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Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming To University

University can be a great experience for many students across the world. But whilst a lot of people go to university for the main reason of their course or academic career, there is so much more to it than this! Getting your degree is one thing, but you can graduate with a whole other load of experiences, memories, skills, qualities, and opportunities under your belt too. You can learn a lot of life lessons at university and for so many people, this helps them develop as a person.

If you are getting ready to come to LSE in September, this might be worth a read! Here are some of the things that some students wished they’d have known before starting university:

It’s SO important to have a balance between work and social time

The work-life-study balance is something that all students struggle with. Getting your schedule sorted so that you have time for work and time for fun is SO important. Not only will it help you keep on top of your studies, but allocating time for all the social and fun stuff does wonders for your mental health and wellbeing…which in turn, makes you more focused when you return back to your assignments! It really is a win-win. Working on finding this balance in your first year will really help you have the best experience at LSE.

Don’t be afraid to turn up to things by yourself – everyone is in the same boat

Welcome week and the start of term is packed full of events and activities, they’re such good ways to meet new people and start the year off right. Don’t count yourself out of opportunities just because you don’t have someone to go with! There are plenty of other students that will be in the same situation, and the beauty of these events is that one of their main purposes is to help students make friends. If anything, it's one of the best scenarios to turn up by yourself! Everyone wants to settle in well and a lot of students will be more open to chatting and socialising with people they don’t know than you think. Don’t be afraid – just go!

Make the most of the opportunities, both inside and outside of the classroom

University can help you grow in many ways. It can help you grow academically, professionally, personally, creatively, morally and more. It really is true what they say - the more you put in, the more you get out. Embracing new opportunities and investing time outside of classes to get involved in extracurricular activities can help you learn more, feel happier and live a more fulfilled life at LSE. This doesn’t just apply for when you’re at LSE though! It also carries through into graduation and beyond, as these activities can also help with finding your passion in life and with seeking opportunities post-university.

LSE Students' Union is your hub of extracurricular activities at LSE! Find out more about our societies, sports clubs, academic reps, student elections, fundraisingon-site gym, fitness classes, student funding pots, advice service, student bar and lots more on our website. 

Everyone experiences hard times – it’s more than OK to ask for help!

One of the most important ones. The image that university is one big party, three years of good times and the best experience of your life isn’t always the case 100% of the time. Of course, university does come with a lot of opportunities to have fun! But there are occasions when students aren’t having the best time – and that is perfectly OK and completely normal. Every student goes through it at some point. University has its ups and downs, and it’s important to remember that there are services, staff and resources at your university to help you through these very times.

Literally, there are staff members, whose full time job is to support students through the tougher times! This is why it’s SO important to make sure you get clued up on the support services at your university from the start, and use them when you need them. And of course, they come at no additional cost! Find out more about LSE’s support services here, and the support services at your Student Union (that's us!) here.

Learning how to budget is extremely valuable

Managing your money is a challenge that every university student faces. Learning how to budget effectively early on in your studies can help you out massively! Budgets don’t just account for spending on food, bills and other essentials – a good budget will even include spending on socialising, non-essentials, trips, treats and any other fun things! Just like with your studies, it’s important to have balance across your budget for the things you “need” and the things you “want” as well.

Learning how to cook is extremely valuable

Similarly with budget, learning the fundamentals of cooking will be super helpful as you go through university. Getting the basics of how to cook meals from scratch, how to put ingredients and flavours together and getting the hang of batch cooking has so many benefits. It can help you with managing your time, making sure you keep a balanced diet, and can even help with that all-important budgeting too. Grabbing lunch on campus is good to do every once and a while, but it does add up if you’re doing it every day! There’s lots of resources online to help you with this. If you want some guidance on how to get started, check out our Savvy Student Cooking.

You don’t have to party all the time, and ditch the belief that every student does

Yes university does have it’s fair few parties, and yes, students do go to them. But that’s not what they do 100% of the time! If you have an image or belief of what a university students’ life looks like, don’t feel that you have to follow it. It is your experience and you should go through it your way! The reality is, there are lots of components to student life, some of which you will only realise once you are here. Finding the activities that are enjoyable and right for you is more important than trying to create a student life that you think all students are following!

It’s ok to not have your life all mapped out by the time you start university

Some students do come to university with a plan of what they want to do once they graduate, but that doesn’t mean that you have to! It’s perfectly fine to not know exactly what you want to do post-university or what job you want to get into as soon as you start at LSE. All students will grow and develop as a person at university, so chances are your mind might change on a few things as you go through the next few years! Many students discover their passion while they are actually here at LSE, so don’t feel pressured to have a grand plan all mapped out of what you want to do in life as soon as you arrive.

Always be yourself

The most important one of them all – always be yourself. Don’t do things you would prefer not to do because you feel you have to or because others are doing them – and just to clarify, we’re not talking about assignments or coursework here people! We’re talking about all of those other experiences you’ll have outside of the classroom. Find your own interests, passions, likes, dislikes, pass times and more, and do what is right for you! Spend your spare time in the ways that are most enjoyable for you, even if that’s a cosy night in to wind down. This even applies when meeting people and making friends – connect with people you want to, and not because you feel you have to. Everyone finds their friends in their own way at LSE, some will find them easier and straight away, and sometimes it’s challenging and takes a little longer – both are completely fine! Go at your own pace. There is no “right” way to move through university, because everyone is different and has different experiences. Always be yourself and you’ll give yourself the best chance of having a fun, enjoyable and enriching university experience at LSE.