Surviving First Year Academia

First year can be academically daunting, but there are ways to make sure you feel ready and prepared for the step up to University. In this article, our advice editor, Molly, gives a word of comfort and advice to anyone who may be worrying about first-year anxieties.

By Molly Govus

remember the summer between sixth form and university being the longest summer of my life.

I needed it; I’d consistently worked hard for a good three of four years towards those three grades in a brown envelope. It was like after crossing the finish line of a race; a sigh of relief, a period of relaxation and an abundance of treating myself for my hard work. After all, you deserve to give yourself some down time after one of the hardest academic periods of your life, but be sure not to let your work ethic slip in your first year of university.

It’s a given; first year is for finding your feet, getting to know other people and generally living independently. The working hours drop considerably but that doesn’t mean your work ethic should, too. The one thing that came as a shock to me was my timetable; I went from having a structured full day to having only eight hours a week. Looking back, I learnt that time management is essential, and I truly cannot stress this enough. It can seem daunting at first; most of the hours in the day are free to use for literally anything.

Understandably, it is a scary yet exhilarating realisation when you have full responsibility over the abundance of time that is given to you, but I would encourage you to use this to your advantage. Personally, I thrive off structure, so I wrote myself a little mock timetable of things to do in the day, no matter how mundane the activity may seem. It can be hard to feel motivated when you’re boxed into halls in Talybont, but I promise that it is something time and good habits will fix.

The saying of a ‘little fish in a big pond’ perfectly encapsulates how I felt once teaching started. It’s very easy to be anxious about referencing, seminars, lectures and even how to get a book out of the library, but rest assured, the support for students in first year is second to none. From writing and referencing workshops to time management handouts, your subject school will have support that is easily accessible to you. 

Ultimately, I think ‘balance’ is the key word to keep in mind throughout your first year. Finding the point in the middle of work and play is what will help you thrive as a first-year student and there’s nothing that time and good habits can’t fix.

If you have any concerns about your own or someone else’s wellbeing, do not hesitate to contact Cardiff University’s Help & Advice team or visit their webpage at:


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