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'What we wish someone had told us before starting university'

We asked our student nurse readers what they wish they’d been told before starting uni, and you get to hear the juicy bits …

Going away to university can be a scary thing, and if you’re like a lot of other students, no one seems to have anything useful to say to you. (How many times have you heard the phrase “I know you’ll do great” by now?) As a student currently attending university, these are a few things I wish people had told me before I went.

  • Save money. As most of us well know, being a student sucks away a lot of money, and you don’t want to graduate with a huge amount of debt. Start saving even before you go off to school and try not to be too frivolous with your spending. Saving a little money for a night out with friends is fine, but do you really need to buy a new pair of shoes? Buying used books is a great way to save money as well.
  • Get involved. There will be a lot of new things to see and do, so don’t stick only to what you know. Being in clubs or groups is a great way to meet people, even if it’s not an activity you’ve done before. When I started uni, I joined a dance troupe, even though I had very little dance experience. It was a lot of fun and many of the girls I met there are currently close friends of mine.
  • Give yourself time to adjust. It’s normal to not feel completely at home right away, even though it may seem like other students do. You’re not the only one who’s nervous.
  • Don’t get behind on classwork. Be prepared to work hard, because uni is bound to be a lot harder than what you’re used to. It’s easy to leave things until the last minute, especially reading assignments, but it’s a bad idea. I stopped doing my reading assignments for one class, and ended up reading six weeks’ worth of material the day before my final exam. Oops.
  • Ask questions if you’re unsure about things. Most people are more than willing to help you out if you need it, especially if you’re a new student. Nobody wants to see you wandering around lost and confused.
  • Do things you’re comfortable with. Don’t completely disregard things simply because you think you should be trying something new. Whether your idea of having fun is reading a book, watching TV, or going out clubbing in the evenings, by all means keep doing those things when you get to uni. Yet at the same time, don’t be afraid to stretch your comfort zone. There will be plenty of opportunities to discover new, fun, things to do.
  • Let yourself freak out if you need to. You’re in a new place doing new things, and it’s natural that you might be feeling a little stressed out or homesick. However, don’t dwell on the things that make you anxious. Once you start thinking about one thing, it’s very easy to let everything you’re worried about pile up on you. Try to deal with one thing at a time, and try not to worry too much. You’re not the only one who has gone through this, and if everyone before you could do it, then so can you.
  • Get to know your peers. The friends you study with in uni will be the ones who stay with you for life. You’ll meet people who are interested in the same things as you, and therefore understand where you’re coming from. I’ve never been one to hang out with big crowds of people, but the small group of friends I’ve made in uni is very close-knit. Friends are definitely one of the best things that will come out of your experience.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Florence

    I have to admit I would struggle to reccomend Nursing as a career to anyone. I remember a few years back my Husbands' Friend asked me to talk to his Daughter about Nursing. Fortunatley the wee girl was very sensible and realistic. I managed to talk sensibly to her and give her what I felt was a fair and honest account of Nursing today. Unfortunatley due to health reasons she chose another career.
    Despite, the challenges Ive faced, I wouldn't change careers.However I understand why many people do.
    I think it's only fair to be honest about the realities of studying to become a Nurse and what to expect on qualifying and beyond that. There are still alot of great things about Nursing, in my opinion anyway,but it does involve alot of personal sacrifice and very hard work.
    I think that people interested in studying to become a Qualified Nurse need to complete some type of preparation such as a type of course or work experience to give them real insight into the job. I realise that there are people who currently work as HCA'S or in roles in the NHS who may not need this type of preparation.
    I did an old- fashioned Pre- nursing course, based on NVQ'S and obviously with blocks of practical experience prior to training in 1990.It gave me some insight into the job and some Students did drop out as they realised that Nursing wasn't for them.
    In some ways as Nurses we can be our own worst enemies. We aren't consistently able to look after ourselves as a professionand personally.
    However the system doesn't support us in doing so. Thats what we have to break through. And thats another topic altogether !!

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