We are all putting ourselves through three, four or five gruelling and sickeningly expensive years at university, mostly in the hopes of bettering job opportunities and some sort of educational enlightenment from studying something you love (unless of course you hate it by the end). Though the student experience is incredible and unique, it comes with its downfalls, and sacrifices have to be made for the sake of a university education. So why not take the most out of your experience whilst you still can?
- The Library / Access to journals
No, the library is not only the place you go to cry and begrudgingly pen essays. Most universities, in particular Russell Groups and other old/established unis have an impressive archive of not only textbooks, but novels, anthologies and classics that you can borrow for free and may not be able to find anywhere else. Many uni libraries are essentially book museums – you only have to look through the history archives to find browning old newspapers and the like, if you’re fascinated by that sort of thing.
2. Student discount
Probably the one thing on this list held the most dearly by most people, student discount is a godsend. If you don’t intend on embarking on any further education after uni, then make sure you exploit your student discount as much as possible! Remember, it’s not just applicable on clothes and in restaurants, but you can get a student discount on museums and attractions too.
3. Charity and volunteering opportunities
University is the best time in life to channel your youthful energy into volunteering and charity work. It can be so rewarding, and on top of that, student union groups are a hotpot of different initiatives that you can get stuck into, so you barely have to lift a finger to find something to get involved in. Once you graduate it will be harder to get involved, not only due to lack of time but lack of convenience of actually finding like-minded people in similar situations to you, wanting to get involved in one thing. Furthermore, the student unions are very helpful with organising and getting involved with volunteering, and that sort of pastoral care won’t be available to you once you’ve left uni.
4. A platform for freelance journalists/writers
Writing this article now on a user-friendly platform for a credible student publication with a decent following means that my work gets seen by lots of people, and I don’t even have to commit to it, pay a fee or pass a test to get my musings published. There are so many opportunities to get your writing showcased. Here at Southampton, you can be a student blogger for the uni itself, you can write for Wessex Scene, The Edge, or The Tab student publications, you can enter the English department’s writing competitions, or even apply to write for The Guardian Students. If you get recognised for any of this work, it could lead on to writing for other publications too, so go ahead and get acquainted with WordPress!
5. Picking up a completely new hobby
Other than charity and volunteering, if you’re not feeling particularly philanthropic you can get involved with other fun things like sports and recreational societies – life drawing, debating, Quidditch, you name it! You will probably never have this much time to take up something completely novel ever again, so why not spend some time at uni trying to?
6. Long summers and random days off
Nothing quite beats a holiday from uni. There is no pressure to have a real job or responsibilities in the fairy-land that is a uni holiday – you have the excuse of being a student. You can gallivant all you like and flash your student ID in all sorts of places to get discounts on doing fun things. Don’t waste your summers bumming about, spend that time wisely and do some internships, go travelling or go on a long hike! Also, take advantage of the fact that you have yet to acquire a 9-5 job, and utilise those odd weekdays you have off. Everything is quieter and more serene – for a claustrophobe like me, this means avoiding cramped situations as much as possible, which consequently means doing anything e.g. shopping, going to the park etc. on the weekends is Hell on Earth. Spend uni days off doing little city trips or going to do your shopping. It is so much less exhausting…
7. Careers advice
Did you know Southampton run a LinkedIn workshop where you can get one of those snazzy corporate mugshots taken of you? Each faculty within the uni will offer workshops and CV labs to help you maximise your assets and your employability. There is an entire team dedicated to helping you out, and it is free as a student to seek advice. You can also use the Careers portal to look for work and volunteering opportunities.
8. Free talks
The University are always offering interesting subject talks in evenings and lunchtimes, not just on your subject but cross-curricularly too! They’re usually free so you get to feel clever learning about something new, and it might even spur on a new ambition or career trajectory. They can also usually be good networking opportunities to meet people in the field. Of course, they are often open to the public, but it’s so much more convenient if you’re two minutes away in Hartley Library!