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20 Tips I Learned as a First Year Student At Essex

20 Tips I Learned as a First Year Student At Essex

For some, university is the first time many will live away from family, do their own washing, and their own cooking! Many people have never had to face being solely independent, however, university will mark the beginning of this process… from Kidulthood to Adulthood. Keep reading for 20 tips for first year students at Essex!

1. Visit Employ-ability and Careers centre.

For anyone who goes to Essex University, we all know how important the centre is, which is located on Square 2 on the Colchester campus. You don’t have to know your exact career path, nor do you have to be in 3 rd year before you visit them. The centre provides free professional support, regarding interview tips and C.V write-up, all to improve your employ-ability. So, by the time you become an Essex graduate, employers are chasing you, instead of you chasing them!

students at Essex


2. Join Societies.

Visiting the Student Union website, there will be plenty of societies to join! Many societies do not require you to have previous experience/knowledge and are ready to take you on board as long as you remain a dedicated member! from learning how to pole dance, to building confidence with public speaking or even just finding sporting activities such as Rugby or netball to burn away calories. Finding a society to join, will enable you to socialise with people with similar interests to yourself, keep active and also potentially leave a lasting legacy by creating your own society! With 7 convenes in the Societies Guild, you are bound to find something, which tickles your fancy!

3. Use your peer mentors/course reps.

Regardless of the course you study, there are peer mentors and course representatives for everyone! These students are here to help you adjust to the change in environment, address any concerns you may have, but also communicate with your lecturers if you are unable to do so for whatever reason! During Welcome week, your peer mentors should email you introducing themselves, it would be useful to reply back to their message and get to know them! Your course representatives, will also be in touch shortly so look out for them!


4. Set yourself a budget.

Any form of budget, whether weekly or monthly will be highly beneficial and will have you saving ££££! Lets say a monthly budget of x, this will leave x amount to spend each day. This will allow you to spend more a particular week, if you have managed to stick under budget, similarly will enable you to spend less if you’ve had far too little many blue lagoons at the S.U bar! Make sure you extend your budget just for Freshers week, as this involves greasy food, alcohol, and some alcohol and more alcohol…

5. Open a student account with a bank.

Student accounts make it easier to manage your money, but also offer benefits only people in higher education can enjoy. Most students decide to take out an overdraft, if they are really in need, the bank allows you to spend more money than you have (at no extra cost). The best banks to open student accounts with:

  • Natwest
  • Santander (Located on SQ 4- Colchester campus)
  • Barclays
  • Co- op
  • Llyods (Located on SQ 3- Colchester campus)

6. Make the Albert Sloman your best friend!

Our famous library, which the entrance is located via square 5 side of the library, or through the automatic doors from the Student Centre. The library enables you to search and borrow books, but also offers the opportunity to study in quiet areas or even as a group. Floor 5 is usually the quietest, near the back of the library where you’ll need to bring your own laptop. I would advise you to bring your own adapter too, as sometimes not enough sockets are available. Use this site to check the availability of seats on each floor!

Melly Lee librarian library amanda suk passing the book

7. Look for cheaper books online.

Use discounted student textbook sites to search for the books listed in ‘essentials’ by your lecturers. Usually used versions can be found online for almost 50% cheaper, or even older editions, which generally have the same information. Look for discounted textbooks here.


8. If you live off campus: meal prep.

Considering I was wise enough to live on campus, throughout my university years, meal prep wasn’t really a necessity as I could scurry along home in a matter of seconds, however I still did anyway as it kept me organised. I suggest if you live off campus, i.e. Avon way, Maltings, Mascot etc. Food prepping will save you a lot of money! Making meals and freezing them for the week, will ensure you have lunch to eat on campus, without spending extra money! This way you can think about what to eat for dinner and whether it should be a Frangos, Domino’s, Sahara grill salad.

