's time to go back to work. I'm writing this blog on A level results day and today I'm working in the admissions call centre for the university. If you've called us today with questions about your place or application there's a good chance we may have had a chat already! So good luck, and I'll see you in September!