A bullet journal, with lots of coloured pens and a cup of coffee.

Things I wish my parents had told me before I started uni

My parents are usually pretty on top of their game for advice. But since they didn’t go to uni themselves, there are a few things that they didn’t teach me about those crucial three years.

Practice the 80-20 Rule:

The 80-20 Rule is based on treating yourself. It means that 80% of the time, you should do what you need to do (eat healthily, sleep earlier, do your work on time) and 20% of the time, do what you want to do (go out with friends, have a lie-in, have a takeaway). I wish that my parents had taught me that from the get-go, because going from living under their roof to living independently meant that I had a crazy amount of freedom in a very short amount of time. I did everything I wanted to do and neglected what I needed to do. I fell into a slump where I didn’t want to go out because I’d gained weight, I was piled up with work and I felt generally hopeless because I had no money. So yeah…80-20 is definitely the way to go.

Don’t strive for the best every time:

My family has always been competitive – it’s where I get my stubborn personality from. I hate to lose, and I hate knowing that I could have done better. But one thing that I wish my parents told me is that it is near impossible to get it right every time. Of course, they always said ‘do your best’, and never expected me to be perfect, but I think we all recognise a sense of pressure to do good, especially coming from a family of such high-achievers. I created this idea in my head that I had to get a first in every assignment and anything less was just not good enough. Well, guess what? I didn’t get a first in every assignment. And I’m still alive, happy and healthy. I was stressing myself out for no reason, for an assignment worth 10% of my grade, and for my family’s approval. I realised that they don’t actually care what I achieve at University – they’re proud of me no matter what, and I don’t need to stress about grades. As my boyfriend always says, it’s about working smarter, not harder.

Mistakes are necessary:

I’m actually quite mad at myself that I didn’t realise this sooner. You learn from mistakes. It’s so cliché but it is true, you absolutely do learn from them. It takes a while to get settled into a neat routine during university. Along the way, there will be bumps in the roads, such as being unable to find a job or not getting the grade you expected. Feedback is there for your own improvement, so if you find yourself in an argument, or confused about a grade – just ask how you can be better. Ask how you can improve. Mistakes need to be made because otherwise, you wouldn’t know where you’ve gone wrong. Each hiccup makes you stronger and smarter, and it’s better to solve these during uni than when you start applying for jobs and get a house, etc. in the future!

Live within your means:

Goodness me, someone should have torn me away from my bank card in the first year. I was raised in a comfortable household. Lots of cute, unnecessary trinkets lying about the house, food from above-average priced shops. That kind of thing. So, of course, when I came to uni, I splashed out, decorating my room with really pointless stuff from expensive shops, and buying food that was way too over-priced for a student. Take my advice, cook from frozen chicken is your friend. Stop buying fresh meat/veggies every week, unless they can last a lifetime like potatoes and onions, don’t shop at high-end stores, shop at Herron Foods, or Aldi. Just because you’re used to a full-fridge at home doesn’t mean you need to waste your money on loads of food that will go out of date before you’ve had the chance to use it.

In a way, I’m glad my parents let me discover all this by myself. More often than not, the advice was always there, I was just too stubborn to listen. So maybe this article can help you realise a few things that you need to know about becoming independent – but most importantly don’t stress. Uni is a great experience, and at the end of the day, you can only do your best.

Please note: This content was created prior to Coronavirus, and some things might be different due to current laws and restrictions. Please refer to the University of Lincoln for the latest information.