By Vlad Mackevic
This is one of those moments you might remember for the rest of your life. It is celebration time and all family members are calling to congratulate you. After years of hard work, revision, probably one or two sleepless nights, you’ve finally made it to university.
Congratulations once again! You arrive on campus, not able to believe your luck – three years full of adventures that will change your life are ahead of you. You are excited. You are proud. You are slightly worried. You brace yourself for a new life.
And then it happens.
As soon as the rumbling of the engine of your parents’ car abates in the distance, as soon as you step into the crowd, ready to plunge into the new life headfirst – you are told something that is probably the biggest lie you will ever hear during your university life.
This lie sounds too good for you to start doubting it – and this where its danger lies. It is capable of turning an optimistic, determined, enthusiastic fresher into a lazy couch potato and opportunity waster.
This lie is:
The first year of university does not count.
One of the reasons why I am writing for this blog is because I want to counter this lie and protect all students from the danger it poses.
It is a dangerous lie because… it’s partially true. Yes, the grades of your first year do not count towards your final grade at the end of your final year (although currently it is being planned to revolutionise the system by introducing new ‘report cards’ and redesigning degree classification systems altogether). However, too many Freshers are tricked into believing that they can just keep partying, doing the bare minimum of schoolwork needed to pass the first year and watching television and playing sports in all the time that remains.
I have to disappoint you – life’s not that easy anymore. This lifestyle could have passed 10 years ago, but now the situation is too desperate to continue living like that.
The first year does count and its significance is paramount. The most obvious reason why it counts is because it is your time. Imagine someone told you: one year of your time is worthless; the effort you make during that time also counts for nothing. How would this make you feel? How would you react? I can bet you’d challenge this person because your time is worth everything for you. You are at university because you think it’s worth your time. You are reading this article because you think it’s worth your time, too!
Moreover, imagine this situation:
You are applying for a summer internship at the end of the first year or start looking for a work placement at the start of the second year.
Most probably, your employer will want to see your academic credentials, especially if you have no relevant work experience (the latter is also important, and I will talk about it later in this book). What are you going to tell your future boss? ‘Hey, look here, I got 54% average in the first year, but in the second year I promise to have no less than 68%’?
No one’s going to fall for that.
Therefore, unless you are not planning to do any internships or gain any work experience (which is the worst thing you can do), the grades of the first year do count.
Moreover, even thought your first year grades do not count towards your academic progress (which is also likely to change in the future), it is still worth making more effort in the first year because many second year modules are based what you learn in your first year. In other words, the better you perform in the beginning, the less effort you will have to make later.
If you need more information on how to obtain higher grades without going crazy in the process, you can find great tips in my book From Confusion to Conclusion: How to Write a First-Class Essay. I will publish the book in autumn 2012 and you’ll also be able to download part of the book for free from this site and www.FirstYearCounts.com.
Yet, there is no need to study to the point of exhaustion. The best way is to find a healthy balance between your studies and extra-curricular activities (I will talk a lot about those in this book!). Since the grades of the first year are not nearly as important for your academic progress as those of the second or the final year, I strongly advise you to spend as much time as possible developing non-academic skills by ‘doing a lot of stuff’ – engaging in extra-curricular activities with clubs and societies and gaining serious work experience (if you’re interested in learning more about this, keep following The Lecture Room). For example, you could join our page on Facebook. While you’re at it, you can also join First Year Counts!
In summary, your first year does count. It counts towards your studies, your skills, your work experience and, above all, your future. I am writing for this blog to show you how to make it count and gain maximum advantage, taking all the benefits you can from your university life, starting from the first day of the first year. Follow this blog and find out!
P.S. This article is based on a chapter from Vlad Mackevic’s new book CAMP UK 10/2012: THE ULTIMATE POST-2012 UNIVERSITY SURVIVAL GUIDE, in which Vlad explains how to make the most out of your university experience. The book is coming out in October 2012, but extracts from it as well as related articles will be published on The Lecture Room as well as www.FirstYearCounts.com throughout the rest of the year.
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