I really should have written this post closer to the end of my first semester since I have just over a month left till the end of my second semester. Despite what the title says, most of this post could apply to anyone studying a degree.
The first semester was a whirlpool of just about everything that is crazy!
So here we go.
Number 1 - meeting peopleYou're going to meet a large number of people within the first couple of weeks of the semester. You probably won't talk to most of them on a regular basis but this is the first opportunity you have to interact with your classmates and this is the perfect time to make a good impression.
Don't be rude to your fellow classmates. Say "hi" everytime you see them and ask them how they're doing. It's not exactly difficult and it may not seem that important but it will start conversation and people like other people who talk. I found that other students were too shy to talk much and because I talk a lot when nervous, I found people found it easy to talk to me since I took the pressure of talking off of them. But don't ramble. It'll get annoying quickly and it will make you look slightly stupid. Instead, try discussing how sixth form or secondary school was or what you did over summer. A good conversation starter is your course. Since you're all going to be studying the same modules (mostly) in the first year, talk about which modules you're looking forward too and why.
Practice good hygeine. Please take a shower. Nobody wants to sit through a 2 hour lecture with someone who smells of alcohol and late night take-aways.
Smile. People like happy people. Nobody wants to talk to someone grumpy and it might even look like you don't want to talk. Stand in front of your mirror for a couple of seconds every morning and smile at yourself. That's the face you want, not the face of a grumpy-guts. But be careful. Don't walk around campus with a Cheshire cat smile. People might think you're up to no good and honestly, it might look like you're a crazy psycho.
Get people's numbers. If you meet someone you talk to a lot on the first day, get their number so you can contact them. If not, find them on Facebook. You want to interact with people so make sure you open yourself to interactions!
Try to remember people's names. It's embarrassing to forget isn't it? But if you do forget, be honest and ask them. It'll make you seem like you're at least trying.
Decide to meet up later during the week for coffee. Basically, make an effort to see people out of lectures and tutorials. It's easy during the first few weeks when everyone is taking things easy but once you get into the middle of the semester, it's going to be difficult to spend 15 hours a week hanging out.
Number 2 - organisation is no jokeGet yourself a diary. This is seriously one of the most important things you could do in the first couple of weeks. Get yourself organised and know what you have to do on each day. Write down when your lectures and tutorials are. Make note of social events and days out so you know when you won't be studying. And then slot off time for extra studying and reading so you know when to turn your phone off and get away from the internet.
Get a pencil case. You're going to need a pen, a pencil and a highlighter at least. You might also need a stapler if your jackass library decide to take away the staplers.
Get a sturdy bag. It doesn't need to be 100% nerd but make sure it can hold at least 1 notebook, 2 textbooks and a statute book. Small purse-bags are not ideal.
Get comfortable trainers. Seriously though, walking around in flip-flops and high heels for hours on end is not good for your feet. And no, flip-flops are not 100% safe. And they look stupid unless it's 25°C or over.
Number 3 - studying and the library
Despite what anyone says, studying in your room is not always a good idea. Make sure you visit the library for those times when you keep finding yourself on Facebook instead of researching for your next tutorial.
Print off the main cases for each topic, read them, highlight them and put them into a folder. You can read less important cases online but the pivotal cases should ideally be printed off and don't be afraid to write notes all over your copies!
Studying in groups, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Try to balance group work with individual work. Studying in groups is good for tutorial research and stuff. More work will get done in less time but when it comes to coursework and exam revision, try to study 75% on your own and 25% in a group. Feel free to change the %'s based on your own needs and studying style but remember individual study is also good.
Get some decent headphones to muffle the sounds of the students who are studying something 'fun'. Most students will be quiet in the library. But some will be loud, irritating and obnoxious. It's especially worse during revision time when 100 people will cramp themselves into one study corner. Even if the headphones are off, at least it will be harder to listen to annoying people who don't have exams but feel the need to take up precious space in the library.
Essay plans. These are life-savers for lazy students. When you come across a question which could come up in an exam, if you don't want to write the whole thing, just write a plan. You could also use the plan for revision.
Don't fall behind. Or at least try not to. Catching up is hard work and a lot of the time, you won't manage it. But if you do fall behind, plan how you're going to catch up and see if a friend is willing to lend you some notes or help you through your catching up times.
Use revision cards to summarise cases. This will be a godsend when you're studying for exams. I'll scan an example and upload it later.
Number 4 - Tutors
Be nice. Seriously, they'll be more likely to help you if you're nice. Do the work they assign and remember that you can always ask them for help or questions. Most will be happy to answer your questions. And don't swear in front of them. It's a common thing for young people to swear but there's a time and place for acting like that.
Number 5 - It's okay to be a nerd
Everyone around you will also be one. I tell other students that I'm a writer and although it's something that was definitely nerdy in school, now it's pretty cool. Everyone will have had the hard work and the brains to get into university so suddenly, everyone around you will be similar.
Number 6 - the dreadfully boring art of taking notes
It's boring but an invaluable skill. Your lecturers and tutors won't be giving you your own notes. You'll have to take them yourself. I'll do another post after my exams showing you some of my notes and how I summarise cases on revision cards.
Get your textbook and a revision book. Open up the revision book and make notes from that book first and then turn to another page and make additional, more detailed notes from the textbook. Or you could just use the textbook. But try to write some summary points BEFORE the detailed notes so when you're revision you don't have to keep going through the detailed points to grasp the main concepts.
Number 7 - attendance
If attendance of lectures is optional then feel free to turn up or not go. Not everyone learns well in lectures. I get bored and side-tracked. I struggle to listen without daydreaming. I get claustrophobic. In fact, I've even ran out of lectures. But if you do miss them, then remember to study the topic yourself. There's no excuse to not study yourself if you don't go. You have two hours to spare, then pick up the book and read!
Tutorials are different. They aren't optional. YOU HAVE TO GO! But there will always be people who just don't go and they are the kind of people who make me angry. Not only are you paying for this attention and contact time, tutors can go into detail that lecturers can't and you'll also find that tutorials could only have 8 tutees. Tutorials are the best part of the degree for me. I can ask questions. We can have discussions. It's invaluable. So please try and attend all of them. They're also a lot more fun than lectures in my opinion!
Well that's it for now. I'll update this with another post later if something else comes up.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments section! If you are thinking of studying law and have any questions then please feel free to ask in the comments section too!