Two of our Level 1 undergraduates reflect on their first year at university

This interview was conducted and edited by Ellie Lowe and Abbie Arestis

Are there any general reflections you would like to make on your first year as a whole?

Craig: Coming to the University of Lincoln was a brilliant choice for me. I am enjoying both the course and university life. I’m currently working towards deadlines to complete my first year and I feel confident that in the coming years I will continue to enjoy studying History at Lincoln.

Talitha: My first year at Lincoln wasn’t what I expected, but in truth I had no idea what to expect studying history at university and living away from home for the first time. I remember being excited and nervous but now that first year is almost over it’s difficult to remember everything that has happened. I can certainly say that I have enjoyed my time at Lincoln so far and that completely comes down to the course. Studying at university is different from being at secondary school and sixth form but not necessarily because it is harder, more that the way we learn has changed. The eight compulsory modules that we have studied have all been different and have had their own challenges, but overall I am pleased I chose such an established and varied history course, in both period and theme.

What have you enjoyed most?

Talitha: History has been a subject that has interested me for some time, but when it is taught at school you often find that similar subjects reoccur because of the set syllabi. While I’m sure that some schools have a wider curriculum, studying at university for me has been especially interesting due to the new areas that we have been able to cover, with tutors and lecturers whose specialities are in these periods or themes. Learning from people who are experts in a certain area does lead to a wider and more involved understanding of that topic.

Craig: Meeting a wide range of new people with different opinions has been one of the best parts of coming to university and I have really enjoyed the new discussions that the university learning environment encourages.

What aspects have you struggled with most?

Craig: I’ve struggled with building a routine. Attempting to fit a lot of experiences into my first year has been difficult but worth it. Sometimes I found myself with a bit too much work to do, but I’ve learnt my lesson about leaving assignments until the last minute!

Talitha: From lectures, to seminars, and assignments, the structure of this course is a different way of learning and therefore needs adapting to. If, for whatever reason, you miss one of the lectures, seminars or couldn’t do the reading you are set back when it comes to the assignments. Getting into the pattern of attending and doing everything that you need to do for the subject alongside learning how to live on your own for the first time is a difficult, yet eventually achievable feat.

Is there anything you wish you had known at the start of the year?

Talitha: It is worth reading the module handbooks and taking lots of notes on the lectures and the seminar readings. By doing this you are really helping yourself out with your final assessments. There are also tutors who can answer any questions you may have so it is worth getting all the help you can at the beginning, so that it doesn’t all pile up at the end.

Craig: If I could give myself three pieces of advice I would tell myself to plan ahead and not leave assignments to the last minute, to exercise more, and to not get distracted… maybe by cutting down on binge-watching Netflix just a little!

Is there any advice you would give new first years?

Talitha: Firstly, just get the reading done, it makes everything easier and, even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking out in seminars, having the knowledge to understand everything that is being discussed is a lot better than sitting there counting the minutes. Secondly, I’m sorry to say but you probably won’t enjoy every single section of each module, but that doesn’t mean you should just give up on that section of the course. This brings me to my final point that university is different from the way you have learnt and studied before. It takes some time to get used to it but it isn’t impossible. You’re studying a subject that you’ve chosen because you enjoy it, so do just that.

Craig: Try to make sure that you put yourself in the best position to move forward in the course, as first year is all about learning the skills you will need for years two and three. Also, your course mates are your friends – there’s nothing better than having a group that you can confide in and ask for help.