How Do I Make the Most of my University Experience?

Mariana is this week’s agony aunt, reflecting on her time in Leeds and offering advice on how to make the most of your uni experience.

Welcome to the University of Leeds! I’m Mariana and I just graduated from Leeds this year. Here are my tips for making the most of your university experience.

Step out of your comfort zone and get to know as many people as you can because one of the best things I got out of university was friends.

Be social

One of the greatest things about university is the way it brings people together. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a space as diverse and as welcoming. Make the most of it by talking to as many people as you can. You’ll likely surprise yourself with the number of interesting people you meet and how quickly you make friends, even with students you didn’t think you would get along with. Especially during the initial months of First Year, when most students don’t know many people and friendship groups have yet to form, students will be extremely open. Step out of your comfort zone and get to know as many people as you can because one of the best things I got out of university was friends.

Try new things

It’s good to have a plan, but it’s equally important to remain openminded. In my experience, one of the best things you can do at uni is experiment! Throw yourself into different societies, talk to people you wouldn’t normally have approached, attend events, travel… If you do this, you will surprise yourself with what you discover – new hobbies, new friends, new skills – and you will grow as a person.

Fill your time

Time is probably the most coveted possession university students have. Put it to good use by getting involved with different societies, by going to events and on trips, by chilling with your friends, and by going on nights out. (Oh and make sure you leave some time for studying. That part is often forgotten!) Leeds has a brilliant nightlife, so experience it for yourself and make some memories. That said, don’t feel pressured to go out. Everyone needs space and a break from time to time, so listen to your needs and care for your mental and physical health.

Manage your expectations

This is an uncomfortable piece of advice to hear but valuable all the same. Many students come to university with a lot of expectations: that they will make friends for life, that they will have picked an ideal course, and that these are going to be ‘the best years of their lives’. It’s good to have hopes and ambitions because they propel you, but having too many expectations can put unnecessary pressure on your time at university, and detract from the experience. Manage your expectations so that if some aren’t met, you don’t stay overly focused on what is lacking and remain blind to the valuable unexpected things that happen. That said, let me reassure you that more likely than not, you will get what you want out of uni. So stop worrying and start enjoying the moments as they come!

Set goals for yourself

Every student at university is filled with potential and Leeds offers countless opportunities for you to realise or develop this. Your university experience will be more fulfilling if you feel that it has had purpose and that it has kept you moving forward. That’s why it’s important to set goals for yourself and work towards accomplishing them. As you make your way through uni and start getting more involved with societies and your studies, identify opportunities and make plans, like going on a gap year or a placement year, becoming an LUU Exec member, or becoming an editor at The Gryphon.

Mariana Avelino