August 29, 2023
Starting a new academic year at university is never easy, even as a returning student. There are many things that go into being a successful study that don’t always pertain to just studying more. Here are some exclusive key tips to having a great start to your year.

Schedule Strategically

One of the first things you should do is create a scheduling system that will help you to keep up with everything during your busiest times, which will be the first month or two. Your university may have a platform, like an app, that shows you when your seminars and lectures are taking place, but having your own set plan allows you to make additions, edits, etc.

Having a personal planner also allows you to add extra-curricular/non-university events. You will find that once you start university, there will be many events you will get invited to or can sign up to, and it can become overwhelming to the point that you could be unable to keep on top of attending all of them. Make sure to consistently update your planner and check it daily – preferably, the night before.

Attend Careers Fairs & Events

Make sure to take full advantage of any careers fairs and events taking place at your university, especially during recruitment ‘hunting season’. These events are a great way to find out where you want to apply and what work experience opportunities you are eligible for.

Most importantly, it will give you information on future application dates to keep note of and can give you more personalised and advantageous insight for making your law applications later on. Also, recruiters like to see examples and evidence of how you have built your interest in the firm.

Find out more about submitting a successful application to law firm open days.


Get on Top of Your Applications

Check out this guide to find out how to master your law firm applications

Learn More

Establish Essential Contacts

Before starting your modules, make sure to find out all the necessary contacts you will need to succeed and survive throughout the year. This includes:

  • Degree department
  • Wellbeing tutor
  • GP/medical services
  • Personal tutor
  • Module convenor/tutor
  • Student Finance, etc.

When you finish doing this, make sure to compile these details in an easily accessible place.

Manage Finances Wisely

As a student, it is important to handle your money efficiently, so that you do not compromise your education by having to also work (on a full-time scale). Take time to figure out how much income you will receive based on SFE, personal savings, grants, employment, etc.

If you are working to get more money, try not to be too ambitious with your income estimation – especially if your employment is a zero-hour contract. Based on this, create a budget for your maximum spend for each month. If you want to, you could go further and assign budget allocations to each need like food, travel, etc.

Before joining or resuming university, you should also spend time researching student discounts and benefits that are available. The main source for student discounts is UniDays and Student Beans. Another example: you can apply for free prescriptions, reduced dental care, etc., by filling out a HC2 form with the NHS. You can request this at your local pharmacy or GP.

In terms of food, it is advisable to do one big shop at the beginning of each month and make meal preps each week. It is most ideal that the only groceries you buy throughout the month are perishables and groceries you finish quickly like milk, juice, eggs, etc.

When you do your first/monthly shop, make sure to get staple grocery items, so that as the months go along, you will not need to buy as many things. This includes rice, cereal, flour, oil, sauces, seasoning, etc.

Read more about budgeting at university.

Prepare For Your Studies

If you are a first year, especially, it is best not to completely launch into studying in your first few weeks and focus on balancing establishing yourself as a student.

You may find it useful to do some pre-reading before starting university, but you will succeed more as a student if you start by organising and being in control of the start of your undergraduate year. Start by going through your module content and then you could:

  • Decide what medium you will use to collate your study notes and complete exercises, like on paper or digitally
  • Purchase any study aids you think will be helpful like flashcards, study clocks, stationery, etc.
  • Make a list of any compulsory/suggested resources for your module and find out how to access/buy them
  • Create an information depository folder for each of your modules
  • Create a folder that includes all the information about the assessment format for each module. If applicable, this folder should also include all of the essay questions you can pick from for your final essay. Throughout the weeks, as you learn more content, you can go back to the questions to decide what essay you want to write

Check out our top study techniques for acing your law degree.

Build Networks & Connections

Connect, connect, connect!!! Your connections will go a long way, especially the ones you make on your modules. Your connections can benefit you in many ways and become your friends, accountability partners, study buddies, career contact, etc.

Even if you are not interested in making new friends, building a network will help you survive as a young person, and this can be as diverse as you want it to be. It is based on your understanding on what you need in your current path and what you are drawn to. You can build your network in class, lectures, society events, networking events, study spaces, etc. It may not seem like it, but no one knows what they are doing and would appreciate being approached.

Check out our guide on how to network like a lawyer.

Stay On Top Of Your Admin

Finally, make sure to sort out any admin issues before starting your modules. The necessary tasks will look different for each person. For example, this could be switching your GP to your university one or setting up counselling, repeat prescriptions, etc. This could also include setting up meeting series with your personal tutor, setting up a student bank account, etc.

It is best to do this before your workload begins to increase so that you don’t feel too overwhelmed to do anything or start to experience any early onset stress.

Thrive Beyond Studying

Embracing a successful academic year involves more than just excelling in your studies; it’s about personal growth and balance. While your coursework is paramount, remember to explore opportunities beyond the classroom that contribute to your holistic development. Building a network isn’t just a career strategy; it’s a way to connect with like-minded peers, potential mentors, and future collaborators. Attend society events, networking sessions, and extracurricular activities that resonate with your interests. Even if forging new friendships isn’t your primary goal, creating a diverse network enriches your experiences and perspectives. Approach others with curiosity – you might be surprised by the connections you make!


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