When you think of student life there may be a stereotype that comes to mind. But the reality is that the experience is different for every person.
It’s normal to have a lot of expectations before you come to university, but what should you really expect from your time as a student? We address some of the most common misconceptions so that you can get an idea of what life as a student might look like.
Student Loans are an impossible debt
Many people worry that paying off a student loan puts them in lots of debt that they can’t deal with. However, student loan companies are well-governed, and this ensures you pay back your loans in a way that you can afford, based on your employment salary.
You will only begin to pay back your loan once you start earning over a certain amount per year from your employment. Repayments are (currently) a fixed 9% of what you earn over that threshold. These repayments are taken from your pay each month before it goes into your bank account, just like how national insurance is deducted. The amount you pay is based on how much you earn, ensuring you are only ever paying back what you can afford.
The first year doesn’t count
You'll probably get told at some point that "first year doesn't count". Although the marks you get in your first year don't go towards your final degree classification, you need to pass your first year to move onto the second year of your course.
Your marks and feedback can provide valuable insight into how well you're doing and what you might need to do to improve. The knowledge and skills you learn in your first year lays the foundations for the following years of your course, so it is important not to discount it and soak up as much information as possible.
You’ll miss out if you don’t drink alcohol
It's entirely your choice whether you drink, but you don't need to do it to have a good time.
Many of our students don't drink at all and there are lots of ways to spend your time aside from in the bars and nightclubs. We have over 100 clubs and societies that you can join to meet likeminded people and the cities and towns of South Wales have plenty to offer from walking clubs and art exhibitions to comedy nights and theatres.
You can't work while studying
Some courses can be very time-intensive, however, having a part-time job can help with your studies and teach you important time management skills. To be successful, you'll need to be organised, which can push you to learn to make better use of your time and stick to deadlines.
Doing some part-time work can have other benefits such as easing money pressures, providing you with a different circle of friends, and experience for your CV
You can’t have a social life and good grades
Just as you need to get the balance right between a job and university work, you need to ensure you look at your social life in the same way so you don't risk of falling behind or missing out on all the fun!
Much of university life is about learning life skills and joining in with activities outside of your course. With good time management skills and planning you can make the most of both worlds.
Students can't cook and have terrible diets
This may be the case for some, but not all students live up to this stereotype. If you can't cook yet, you'll probably pick it up quickly, maybe with a few initial disasters. Invest in a cookbook full of easy meal ideas and recipes that are manageable on a student budget. There are also many great recipes to be found online such as BBC Good Food‘s Essential recipes for University.
You won't be able to cope away from home
Lots of people have these uncertainties and it is a natural worry. We all adjust differently and while some may feel homesick others may even feel guilty about not missing home at all!
Early nerves are often overcome once you meet your new friends and settle into the new surroundings. It is also very easy to keep in touch with family and friends through video-calling or by organising a trip home occasionally.
If you do find yourself struggling to adapt to life at university, there are a number of University Support Services that can help you overcome any challenges you might be facing.
Without your family you won’t have support
We like to think of our staff and students as one big USW Family, so rest assured that you will always have somebody to turn to in times of need. We proudly offer a range of support services available to all USW students. You can access a list of our Support Services here.