Clearing 2015: Get the right mindset and enjoy your university years

Prepare for hard work and hangovers, dissertations and Domino's Pizza

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The Independent Online

Congratulations! Choosing to dedicate at least three years of your life to higher education is one of the best decisons you’ll ever make. As the ever ebullient Rafa Benítez would no doubt add: “FACT”. From the full power revellery of Freshers’ week to that all-important graduation ceremony, the next few years of your precious life are going to flash by in a whirlwind of lectures and lager, hard work and hangovers, dissertations and Domino’s Pizza. And soul searching. Lots of soul searching.

In fact, you’ll probably learn more about yourself in your first year away from the family home than you ever thought possible. From judiciously juggling your last pennies in the student union bar, to learning to rustle up a feast fit for a king – or at least a tomato pasta dish for your new best uni friends – it’s not just the degree at the end that counts. The life skills you pick up along the way are just as important as that coveted piece of paper on graduation day. Many would argue even more so. Though obviously you should really aim to pass your course with flying colours. Or your old bedroom at your parents’ house may well be sublet before you return – not so triumphantly – three years from now.

A decent grade will keep you ahead of the opposition in that all-important hunt for that first post-uni position. And don’t forget that today’s course mates are tomorrow’s job competitors – anything that can give you the edge over them should be embraced. I’m not suggesting you treat your whole time at uni as some twisted Big Brother-esque scenario where scoring points over your ‘pals’ is your raison d’être. Just be aware that over the next three years you have a fantastic educational opportunity which should be grasped with both hands.

Today’s degree costs and the amount of students opting to head off to university have both rapidly risen over the years. Many years ago when I started my own degree, just securing a place on a course put you pretty much in pole position in the job market. But to be fair, these were the days when One Direction’s parents were still in short pants, Apple made beige computers for rich geeks devoid of any social skills and geek chic was just a figment of their feverish minds.

It’s still an achievement to secure a spot on your dream course. And, if you don’t get the A-level grades you were hoping for, it’s not the end of the world. You could use Clearing, go down the retake route or even try a pre-uni gap year. Sometimes your Plan B can be even more rewarding that your Plan A. Embrace the change, go with the flow, and throw yourself into whatever you do.

You probably don’t need reminding that it’s good to let your hair down and have fun – at least once in a while. It’s your perogative. After all, you’ve spent all of your school days working up to this. Celebrate your success. Join some societies – and not just the ones whose sole aim seems to be to down the most shots while dressed head-to-toe in dayglo. Try to use your holidays wisely, as any work experience will stand you in good stead on that CV, as well as hopefully making some dent in your ever-increasing debts. And a word to the wise: unlike my cohort, preparing for post-uni life before the final term of your final year can help launch your career. Good luck.

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