- There’s more to university than attending lectures.
Although I don’t deny the importance of attending lectures as much as possible, university can offer you so much more than that. University is also a time to learn about yourself, to meet new people and have new experiences, and enjoy student life in general. Due to COVID-19, I spent much of my first year online attending Zoom lectures, which wasn’t a very fulfilling experience. However, it made me appreciate how rich my university experience is now and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
- “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”
Much like in Harry Potter, there are loads of people willing to help you when you need it. From the group chat, the class representative and Betapsi, to your lecturers and administration, help will be given if you ask for it. That said, it’s also important to be mindful of the needs of university staff. Your lecturer may not have the time to answer your questions the eve of the exam. It is also important not to badger lecturers and seek the help of the group chat, friends, and your class representatives when applicable. Some lecturers also offer office hours. Above all, it’s usually worth tackling the problem at the root that letting it fester and grow.
University also offers a number of services to university students. The Counselling Unit (https://www.um.edu.mt/services/health-wellness/counselling/) offers 15 free sessions per year to students who are struggling. When it comes to access arrangements, you should contact the ACCESS-Disability Support unit (https://www.um.edu.mt/services/administrativesupport/access/). Finally, students who are struggling to afford necessities can reach out to KSU and the Chaplaincy.
- Always address your lecturer as Dr or Professor.
As a first year, it’s very easy to make the mistake of saying Mr or Ms as it’s what you’ve been doing your whole life at school. However, it tends to be quite frowned upon by lecturers as they feel that it is disrespectful. After all, they have spent years studying, teaching and publishing academic work and using the proper terms acknowledges this. That said, some lecturers will give you the dispensation to address them more casually and some have not necessarily obtained a doctorate.
- You don’t have to read every single page of every single book.
Lecturers can assign a lot of work at times, but realistically, you will not always be able to get it all done. This means that you will need to compromise sometimes- to do the most important tasks or to study the most important topics for an exam. Perhaps you’re working on an assignment that isn’t up to par with your usual quality, but you need to submit another assignment in 3 days and you haven’t started it… that’s the time to submit the first assignment and start working on the second one. You can’t be perfect all the time, and that’s okay!
- It’s never too early to start thinking about your dissertation.
As you go through first year, it’s a good idea to start thinking of what you’d like to write about for your dissertation. Which topics in psychology are you passionate about? What do you know more about? Writing a list of interests or potential things you’d like to for your thesis can also be helpful once you have to choose your dissertation title come the end of first year. On a similar note, once May and June roll around, it’s a good idea to start thinking about who you’d like to supervise your dissertation and eventually contacting them, since supervisors have a limited number of students they can accept.
- Do something different!
The stark reality of our course is that there are a lot of students who start looking for jobs come graduation time and it’s not always easy to find a job immediately. One way of boosting your chances is to engage in extracurricular activities and add to your CV. This can mean volunteering once a week with Richmond or doing a placement with Aġenzija Sapport. For me, it was joining Betapsi! I feel that being in the organisation has helped improving on skills like teamwork and leadership. I’ve accomplished things that the shyer me from two years ago wouldn’t have thought possible. If you’re interested in helping our team, you can find our office applications here: https://forms.gle/jRzLxtp8emXAyhZu9
- Prioritise your wellbeing too!
With the hustle and bustle of university life, it can be easy to forget to take care of your physical and mental health. It can help to schedule these activities in your calendar, like you would with a lecture or study time, or else to set reminders or keep yourself accountable with a friend.The first year of your psychology degree is sure to be an exciting and transformative journey, but it may also be daunting. It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed or fearful of the unknown, as you haven’t experienced lectures, exams or much at all at university. But rest assured that you will find your feet with time. The Betapsi team is there to support you throughout your years at university. Do reach out to us if you need help with anything; we’re just a DM away