The three years of uni all have one thing in common: you’ll think they were the best years of your life. First year is very different to second year and, I imagine, second year is very different to third year.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “first year doesn’t count” and so you spend all of your time chilling out instead of working. While it’s important to have fun, make friends and settle in in first year, I think it’s equally as important to engage in your studies; if you get used to putting in the hours then it won’t come as as much of a shock in second year – when it “actually counts”.
The amount of effort you need to put in to succeed also significantly increases. In first year, you might be able to scrape past by reading the textbook to catch up and pulling an all nighter in the library the day before a deadline. However, in second year lecturers will be looking for so much more. It’s likely that you will be expected to read around the subject, put effort into your assignments and actually attend lectures (yes, even the 9ams)!
The standard of work required also increases significantly. A lecturer told me that if you achieved 70% for an assignment in first year, the same quality would be likely to only achieve 60% in second year and 50% in third year – basically you’ve got to up your game. That may sound scary but you’re also naturally going to improve. Over the course of uni you will improve your ability to write academic essays, reports and reflective logs; to reference and research; and to manage your time effectively.
If I could give one piece of advice to myself at the start of each year, it would be to make revision materials for theory-based topics as the year went along. The amount of content that you’re going to have thrown at you is very, very large and trying to mop it all up and learn it in deadline season will be difficult – this is the voice of experience talking, maybe I’ll try it out in third year…
As someone who’s only just finished second year, maybe I wasn’t the best person to volunteer for a post about transitioning from year to year because I’m still making the transitions myself. But if the difference from first year to second is anything to go by, then I could be in for a shock once again. At the end of the day, everyone who is at uni chose to be there and if you channel that want into willpower then it will get easier.