Preparing For Second Year Of Uni? Here's Everything You Should Know
The first year of university is coming to an end, which means you’ve got a big summer to look forward to before you transition into second year university life in a few months.
We’ve given tips on how to make the most of a university open day in the past, and this article is designed to help you make that shift in focus between first and second year.
There is a huge difference between your first and second-year experience at university, with the level of study stepping up a notch, and the standard required much higher than first year.
Without making you worry, this is when university gets serious, so you need to be prepared for the extra workload, the deadlines, and the focus you’ll need to have to succeed.
This isn’t to say that you won’t have any fun during your second and third year, but there will be a change in how you approach the year.
Tips To Prepare For Second Year Of Uni
First year of university has a bit of a safety net, as the grades do not count towards your final degree results, and in most cases, you just need to pass to get through into the next year.
This is why it is so important to look at the following tips and hints we’ve put together to be prepared for next year!
1. Make The Most Of Your Summer Break
The summer break is quite long in reality and gives you a chance to have a proper break after what has probably been a hectic first year of university.
Although you haven’t got the same academic pressures that you’ll have in your second and third year of university, the first year is still a change in lifestyle, living away from home, meeting new people, and adjusting to a new life.
So, ensuring that you take a proper summer break is important to fully recharge your batteries, whether it’s going home to visit family and friends, going on holiday abroad or just taking the time to relax and do very little.
It’s also important to practice self-care whilst you have the chance to properly do so.
2. Get Reading As Early As You Can
It is important to take that time for a proper holiday and break away from all things study and university to prepare for second year.
So, we’d recommend taking a break away completely, not even thinking about next year for a couple of weeks at least.
Once you’ve had that break and your mind and body is fresh again, take some time to look at your reading list for next year and to start getting ahead.
This doesn’t have to be a case of getting hold of all the books on your list and putting the long hours of reading in, maybe just choose one or two of the core books and reading them at your leisure.
Don’t put off reading for pleasure though, make sure you build in time for that as it is relaxing, enjoyable, and broadens your mind to read for pleasure alongside reading for study purposes.
3. Be Aware Of Grade Changes
First year grades don’t count in most cases, so you may be used to having a little less pressure when it comes to studying and completing assignments.
When you get into second year university and beyond, the weighting of the grades comes into play, and you need to be aware of this before you go back after the summer break.
Instead of just needing to pass, you’ll need to think about your overall degree.
In most cases, second year university grades are weighted to count for 40% of your overall degree, with third year counting for 60% of your final grades.
This means you must start well and develop good studying habits when you go back to university in the second year.
4. Utilise Available Resources
During your time at university, there are plenty of helpful resources available to you which you should make sure to utilise.
If you didn’t really make the most of the available resources at your university in your first year (perhaps because you didn’t know about them) then you really should look to build this into your schedule from second year university onwards.
You should also make a note of office hours your lecturers keep and ask for one-to-one support and guidance whenever you can.
If you don’t understand something in a seminar, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
Tutors are there to help, and they are happy to do so, but you need to make the move and book an appointment with them.
Developing these habits early on within your second year of uni is crucial!
5. Maintain A Healthy Work-life Balance
Whether you’ve been good at having a balance in first year or not, the summer break is the perfect time to think about how you can improve this aspect of your life.
One of the first things you can do is to make sure you have a dedicated and comfortable workspace that you’re happy with in your student flat.
Once you have your lectures, seminars, and coursework dates, make a wall chart or a calendar in a place where you can easily see it, and you can regularly look at.
Create a schedule that builds in time for study, and personal time for either you to relax and for you to spend time with friends.
6. Plan Your Assignments Carefully
Once you have the specifics of your assignments, including word counts, think about how you can break everything down into manageable sections.
This makes it much easier to plan ahead and to stay on top of everything throughout the year, and to build in safety nets should you struggle with certain aspects or essays throughout the year.
As we said earlier, the workload increases significantly within your second and third year, so breaking assignments (and later exam revision) into smaller chunks is much easier to stay on top of.
7. Don’t Leave Things Until The Last Minute
Another aspect of planning ahead is that it cuts down the chances of you leaving things to the last minute and missing deadlines – this is the worst-case scenario for several reasons.
You never want to miss a deadline (unless of course there are extenuating circumstances), as you could be punished in terms of grading.
Planning well in advance for your essays and getting them written and submitted early, also means you’ve got more time to do proper research, to read over the essay and tighten it up.
Last minute writing is also more likely to lead to mistakes that are not picked up and a lower quality standard of finished work than you are capable of.
8. Plan Ahead To Your Dissertation
At some point during your second year at university, you’ll be asked to think about your dissertation.
It might feel like it’s far away in the future right now, but it’ll come around quickly and it’s better to be as prepared as possible.
So, we’d suggest having a think about what topics you might want to try and write about and speak to different specialists and tutors about what you might be able to do.
It’s also important to think about what type and level of research will be required, and just what to expect when the time comes to commit to a dissertation for year three.
9. Consider Work Placement Opportunities
Depending on the type of course you are on, and the future career you are looking at, second year university is the time to search for some work placement opportunities and internships.
Industry experience, and any work experience to be honest, will always be a positive thing to add to your CV.
In some cases, a work placement might be built-in to your degree structure, with a year out of university to work as part of a four-year course for instance.
The careers service at your university can help you identify different placement options, and your tutor can advise on the best research and work placements that will complement your degree and future career plans.
Most schemes have application dates open in early September, so be prepared for that when you go back to university.
10. Have Fun
Throughout all the planning, reading, staying ahead of your coursework, and thinking about your future career, it is important to remember that second year university does not have to be all work and no play.
Make sure that you continue to have fun, to meet new friends, and to have that good social life that keeps your mind active away from just study.
The better you become at that balance, the better foundations you’ll build for your future life, post university.
As you can see, transitioning from first year to second year university means a different mindset to be as successful as you want to be.
Enjoy your summer holidays, have a break, and recharge your batteries, and then have one eye on your return to university for the second year.
Having a clear plan of action will help you to hit the ground running, and to really settle into life as a veteran of your university and town or city you live in.
Having a comfortable student accommodation to live in is always a great start, providing you with your calm oasis to chill out and relax in, with great friends around you, and a study space of your own that really works for you.