How to make the most of your first year at university

16 September 2020

Our undergraduate ambassador, Deborah, shares her advice on how to the make the most of your experience at Warwick Business School whether you are studying on campus or remotely.

Come with a plan

My most important advice would be to start your university experience with a game plan. Coming to university can be overwhelming at first and if you don’t exactly know what you want to achieve from your experience you may feel a little lost with so many opportunities available to you. I would recommend that you plan each year of your studies in advance and think about the following options:

  1. Decide on the societies you are interested in before starting university. You can find all the Student Union societies on the Warwick SU website and you can also follow the different society groups on Facebook. This will help you to discover what sort of activities they do and this is also where they will advertise society positions, so there is a chance you can apply and secure a position before starting university.
  2. If you want to play a sport competitively, again you can look for the team’s society group on Facebook and sign up to their newsletter. Most sport clubs organise training sessions before term starts and joining those sessions can be a great advantage for you when attending the team trials. Make sure you make a note of when the team trials are as they usually only happen twice a year.

Utilise the student support services

I would recommend that you research the various different support services the University of Warwick has to offer and don’t be afraid to use them. They also all operate online as well so you can access their services on campus or remotely.

WBS CareersPlus

WBS CareersPlus is undoubtedly one of the best and most useful resources exclusively available to WBS students. You can attend a drop-in session or schedule an appointment with one of the careers advisors for one-to-one help with any career related questions you may have. The team help you with your CV, organise mock interviews and assessment centres several times a year which help you to develop and practice the skills you will need for your future employment.

Essay consultations

This service is something I discovered in my second year. Essay consultations help you to develop your essay writing skills and ensure that you essays are up to university standards. The feedback that you receive helps you to structure your essays whilst giving constructive feedback on how to improve your grade. This service has enabled me to increase my average score by a whole grade so I absolutely recommend that students make the most of this service.

Personal tutor

My advice is make the most of your personal tutor and ensure you build a great working relationship so you feel comfortable turning to them for support. Starting university can be a scary experience especially if you are an international student and your personal tutor will be a great support in guiding any obstacles you may face. Your personal tutor will also be pivotal in providing references for your future job applications so make sure you have a positive relationship with them.

SU Advice Centre

Another student support service you should familiarise yourself with is the SU Advice Centre. This service is ran by skilled professional whose job it is to help you with various university-related problems you may face. You can turn to them for advice if you are looking for support with your housing contracts or if you have any finance or funding related queries or if you need some general advice about personal matters. The SU Advice Centre are also available online and you can contact them via email

Be tactical about how you study

When starting the university the biggest hurdle I faced was learning to manage my workload. After one term at university I came to realise that I wasn’t able to learn and understand everything I had been taught straight way, and that I needed to give myself time to conduct my own self-study to clarify my understanding. I would recommend that you look at how each module is assessed and prepare accordingly.  For instance, if you have a module that will be assessed through an exam at the end of the year, make sure you attend all the lectures and seminars and make substantial notes which will help you when you come to revise. With essay-based assessments, you may be assessed at the end of the term, so try to choose your essay topic early on and clarify anything you are unsure of with your lecturer or seminar tutor before you start writing your essay.

Make the most of the extra-curricular activities available

Make conscious decisions about your extracurricular activities. It is always fun to join a society or take part in different activities across campus. However, the best thing you can do is start thinking about what you want to do after university and start building a portfolio of experience around that which you will gain from relevant societies or events you decide to attend online or in person. If you are not sure about your future career path, try and select societies that could possible help you find out where your interests lie such as the Consulting Society, Management Society, Digital Marketing Society or the Finance Society. You may also want to consider applying for executive positions within the society or societies you are part of as this experience will appeal to future employers and help to demonstrate your skill set.

Additionally, even if you are studying remotely you will still have the opportunity to be an active part of a society. Due to the strict regulations of the university, most society meetings will be held online so you will still have the opportunity be just as active of a member as you would be on campus. You will still be able to do research projects and any work for societies from home. For example, I am going to be abroad for the duration of the next year but I am still going to be a marketing executive for one of the societies I am a member of. Therefore, you really do not need to be on campus to make the most of extra-curricular activities.