5 Things I Wish I Knew Before University

Looking forward from center stage to graduation day

Time to get the future started

Brownie points to you if you know where those lyrics are from…but unlike them, I’m graduating from University not High School. It’s crazy that three years of work is leading up to me walking across the stage to shake the hand of Jacqueline Wilson it’s going to be so hard not to fan girl. These past 3 years have been a roller coaster ride, I spent first years partying and in denial of struggling with depression until I finally went on medication before starting my blog that summer. Fast forward two years later I’m off my medication and have been for the whole the third year, I’ve gotten grades to be proud of and I’m walking out of uni with my dream job…although it’s not related to my degree in the slightest!

Believe it or not, I’ve not actually had the most amazing uni experience, while the social side has been fun and I’ve made some good friends, the academic side has let me down slightly. Which is disappointing considering my university is ranked the best in the country for its dance department.

I’ll go into that more in this post, but 3 years does go a lot quicker than you think it does. It honestly feels like only yesterday I was being dropped off to fend for myself…or should I say attempt to fend for myself. It’s safe to say that when I went to uni I didn’t know how to cook many things, or how a lot of things to work. Luckily I’m a quick learner and can proudly say I’ve mastered a couple of dishes since being at uni and I’m not referring to my cracking tuna mayo pasta or beans on toast.

While I am slightly sad to be leaving the Roehampton bubble, it’s my time to leave and start the next chapter of my life…which I can thank my blog for helping me land my dream job that is actually perfect for me. Anyway, let’s get on with 5 things I wish I knew before starting university.

1. you don’t have to go to university

When I was in college it seems like the only option afterwards was to go onto uni, to the point we did half a module about what university we wanted to attend and part of it involved writing a personal statement. I was quite keen to go to university at the time and I enjoyed going to auditions and got accepted into both my first and second choice universities much to my surprise. After reading and re-reading both prospectives and watching promotional videos I decided on Roehampton as the university I would attend. September rolled around and I move to London to pursue my dream dance career and in 3 years I’d be auditioning for West End shows like I’d always dreamed. How very wrong I was. I have struggled both academically and physically at university. Academically I knew I’d struggle slightly I was diagnosed with dyslexia in college but when my results were sent to the university either they were disregarded or got lost in transit and I’ve received no support over the 3 years I’ve been here.

In all honesty, university hasn’t really been for me, the first year was fun because everything was new and exciting but by the end of the third year I was bored and ready to move on. For me, my love of dance has been ruined by studying it at university and I can’t wait to move back home and go back to my dance school where I can fall back in love with a hobby I’ve had since I was little. I didn’t really need to go to university to get me the job I’ve just landed since it’s not related to my degree at all, although university has forced me to be even more productive on my own, work to deadlines and how to conduct myself professionally.

Don’t feel like university is the only option, look into apprenticeships, jobs which you can work your way up in and even open university if you don’t fancy attending a physical university. I am proud of myself to persevering and in just under 2 months I will have my degree and be a graduate.

2. It’s expensive

It doesn’t seem to matter how rich or poor your family is nowadays everybody seems to struggle at university. I come from a working-class family and while I got the full loan and grant available I’ve still struggled to live and had to ask my mum for money to buy food. Sure I could have worked more hours if my old job had actually given them to me instead of taking 35 hours away from me but then my university work would have suffered. I go to a London university and live on campus in Zone 3 so I’m only 20 minutes away from Waterloo but it is slightly cheaper than living in central…but my rent still swallows up 2/3 of my maintenance I’m supposed to live on.

They don’t warn you about the price of actually having a social life at uni, want to go out for cocktails? Wave goodbye to at least £20. Have a formal coming up? That’s another £20 at least for a ticket and then you’ll most likely have to get a new outfit…I know I have at least 4 formal events a year (not including blog events) that I can only repeat an outfit so many times. Going to university is going to drain your bank account without you even realising it.

3. Work hard

Sure in first year you only have to get 40% to pass and it doesn’t count towards your degree but trust me the jump between first and second year is a lot more dramatic than second to third year. While I was in second year I suffered the loss of my Grandad, as well as my first breakup so my grades were pretty shocking and my attendance was poor but I managed to also achieve my first and only first in Dance Science once I finally finished grieving both losses. Going into third year I knew I needed to work hard if I wanted to graduate with a decent grade, and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve achieved 2:1s in all my written work and high 2:2s in my practical classes and as someone whose body is slowly giving up I’m pretty proud of all my grades. I have an idea of what I’m going to graduate with but I have to wait to see what the uni actually decides.

If only second year had gone as smoothly and successfully as third-year had then I’d have no issues…but that’s life and you’ve just got to power through.

4. You’ll meet some of the best and worse people

University is quite often people’s first chance at flying the nest and being independent and while they may seem like lovely people for the first week you quickly discover they don’t know how to clean up after themselves…nor that slamming their door at 3 am is unacceptable. People that let their door slam are some of my least favourite people, it’s something so small and easy to change and it’s just a pet hate of mine. As for those that don’t know how to clean up after themselves, there’s only so many times you can leave passive aggressive notes before you reach your last teather…they’re just too used to having their parents clean up after them.

Now also at university you’ll meet some lovely people, people you’ll bond with for the rest of your life. I’m not going to lie but a lot of these friendships will first be based on either a mutual love of drinking or just the fact you live together and it’ll develop from there. Some of these people you’ll meet in your first week or in my case before we even started while others you won’t fully bond with till your last couple of months I’ve also had that happen. These are the people you want to hold onto and while I did a post on Everything I’ve Learnt About Friendships even now I’m still making friends and building connections.

I’m not going to promise that you’ll make amazing friends or you’ll have the biggest friendship circle but the only thing you can do is put yourself out there, get involved in events and talk to people. Joining the rowing team definitely helped me build friendships as well as learn to handle dramas so whether your about to start university or you’re going into your final year have a look at what sports interest you and join one. You never know the friendships and bonds you can make.

5. It’ll go quicker than you think

Honestly, the years will just fly by because you’ll be so busy with essays and exams, then before you know it you’re buying tickets to graduation and searching for the perfect dress. I personally didn’t believe people when they said that it goes quickly but gosh golly does it speed past right in front of your eyes. Obviously, I have a couple of regrets about my time at uni and there are things that haven’t lived up to my expectations mainly the course but overall it’s been a good experience. Would I want to stay here any longer? No, my time is done and it’s time for me to pop the bubble and go out into the real world and I’m so happy that I’m literally leaving university, going on holiday and then stepping straight into a job I dreamed I would.

Without a doubt it’s important to make sure university is something YOU want to do. You don’t want to go just because everyone else is, or you’re parents/ college are telling you it’s the only route. It isn’t. Look into other opportunities and possibilities, you don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket. Or if you do go to university and you decide that it isn’t for you, you are allowed to drop out and pursue other paths. I pushed myself through the 3 years as to prove to myself that I could do it and I could walk out with a degree. I made it to the other side and I have become a different person, I’ve grown and I’ve found my priorities in life. I’m sure I could have done that without landing myself in something like £50,000 debt (although I’m sure it’s more than that) but this is the path I chose.

You get to chose your path, make sure it’s the right one.

Love you lots like jelly tots x


All photos within this post were taken by Sarah on a Canon 70D with 35 Sigma Art Les in natural lighting. They were then edited in Lightroom.
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