So now you’re an official student! How does it feel? Great, right? But, you’re gonna start to realise you have to pay for a lot more. Freedom does come at a price, as they say, so here’s a couple of useful tips on us.
1. Buy a reusable drinks cup to stop you buying a Starbucks every day, because it adds up quick (believe me). This tip helps save our beautiful planet by creating less waste. Also: Caterlink. The app is linked to the college catering and gets you cool deals on food and drink, such as Black Friday last year: everyone got a hot drink for 1p! Want even more? UNiDAYS and Student Beans are another two apps I owe my life to - They give so many discounts: clothes, books, a good old takeaway. Living on a budget has never been easier!
2. You’re gonna roll your eyes at this one and say “Yeah, sure,” but trust us: use a few of your frees for studying. Two years may not feel like a long time, but two years of info sure is a lot to remember and revise all at once. By the time May rolls around and exams are knocking on your door you’ll wish you’d have put in some extra work earlier on in the year. You can thank us later.
3. That said, in the first few weeks you're probably going to find yourself with nothing to do at some point. So, instead of sitting in the canteen staring into space, use this time to make some friends. Don't just limit yourself to people in your classes; most people will be happy to chat! Sure, you'll have to sit through a dozen, "So... what subjects are you doing?" conversations, but eventually you'll find someone who also likes Pokémon, Cosplay, or 17th century themed heavy metal just as much as you do, and it'll all be worth it.
4. Whilst you’re here, you may as well try as many new things as you can, and the best way to do this would be to join some clubs. Fancy some beekeeping? There’s a club for that. Want to knit? There’s a club for that. Feel like writing? There’s a club for that. Even if you’re on the fence about whether you want to or not, go along and take a look! You might make new friends or find a new passion, and if you decide later that it’s not for you, at least you can say you gave it a go.
5. At some point, you're probably going to end up tearing your hair out with frustration. And you know what? That's perfectly okay. It only becomes a problem when you don't do anything about it. Feel free to go and see your teachers during lunch or in one of your frees— they're always happy to help, and they don't give you that vague sense that you're ruining their life like High School teachers tend to do. So speak up!
6. Your pass is VERY important! Do not lose it. Passes get you in, out and around college so you’ll need it a lot. So keep your pass safe. Keep it attached to your lanyard and tie your lanyard to your bag that way you can get to it quickly. If you do lose your pass, you can get a new one at student services in guidance. The ladies at the reception are very understanding and will print you a new pass in a few minutes.
7. Most college days you will be carrying three heavy binders with you. Save yourself the trouble of lugging weight around and get a locker. It’s less than five pounds to get one, although there is a long waiting list so get yours ASAP. The first day is ideal to put your name down on the list for lockers, so quick! Ask at Student Services in Guidance.
8. College life can be stressful. Homework, deadlines, and revision makes it seem like the entire world is bearing down on you. Don’t worry. There’s many places you can go to escape/chill out. The Library steps have cushions for anyone wanting a quiet read (or nap). The Art block always has cool exhibitions for anyone who wants to look around. You aren’t expected to be working 100% of your time, so relax and enjoy the social side of college.
9. The Canteen fills up as soon as Lunch starts, with queues lasting half an hour (which is horrible when you’re hungry.) But, there are ways to get around the lunch time mayhem. Free fourth lesson? Go then! Get your chips fresh and quick. Don’t want to wait in a long queue? Starbucks serves jacket potatoes and sandwiches. Want to go on a walk? The chippy is a 15 minute walk away. Pro tip: Don’t wait until last lesson to go to the canteen, the food will be mostly gone.
10. And lastly, just remember to be chill. College isn’t like High School where you felt like you had to fit in with the crowd and conform. You can dress as fancy as you like, or throw on some sweatpants and an oversized hoodie. No one will care either way! You could probably even wear a dressing gown and no one would bat an eyelid.
At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat, rowing against the tide and trying to make it through our A-Levels with as few mental break-downs as possible. College is short, so just be yourself and have fun.