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A 2017 Graduate's Perspective of the University Experience

Believe your tutors when they tell you that three years can go by in the blink of an eye

Me On Graduation Day

Hello, my name is Kristopher Cook, and I am graduating Northumbria University with a First Class Degree in Media and Journalism; a journey that began three years ago, in what I can only describe as a blur. Believe your tutors when they tell you that three years can go by in the blink of an eye because it does. 

If you are about to begin university or are reading this because you are questioning whether or not to apply for university then I hope to help alleviate some fears you may have in this article. You see, I was also apprehensive; initially choosing my course simply because of the word 'Media' in the title and having no clear idea on what I wanted to do as a career. It was only through my own decisions and goals gained through nothing but the course that has put me in this position now writing about it. 

You will feel a jolt at first. If this is your first time moving away from home and learning to fend for yourself then don't worry you'll get used to it, especially once you've managed to make friends with the people you live with (people who are in exactly the same situation as you). 

Freshers is a must for anyone who wants to get a first experience of uni life. It's a great way of getting a feel for the 24/7 lifestyle of most students. My first year consisted of a lot of nights out and a lot less studying—which reflected a lot in my grades. This was due to me not really taking uni all that seriously, I thought of the loans and bursaries as nothing but a bottomless piggy bank that I could just dip my hands into whenever I wanted. If anything, your first year will be a Turing test to see how little you know of the subject, and once you've finished partying, what you're going to do about it. 

My second year I switched the alcohol for textbooks and my nights out ended up mostly within the library or at work where I worked as bar staff for the O2 Academy. At first, it did feel a little out of the ordinary, after all, I was so used to a certain lifestyle, living party to party, with uni just looming there in the background. Once I began applying myself to the course I generally started to feel a lot happier with my course and morale for the work increased a lot. The work I'd so often moan about finishing became an anchor for me sending off that work to organisations and employers that would so often give me feedback. My course was based on writing, and going into the course I could barely write one sentence without it blinding someone with errors. Knuckling down and studying helped get my writing published in multiple magazines and online sites—something I thought was impossible—all within my second year. 

You'll often hear of people complain about paying "9 grand for this." Don't listen to these people. More often than not these are the types of people who have continued their first year antics and blame their academic failures on the course when they haven't shown up to a lecture in weeks, and even if they do turn up, they look like they've been dragged through a hedge backwards while trying to apply their makeup with Homer Simpson's makeup gun. That's not to say that you shouldn't celebrate your achievements, not at all. Just pick your occasions and don't focus too much on one thing over the other. Both in equal measure will keep you from not only going insane but will also help you remember those funky dance moves you learnt in first year. 

By the time my third year came around, I found things to be a lot easier. Not only did I approach my work differently but I also had the confidence to back it up with the knowledge I'd gained through networking with other journalists and companies. For me, second year was more difficult than the third simply because of me adapting to university as someone who was completely invested in their course and not just the lifestyle. Now I find myself in the situation of being a graduate with a First Class Degree and am planning on doing a Masters Degree either in September or next year depending on any job offers that have already began to head my way. 

The point of my story is to identify what you want out of life and how university is going to help you in achieving that. You'll, of course, have a different experience to me because everybody is different, but you'll be surprised in just how many graduates feel the same, I'm just the one telling you about it.

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