Dear First Years

Dear First Years,

Well, you’ve made it. You’re here. You went through the painstaking task of filling in your UCAS form, ensuring the whole way through to make yourself look fabulous and like a real life Ghandi or Mother T. You mentioned how you got 99.9% in your higher English exam, produced a tally of how many grannies you’ve helped across the road and highlighted how that week you spent in your aunt’s best pal’s office has helped you to grow as a person. And for what?

To get you into Strathclyde University, of course. You’re now on a journey alongside around 20,000 other students; spending your days running from one end of the campus to another (FYI hugely difficult now with all these roadworks) and your nights in the Union drinking £2 cocktails.

(Hopefully) it’s all been going well so far and you know your ‘Livvy Tower’ from Lord Hope. Fingers crossed you’re now a whizz at SuPrimo and you are remembering to show your student card in Greggs for a free sausage roll.

So, for most of us, university for the first few weeks is all fun and games – attending lectures and doing weekly tutorial tasks may make you think you’ve got it together. But, if you’re like me, suddenly, it’s week five and you have one million things due and you don’t even know where to begin. And, to top it all off, lecturers are starting to mention the dreaded ‘e’ word.


We’ve all been there and done that before, whether it be in high school or college, slaving away over our desks for hours surrounded by cans of Red Bull trying to take in everything we’ve ever learned. Sadly, when you approach the exam period in uni, it seems like nothing has really changed and you’re still doing your very best to learn your course outside in. If anything, you might be more stressed than before – the pressures of being in university may seem worse than school. But, I’m here to tell you that you will be okay.

When it was approaching my first set of exams I was panicked – I didn’t know the format, had nothing to compare it to and didn’t even know where they were held. I had lost my comfort blanket of the school assembly hall, sitting in alphabetical order next to my friend whose surname also began with S. We’d sat with each other for 3 years of exams and by the end of sixth year were practically seasoned professionals.

However, when I made the step to apply to Strathclyde, I had to accept that I was essentially returning to the bottom of the pecking order and had to find my feet all over again.

Remember that everyone has been there before, and they’ve all somehow managed it and didn’t spontaneously combust in the exam hall (although I think that rumour of getting an A if someone were to kick the bucket in the hall still stands). I’m now approaching my second year exams and while I’m of course as worried as before, upon reflection I’m much calmer and better prepared than last year.

If you are feeling stressed, take a step back and look at the simple things you can do to make yourself feel better. For a start, you could always go check out where your exam will be held on campus; that way it’s one less thing to worry about on the day. Also, remember that everyone on your course will probably be as anxious as you, so talk to your classmates. Share tips of studying, ask them for help if you’re maybe stuck on one particular topic. Don’t suffer in silence.

Also, lecturers are pretty cool people too – they’re not out to get you so they will be able to answer your questions if you give them enough time. And, believe it or not, they actually want you to pass.

Remember there’s also student support services at Strathclyde, so if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and are looking for someone to chat to, get in touch with your advisor or one of the other departments that can help – all the information is online and can also be found in the Union.

When it’s time for you to enter that exam hall, remind yourself of one thing. You chose to study your subject and you are clearly fabulous at it. Strathclyde believed enough in you to accept you onto the course, so you’ve just got to start believing that you deserve to be here.

By Amy Shearer