Before you start at University, there are some good hints in the Independent for first years!
Remember, despite government wishes, you are not in a market economy as a student! Read this from Stephen Curry, Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College, London.
Freshers - Starting at University is a big step: a self-motivated work ethic and a different style of support than at school or college. Starting at University when living away from home is more traumatic: often, it's the first time somebody's been away from their family for a prolonged period, and it's the first time any real level of self-sufficiency has kicked in. I always tell students who are moving away from home particularly that the first term is the most challenging. WEEK FIVE is the critical week - most students seem to have a mega wobble: should they be doing the course, why are they there, the uni is horrible... If you survive this then life is fine and by the end of term the idea of going home is rather annoying. The WEEK FIVE low is not surprising: you have adapted to the new life style, to the new ethos of work, to the new surroundings... and it can be a little stressful before things settle down. Term two is usually a little more comfortable as your mind/body really knows what you are in for! CAMBRIDGE has produced a Fresher's Guide... well worth a read! A summary of a Fresher's lot at Oxford is here... (Note that many Oxford colleges produce their own guides, online or on paper!) Also, design students have produced some SUPERB posters with maxims to help! A good overview worth looking at (alongside the links) was produced by the Telegraph! A similar guide is the Independent's 17 suggestions!
One crucial issue, whether you are at Oxford or Cambridge, London or St Andrews, Berkeley or Yale, the Sorbonne or Uniwersytet Warszawski is your safety. Although advice on keeping safe will usually be a part of a welcoming pack, there are so many other things going on that it's not often a focus for the freshers. Yet criminals of an area realise that there is a sudden influx of young adults who have a touch of naivety and they are targeted for a host of crimes. With this in mind Greater Manchester Police has produced a YouTube clip featuring student experiences, usually with a message about how to optimise your safety. Many of the tips will seem obvious: try to with a group at night time; secure your bike with a good lock; ensure that doors which should be locked are kept locked; be a positive ambassador for your University... It's worth a look. As it is suggested that 10% of students will be the victim of some crime, minimise the chances of that being you!
Do's and Don'ts... Yes, Churchill College, Cambridge may give you hints about passing port to the left in their introductory pack to offer holders... but there are more rules of etiquette than that! Sandi Totsvig (Arch & Anth, Girton) has written a useful book, but some pointers are here!
Tips to succeed at Oxford and Cambridge are provided by the student paper, The Tab... ostensibly written by 'the secret supervisor'. Take heed!
Sex: although your own standards are sensible and respectful, that can't be said of all students at any university. Oxford and Cambridge are leading the way in compulsory 'I <3 Consent' sessions. These are important for ALL students: I personally want you all to get the most out of your university life, and certainly don't want you to face hassle, discomfort or more because of the blinkered or naive behaviour of others. The Oxbridge approach is well approved here and by students themselves here! It isn't just an Oxbridge issue - as is shown here, and the sexual harassment and abuse against girls is explained in upsetting and graphic detail here. Some of the predatory methods seem to reek of the Bullingdon Club's disgraceful arrogance and abuse - but the provenance of this story is disputed: it's good to see that despite the 'fiction' of the report, the college doesn't turn a blind eye! It is right that the leading UK universities are proactive. In the US, it's estimated that 20% of female students are assaulted during their University life, and because of this they are encouraging students to sign the itsonus.org pledge.... It has five key ingredients, which should be applied to all Universities worldwide:
To RECOGNISE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault
To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur
To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given
To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported