I realised the other day during a deep thinking session (in the shower of course) that if I was to go back to University and do my degree all over again, I might actually quite like it. And maybe I would have tried harder.
Because I really, really didn’t when I did go.
I also realised that it’s been eight years since I started at Cardiff University for my Law and Politics degree and that was a whole other existential crisis.
And because hindsight is a bloody wonderful thing, I got to thinking about all the things I would have done differently when I was there.
Done anything in the first year.
I know it’s sometimes slightly different at other Universities, by my first year didn’t count at all. So I completely pissed it away.
Now I’m old and slightly wiser, I realise what a big mistake that was.
For example, when I looked into applying for training contracts or to big law firms, they asked me what my results were in that first year.
They could have been a lot worse, I didn’t fail any modules. But I still only scraped by.
And I know why that was. Most of the nights before my exams I was watching Eastenders or going out for drinks.
Those crap results meant that I often didn’t try applying to big firms later on who wanted to know my module results.
Not only that but nowadays I can look back and see that doing those modules and doing those exams, even though they didn’t count, would have been the foundation for the rest of my University life. For example, it was only when I was in my third year that I realised I’d been doing something very small in my exams that prevented me from getting higher marks. Maybe if I’d been more proactive after first year, I would have found that out earlier and made things a lot easier for myself.
Started looking for job opportunities earlier.
Even though I knew from some of my friends that they’d already started thinking about the future and what they wanted to do when our three years were up, I didn’t bother. I kinda figured that it would all fall into place.
I actually ended up applying for my Master’s degree place on a complete whim on the last day applications were open. I was lucky I was accepted and the whole thing worked out for me. But, I needn’t have put myself under that stress. I also needn’t have given my Mum a very valid excuse to have a massive go at me for “always leaving things to the last minute“.
I’ll always wonder what would have happened if I’d looked for jobs/training contracts when I was in my third year.
I had no intention of being a lawyer then. Now so much time has passed I’ve always thought about whether not going into law was the right decision for me. Especially as my career in politics has become limited as time has moved on. And I’d probably be earning an absolute fuck ton more.
Don’t get me wrong – things worked out in the end. I’ve had some wonderful experiences in politics that I wouldn’t change for the world, but the idea of having to go back to University these days to finish off becoming a lawyer doesn’t appeal (and neither does the £15K cost). I think I would have been more open to the idea.
I just kinda wish I’d kept my options open, and been a teeny bit more organised.
Gone to lectures.
I remember one lecturer telling us off for not attending lectures because if we worked out how much each one cost we wouldn’t dare miss them.
Of course, I didn’t. I often preferred multiple naps, the desperation of getting over a hangover or literally anything to avoid attending. Especially EU law, which was as dull as dishwater and on a Tuesday evening at 6 pm.
It was only when I went to sit my Contract Law exam that I realised I’d only been to two of the lectures that year. I was lucky because my friend Marina (shout out if you read this Marina, I can probably never thank you enough) often helped me out with notes.
It was just so daft. I only had 12 hours of contact time each week. I could have gone to more and it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. Instead, I created a ridiculous amount of work for myself when it came to revision.
I never did work out the price-per-lecture, but I went to Uni when tuition fees were £3,000, not £9,000. I dread to think what it would be these days!
I don’t know what happened to me when it came to revising at Uni. I definitely peaked during my A-levels and revised all the time there. But I just kinda gave up when it came to Uni.
In the end, I had to do a number of all nighters fueled by cans of Relentless. If you’ve ever had more than two cans of Relentless in one night, you’ll know that the feeling of an impending death by heart attack is not something to be repeated.
Joined a society.
This is probably quite closely related to being lazy, but I was also highly anxious about going to events. I’m sure that played a part in me not getting involved.
I mean, sure, I did the whole freshers fayre thing of going to look at the society stalls and getting the free Dominos pizza, but I wish I’d bothered getting involved.
I went to the Law society and quickly realised that it wasn’t for me. The I went to the Politics society and there was barely anything going on.
Part of me wishes that I had taken the reigns and made sure the politics society was doing things. I imagine I would have made a number of contacts that could have stuck with me for life.
And I could have had fun and made more friends and that’s never something to turn down.
Done a summer internship.
This one is a little contentious for me. I don’t think my bank balance would have stretched to doing an internship in London. I can barely afford to live here now, even with a wage. But I wish I’d looked into it. I might have been lucky enough to find a paid internship. Or even better, a relevant internship back in Birmingham.
When it came to looking for a job after University I really didn’t have enough experience. I found the whole process excruciatingly hard. As a result found myself unemployed for 8 months.
I spent my summers working in a hotel. While it got me some dollar, it didn’t get me experience for real life adult jobs.
People will sometimes think you’re a bit of a swot at Uni if you look into these things, but secretly, a lot of people are doing it. And so they should.
Worried less about what I looked like.
I used to spend ages getting ready for University in the morning. Sometimes I even put off going to lectures because I was worried about what the other girls would be wearing. It was so ridiculously unnecessary. I mean, if that’s what you want to do then go for it. At the same time, I wish I hadn’t caved so often into pressure from the other people.
At the end of the day, it’s just a class and I was often in lectures with hundreds of other people. It’s safe to say that no one was looking at me.
I put so much weight on at University, some of which, even now, I still haven’t managed to shed. Who knew that excess alcohol and pizzas on the way home from a night out could have such a bad impact eh? I could absolutely throttle myself when I think about it. I had so much time to spare that I could have easily gone to the gym.
Being at University can be quite an unhealthy experience. It doesn’t have to be. Finding cheap healthy meals can be done with a bit of research. I wish I’d put the effort in.