Making the most of first year

If you’re joining Warwick this October, you’re probably feeling all sorts of emotions. In this blog, Emily gives her top tips to come to Warwick confident and ready for the big adventure to come!

By Emily Alger

University is a big change from school. That’s something I hadn’t really thought about when I was applying but I realised quickly that it was. Not only was I expected to study but also to cook and live independently from my family. It’s a lot to take in and can be a big learning curve. I’ve recently graduated from Warwick, but I can remember first year so clearly. Here are my top tips I’d recommend if you’ve just joined Warwick.

Join a society!

This is the most important piece of advice I’d give to any fresher at Warwick. Whether it be academic, artsy or sporty, joining a society is the best way to meet like-minded people on your course. At university, I think the secret to a great experience is immersing yourself within communities: your course mates, flatmates and society mates. I found that my societies became my main social outlook. I became really involved with the wind orchestra. Every Monday I would rehearse with them for two hours and then throughout the week I’d socialise with them within and outside Warwick campus. Wind Orchestra generated the feeling of belonging for me, and my Orchestra friends soon became some of my best friends.

A dark room with a brightly-lit stage. There are people on the stage in purple t-shirts playing a variety of musical instruments
Emily spent time in Big Band and the Wind Orchestra as part of her Warwick journey. Image: Emily Alger.

You can also join the Exec of a society, a smaller group of members who organise the running of their society. At the end of first year, I became Wind Orchestra’s social secretary. The role skyrocketed my confidence and gave me something I could talk about passionately within job applications and interviews. It can be nerve-wracking to meet new people and get involved in a society you have only just met, but it is worth it! I’d recommend being part of only a few societies you really love. Put your time into meeting the members and integrate within the group. If you find the right society, your time with them will define your university experience.

Not only was I expected to study but also to cook and live independently from my family

Find your feet, don’t push yourself too far

University is all about discovering new things and I think that’s one of the best parts of the university experience. That being said, you have at least three years to explore societies and the everything Warwick has to offer so don’t push yourself too far in first year. Looking back, I think first year is all about finding your feet. In first year, you should prioritise: learning to live independently, getting used to university study, and enjoying your time with societies and friends. There’s always more you can do, such as applying to internships and beginning to think about your career. These are great things to do but can be a little overwhelming when moving to university is change enough. Take steps at your own pace and prioritise your well-being. There’s enough time at university to do everything you want at your own pace!

A girl with brown hair wearing a brown top is working on her laptop with a pen in hang. There are notebooks and papers in the background.
First year is about more than just learning, it’s about finding your feet. Image: Emily Alger.

Define your university experience how YOU want

University is all about discovering new things and I think that’s one of the best parts of the university experience

For me, I had been looking forward to university for as long as I could remember but that meant that university had big boots to fill. Sitting in my uni room, it was all too easy to look at social media and decide that my course mates were having a “better” university experience than me: going out regularly, meeting loads of new people and proclaiming people they had just met as best friends. However, social media can be deceiving. Whatever anyone says, university is a steep learning curve, and nobody’s experience will ever be as exciting as what they put on social media. To some extent everyone will feel a little home-sick, nervous and out of their depth at the start of university. You shouldn’t compare yourself to other people you see. University is all about growth so don’t put pressure on yourself to recreate the university experience you dreamt about.

A painting of the Warwick Arts Centre, the Koan and a tree is being held up in front of its real life location, which is blurry in the background.
University can happen in so many ways, choose your own path. Image: Emily Alger.

My advice is to go at your own pace and do the events and socials you want during Freshers week and beyond. If you don’t enjoy something, then don’t push yourself to “fit in”. It’s much more beneficial to find socials and people you’re deeply passionate about. You’ll find that you feel so much more confident and fulfilled if you let go of your expectations and jump into what you enjoy.

Good luck with your studies! University is a true adventure.

If you’re still finding your feet in first year, take a look at our recent post welcoming you to Warwick Library. You can also read what first year’s all about here.

How are you feeling about your first year so far? Tweet us at @warwicklibrary, send us a message on Instagram @warwicklibrary, email us at, or leave a comment below.

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