Christopher McCausland, a current 2nd year electronic engineering student, secretary of the Ulster Society of Student Engineers and a course representative tells Scroll the 5 things he thinks will help you, to get the most out of your first year.
Invest in decent stationary
You’d be surprised how many people show up to lectures without a pen and paper. Considering that you could be using your notes for years to come it makes sense to keep them in something that’s going to last. Also, a decent pen always helps, particularly if you have one to ones or interviews. Nothing comes across worse than a chewed up Bic pen.
Sit at the front
Although it’s really tempting to hide at the back, it’s not a good idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, heat rises, particularly in big lecture halls it gets really hot, really fast. Secondly its far easier to pay attention at the front as there are way less distractions meaning you get the most out of lectures. And no, you won’t be judged like in school!
Get to know your lecturers
Considering you’ll be working with them for at least the next three years you may as well get to know them. Most of the lecturers and technicians are keen to get to know the students, so don’t be scared if they ask questions! If you have any projects on the go let them know about them too, you’ll find they will have quite a lot of interest.
Have a look at what societies and clubs interest you and find out when their taster events are on. This gives you the chance to see what they are all about, meaning that you don’t sign up to lots of societies that you won’t see after week one. This is also a great time to meet new people and can enhance your employability by taking on new roles.
One of the main challenges of university is time management. Without the usual teachers to tell you when assignments need to be in and to check up on attendance, it’s really easy to let things slip. By creating a personal timetable and including designated study slots it’s much easier to work productively. You can also add in assignment due dates, so you don’t miss anything.
Ask for help
There is nothing worse than being in a lecture hall and not having a clue what’s going on, if you do find yourself falling behind you can always ask your lecturers for more help after class. It’s really important to do this as soon as you start struggling rather than waiting, as you’ll only get further behind and create more work for yourself in the long run.
Enjoy your time at Ulster University
Although we are all here to get a degree, we really can’t ignore the social side, so go out and enjoy yourself! You definitely need some relaxation time with all the hard work. Ulster University will provide you with lots of opportunities and my advice is to take them, whether that’s a year long placement, Erasmus grant or the chance to be a course representative, these can be life changing and set you up to excel and get that graduate job.