7 Ways to Plan Ahead for Your Next Year at College
If you’re reading this, congratulations on surviving a year of college! You’re probably now a seasoned pro at getting to 9am lectures on time, and not starting your assignments the night before they’re due.
So why not continue your winning streak by doing these seven things to get prepped for your next year, helping you to stay on top of everything from your finances to your study time.
1. GET AHEAD WITH THE REQUIRED READING
Reading lists – compulsory or optional – are great for familiarising yourself with the academic year ahead, because they tend to follow the same structure and order as your lectures. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the texts, make some notes, and come September you’ll be feeling much more at ease with the topics that lie ahead.
2. PICK YOUR OPTIONAL MODULES
Once you move onto your second or third year, most courses will offer a selection of optional modules where you can pick and mix some of your studies, as long as they make up the necessary credits for that year.
Whilst optional modules are great because they give you some control over what you’re learning, they’re much like free pizza – gone in a flash. So if you have your heart set on a specific choice, make sure you secure a place as soon as registration is open. See your optional modules as a chance to explore an unusual topic or pick up a new skill. Everyone will be vying for the most popular option so consider what you can gain by choosing one of the more unconventional modules if your number-one choice is booked up. Sure they may seem a bit out-there right now, but when you’re sat in an interview they’ll make a great talking point.
3. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FREE TIME
Having fun isn’t just reserved for freshers, and now that you’re settled into college life you can really make the most of your free time. Most societies and sports clubs try to organise different meeting times, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding ones that easily fit your schedule.
Enjoying yourself is an important part of the college experience, and finding a good work/play balance will benefit you in the long run. You can use a free app like MyStudyLife to keep track of assignments, exams, etc. so you always know how much free time you have to relax and enjoy yourself.
4. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR MONEY
Keeping on top of your finances might not be fun or glamorous, but like making your own doctor’s appointments, it’s now a part of life. Sorting your finances ahead of the new academic year can give you peace of mind and help you focus on more important things, like navigating the political minefield that is group work, and convincing yourself that you can get 8 hours of sleep in 3 hours.
Go through your last few statements to see where you could be saving money, and go from there. You’d be surprised at how much you can save just by cutting down on the number of coffees you buy in a week. Make sure you’re making the most of any money that you are spending, and if you find that you don’t even remember what the inside of your gym looks like, maybe it’s time to look at a better way to spend that money than on that optimistic membership.
Learn a thing or two from savvy student shoppers and make the most of your NUS card, Unidays, and any other bargains you can get your hands on – trusts us you’ll miss that ASOS discount when it’s gone.
5. START THINKING ABOUT YOUR DISSERTATION
Your dissertation should be a real passion project, and it’s never too early to start thinking about a topic for it. If you’re heading into your second year, it might seem like something for future-you to deal with, but do yourself a favour and make a list of some of the areas that interest you, or ones you think would merit further research.
When the time finally comes, you’ll be spending a lot of time on your dissertation so you don’t want to make a last minute decision on your topic only to find yourself hating it halfway through. Not only is your dissertation your most significant piece of academic work, but it’s also the best opportunity for you to sink your teeth into something you really care about and can later show off to prospective employers.
6. GET ORGANISED
Learning to be organised is something that will benefit all areas of your life; it’s likely that you’ll already have a draft copy of your timetable, so use that as a starting point.
The general rule, at college, is that your total study time per week should be 40 hours, so add up all your lecture and seminar time, then work out how many hours of independent studying you should be aiming for on top of that. Try your hardest to make the most of your lectures, because they will provide vital reference points for your independent study time.
Once you’ve organised your study time, move on to organising your desk. Bin any unnecessary handouts, and file away any important documents and useful papers. Decluttering your desk will not only reduce stress but will also save you time in finding things – spending half an hour doing it now will save you time in the long run (at which point you might not have a spare half-hour for rummaging!).
7. RELAX MAKE THE MOST OF SUMMER
Who says “new year, new me” is reserved for January? Planning aside, the best way to prepare for the new academic year by giving yourself some downtime. Right now, the summer break might mean all of your favourite clubs closing until Freshers’ Week, and the fulfillment of the long promised visit back home, but once college is over you’ll be missing the luxury of these long summer breaks.
Don’t spend the summer worrying about the year ahead, otherwise before you know it you’ll have worried your whole break away. Relax, spend time with your friends, take that day trip you’ve been putting off all year, grab a good book and enjoy the summer sun – or as much of it as we’re likely to get. Whatever you do, just enjoy the break and come September you’ll be feeling like a brand new you. After all, the whole idea of planning ahead is to help you relax and stay on top of things, so don’t spend the summer colour coding your revision notes. Instead, get out and explore the city before the next round of freshers descend upon it.
FIND NEW ACCOMMODATION
Looking for accommodation is always a big step in planning for the year ahead, with plenty of things to factor in when searching for your next flat.
When you’re living in a Uninest residence, you can expect functional and stylish design, and all the modern conveniences necessary to meet your needs.