Back in 2013, I wrote a post about my first semester of university (click here to read it).
I thought I'd do another post about the first year in general for anyone who's considering studying law at university but this could pretty much apply to any other course too.
So in the post from last year, I mentioned that there's no point going to lectures if you aren't going to get anything out of them. To an extent, that is true. But unless you don't listen at all or your lecturer is completely useless, there is something to get out of them. I found that lecturers will often mention a topic a lot if there was good chance it would pop up on the exam.
Also, lecturers will give lots of advice and tips in the lectures that they won't always give out outside of lectures so turning up won't harm you in any way.
Now in my first year, I wrote mostly in notebooks. (I sometimes use a laptop in my second year). It was hard to focus on lectures if I was writing down all the time so I tried to just listen but that didn't work. Always take a notebook or laptop to a lecture just in case you have to take notes. Also, if your lecturer has a tendency to go through lecture slides quickly and doesn't upload them, think about taking pictures of slides with your notes. But remember to turn flash off.
I've learned the really nasty habit of snacking through lectures and it's awful. It's noisy. It's rude. I'm trying to stop but it's hard since I get bored. If you are going to snack, ditch the noisy packets and use small boxes. Eat food that won't make a mess like small candy sweets. Also, avoid crisps; they're too noisy.
Tutorials give you a chance to learn the information in detail and get some feedback. Most of my tutors have been pretty good but some of them were not as great. They will all have different expectations of you. Try and meet them but if you have an unreasonable tutor, just relax and don't kill yourself over it. I had a tutor in my second semester of the first year who hated me and was always telling me to work harder and told me I was going to fail. I studied at my own speed and ignored him. In the end, I did pretty well in that module.
But always remember to get at least 50% of the work done before going otherwise you're going to really not take in much.
And always greet them with a smile and say hello. Most will appreciate the friendliness and manners. Some will just grunt and ignore you but trust me, they're in the minority.
There's a lot of competition in university and sometimes it really sucks. Some people are a bit iffy about letting other people look at their notes so make some really good friends who you know will help you out if you need help. But remember to always give back. You can't expect help from other students if you never help them yourself.
The library is a fantastic space but try and minimise the noise in there. I've nearly been kicked out numerous times for being so loud. Try and avoid going to a quiet study area with a friend. Take some water and snacks for the intense study sessions. And clean up after yourself. If you don't have a laptop/macbook/ultrabook, then think about getting one. You aren't always going to find a spare computer.
Keep your notes safe and take good ones to begin with so when it comes to revision, you will already have sufficient study materials in front of you.
Remember to get enough sleep and take care of yourself. You need time too. I'm even thinking of taking a gap year between my second and third year so I can unwind, do stuff I want to do and earn some money instead of living off loans. Some students can absorb themselves into their degree and ignore their loves and passions in life but I'm not that kind of student. I need creative time and it's hard to fit it into the day. So if you ever do get some time off, do something you truly love doing.
I would be lying if I said that social life wasn't a big and important part of life at university. It's a really big part but being a stressed out law student means I don't get enough time for it. If you can, try and make sure you leave some time out for just hanging out. It'll help with the stress levels. You could think about combining your social life with leisure activities too. That way the exercise will be good for you and the socialising will help ease stress.
Meet as many people as is reasonable. Don't spend too much time socialising but make sure you do get time for it occasionally at least.
Be careful who you make friends with too. Some people will just distract you but most people are pretty cool. Always be friendly to people. People don't like someone who is standoffish. And I know what that's like because I used to be like that a lot but now I smile when I see someone I know and stop and chat for a minute if I have the time. If you have an hour between tutorials or something and someone is free, think about grabbing some coffee or tea and just talking in a Starbucks or something. It doesn't require too much commitment, doesn't take too much time up and lets you just be a normal person.
Think about getting a part time job early or some work experience early. I was ill over the holidays so I didn't get a chance. But I really regret now having not had a permanent part time job with very little work experience. So always try and start early.
Also, make sure you find out what you want to do in life. I'm half way through my degree and I still have no clue. All I know is that I definitely don't want to be a lawyer.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. Law school is daunting but trust me, it's not that bad. There are some fun times!