First Year Counts:
– post by Gurkirit Thiara
YOUR FIRST YEAR COUNTS towards a lot more than you think, regardless of whether it goes towards your final mark or not. Before the economic meltdown occurred, in most cases it didn’t matter what you got in your first year, if you had done well overall that was enough and eventually you would get hired. That is no longer the case.
Enjoying your years at university is important. As October comes around you start to settle in and you want to make the most of university life. Whether you live in halls or at home, you start to appreciate for the first time you are truly independent. No-one at university will tell you to get out of bed or to do your work. You are FREE!
The majority of people I met at university were ambitious and always started out with good intentions. However, soon they found it difficult to keep motivated – this came at a cost. A reoccurring problem is the end of year cramming session. Essentially you try to learn a years’ worth of work in a month. As a result, some of you may pass and some may re-sit, but hopefully you make it into your second year. It is in your second year that you are hit with the reality that you have made a fundamental mistake.
Every degree is different in the level of work required but they all have the same end goal, you want a job from it. The problem lies in the recruitment process that many businesses operate. For example, within law firms it is common for them to pick off the best students in their second year. The reason businesses like to start early is because a young undergraduate, who they believe will excel, can ultimately be moulded into their business.
Clearly, for the lucky ones to be picked and have their careers set out for them, they have to first show that they have the ability. This is the key issue, by not even trying to get decent grades you ultimately shoot yourself in the foot. In my experience it is a sickening sight to see people, who are no cleverer than you, gain that dream placement or training contract simply because they took first year seriously.
This is not to slight those who do take first year seriously and gain average grades or below par, in many circumstances this is far better than receiving basic passes or suffering the summer pain of revising for re-sits. Life at university is a pleasant time but as soon as you forget why you are there, things can slowly spiral out of control.
In my first year it was a tale of two stories. On the one hand there were those who knew inside out what needed to be done and what steps needed to be taken. On the other were those naive few who did not look beyond what they were doing the next day, let alone what they would be doing in a years’ time. I guarantee if you look around your year in the next couple of months you will see these people and wonder in astonishment how they are so ‘clever’ and motivated. If I have learnt anything from university it is that no-one is cleverer than you, they simply knew how ‘the system’ worked before anyone else.
‘The system’ is simply figuring out what steps to take. There is a vast ocean of information available at your careers service and online. Networking, and experience in your field is a clear goal you should all have. Thinking ahead – to the end of your degree – you do not want to regret any missed opportunities.
Admittedly, first year is a year I will always cherish; I made some great friends and had the best times. Ultimately, with whatever degree you end up with it comes down to two things, who you know and how good you are.
In reality, first year is just as important as the rest of them, it showcases who you are. The best advice I ever received was that you should remember, every piece of work you present and every exam you take is ultimately a statement of yourself. I just wish someone had told me sooner…
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