cooking baking clarissa explains it all janet darling elizabeth hess

9. Join the Freshers page on social media.

Students at Essex should be following the uni on Social media, will keep you updated with all the latest news, but also all the ‘hotspots’ for predrinks before an event such as the famous Towers! In addition, you may find other students who study the same courses as you, or are simply posting questions which you may also be struggling to seek answers for.


facebook social media popular big bang theory sheldon cooper

10. Stay on your A game!

It is important that you never forget WHY you’re in university, sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but it is very easy to get lost in the clouds. Being focused from first year, makes it easier to ease into the 2nd and 3rd year, which if I’m honest do get considerably harder. Many people use the phrase “1st year doesn’t count” which is a fair point, but if you DO want a placement/internship, your first year will count. Besides employers will look at your first year results and ask ‘what happened?’ *confused face*. Consistency is key!! 9k a year is no joke either.

11. Make use of Workshops.

These are run by the Talent Development centre (TDC), make sure you take advantage of these! Workshops at the Colchester Campus will be held in the TDC Helpdesk area of the Silberrad Student centre. TDC also offer maths and statistics help. The workshops will include:

  • How to structure long essays
  • Harvard referencing
  • Structuring a dissertation research paper
  • Structuring a science research paper
  • Online library search skills

12. Compare prices when shopping.

It’s always good to cut on unnecessary costs, spend a day just comparing prices when shopping, whether online or in store. ‘Student Lock in’ occurs in Colchester town, where all the stores do a student discount evening, this usually occurs sometime within first term so save your money for this event. Also, don’t forget to sign up to uni days! Thank me later.

13. Live on campus.

You’ll get to experience the true Essex spirit, with whatever accommodation you get. Whether its sociable towers, or the lovely meadows.


14. Go over lecture slides prior to the lecture and after.

This will ensure it becomes a habit, which you take into 2nd and third year, ensuring your familiar with lecture content will make it easier for you when it comes to revision period, as you won’t be learning. You’ll be revising.


friends college hour gap lectures

15. Go through the Learning objectives.

This method doesn’t always work with everyone, but it works for many. In your module handbook, a list of learning objectives are provided, what you should be able to do by the end of the module. If you go through each learning objective, and answering them as questions, I guarantee you will get good grades.

16. Find a quiet work place.

Finding quiet work areas will come in handy, when the workload gets a bit much and stress levels are being raised. You can find live availability of the labs, so it will be in your best interest to check online, before heading out. Underneath the SU Bar, are a few labs which are quiet.

  • Lab F is also OK, but can be fairly busy at peak times.
  • Sometimes labs within the Teaching Centre are open these are the best!
  • (Lab O)

17. Register with the GP on campus.

Registering with a GP close to you, will be very important, so ensure you switch doctors from where you live, to the campus doctor as you will be spending majority of your time at uni!

18. Freshers week enjoy!!!!

So, Freshers week and ‘The End’ ( You’ll find out what this is in 3 rd year), will basically be the best weeks of your life at uni! It involves being care free, using the safety bus, and plenty of alcohol. You’ll stumble across drunk girls complimenting each other in the bathroom and guys competing with each other about who can down the most Heineken’s. It’s a time to enjoy yourself, mingle and just get head lost before the real hard work starts! Look out for the list of events which will be happening during fresher’s, these should be found in your accommodation.

drinking bar alcohol shots happy hour


19. Attend Sports Fed!

Wednesday nights in Sub-zero from 11pm! Just a night of banter, to celebrate 2 days till the weekend, but also sport teams/ supporters who just wanna party hard! It’s a fun night to just socialise and meet new people… ! So make sure you at least go to one Fed night, especially if you love Pop music, RnB or House!!

20. Have an open mind-set!

Many people attend uni not knowing what to expect, but that’s perfectly fine, uni is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. You may come across people with various backgrounds from yourself, people who think and even communicate differently. But the key to successfully getting through university, is not only to keep on top of your work and get the best possible grades, but to also be accepting to the change in your surroundings. Enjoy yourself as one of the many first year students at Essex!

Do you have anything to add to this list of 20 tips for first year students at Essex? Share and comment below!
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