Advice || How to get a first at university

As-Salaamu Alaikum
Peace Be Upon You
If you clicked on this post it’s because you’re interested to know how to get a first class honours at university.. and honestly I ‘ m p r o u d o f y o u.

This is the first step you could have done to start your academic journey in ensuring you grab that first class degree tight with both hands. You’ve already started the process by researching “how to” and clicking on this post. You are already showing signs of interest.

If you told me in first year of Fd Accounts that I’d graduate university with a first class honours, I’d laugh at you and possibly cry from a nervous breakdown because I was doing terribly… What I realised during this course is that I loved marketing, so come second year I changed by pathway to Fd marketing and was able to graduate with a distinction.

I could have stopped my academic journey at a foundation level but my thirst for success and that small taste in what a potential first could be like for me had me excited so I continued a top up degree in BA Admin (with a focus on marketing modules). The reason for this is because I sculpted my modules to fit my abilities to the max. I’m better at coursework than exams so I strategically picked courses which were weighted/ evaluated heavily in coursework’s than exams. Alhamdulilah this worked to my favour!

Now my tips are for the ever so generic courses… not so much for medical, engineering or technical courses where a specific skill set is required. Nonetheless I’m sure some of it can be helpful.

1. Pick courses you can win

// What I mean is read the module guides… evaluate how you are being examined or marked… is it coursework or exams? Which do you prefer? Or what do you excel in? From this make your selection. Uni is almost like a game and your aim is to get maximum results from a level (module) you know you’ll excel in.

2. Attend all your classes (said with a pinch of salt)

// I personally tried my best to attend all lectures, seminars and tutorials however I didn’t always make it (woke up too late or simply ill – hello pregnancy symptoms). However I ALWAYS make a point of catching up and emailing my lecturers – it’s only courteous and they’ll appreciate it also. You can get away with NOT attending classes you’re easily comfortable in, where the work is independent and research based and you can work from home. However for the courses you don’t know what you’re doing I recommend you go 100% because you can ask questions and hear the information twice (from lectures and seminars/ tutorials). This repetition of information from the lecturer really made me stay focused and allowed me to pass certain modules with flying colours

3. Academic Professionals

// They are there to help you. Don’t forget you’re paying the uni for a service and all academic professionals are there for you. As long as you attend, engage or email lecturers and tutors tend to be soooo much more receptive, nicer and willing to help when they can see that YOU are actively trying to gain a degree. They are there at your disposal. Email them for feedback or one-to-one meetings. Your lecturer is your first point of call for help, so don’t feel shy or like you’re bothering them too much because you’re not. Ask them for feedback, guidance and assistance and learn from the feedback given – heck take notes in the meeting if you have too. But don’t be cheeky and expect them to give you the time of day if you’re last minute and heading towards them near the deadline, don’t forget they have other classes to teach, not just you.

4. Prioritise

// Now what I mean specifically is work. I know a lot of us students work to get on by. I’ve worked 40+ hours and studied full time and maintained a house and social life and it can get exhausting. However if there’s ever a time to cut back on those working hours it’s in your final year! Please please please cut back those hours and dedicate your time to completing those essays ensuring your references and layout are up to par or even writing up some notes for your exams – especially in your final year!! If you get the layout and references on point, you’re already bagging yourself tonnes of marks.

5. This leads me to say stay O r g a n i s e d

// …with your notes! Every week schedule an hour to go through the current weeks courses and download the notes or slides onto a USB and skim read them. You don’t need to read them to understand or comprehend the information but look at them to be familiar. That way when you hear the lecturer talking about something unfamiliar you can start typing up your notes below their lecture slides. Alternatively if you’ve not been attending lectures you can catch up on the notes to assist with seminars/ tutorials.

6. Stay calculated

// A really good website I used throughout uni to stay calculated was [unigradecalc.com]. What do I mean? Well when I would feel stressed or wanted to give up, I would insert my grades and see how I was getting along and calculated what the minimum mark I would need to then pass that module. When you see that not a lot is needed to get a first, the psychology in my brain changed and my body was pumped with energy to continue. It definitely uplifted me and kept me motivated to attain that first throughout uni.

I would also enter my predicated grades and see what I would need to get a first – this allowed me to juggle some modules around and re-prioritise the modules worth putting energy into. I would sit and calculate which ones I should focus on and allowed myself some lee-way to ditch a module or two. This reduced the pressure and stress a little but it also heightened the good stress in me to focus and prepare for the other modules.

7. Remind yourself

// when multiple deadlines are looming all at once.. it’s easy to want to give up. But for the love of everyone involved DONT. Not only will it be a waste of time and energy it’ll also be a waste of money. You’re hard earned cash is going to be wasted on something that’s incomplete. Please make reminders to yourself as to why you’re going to university and most importantly who is it for! Uni is meant to be for you.

8. Find a secure network

// Find people you best work with, find your support system, the people that will sit at uni with you at 2am in the morning that motivate and push you through to finish the work. Found them? Now stick with them, these are you day one homies and soon-to-be life long friends. The craziness that happens around these people is what will get you through uni. Don’t be fooled though, if you need to be a bitch and commanding to get work done, then do it! Because it’s about prioritising work and focusing on your common goal to finish uni with the highest grade possible.

9. Don’t be afraid to switch pathways/ courses

// Don’t be afraid to change. Your friends will still be there. Just remind yourself why you’re going to uni and for who (you!). If you neeed to reconsider your pathway just do it. If you’re scared of being alone or starting again, who cares! Remember these changes are going to be beneficial to you and your overall life plan. If you’ve survived two stressful years, or even one already, give yourself a pat on the back. Now even if you don’t like the course or cannot change your pathway by now please stick with what you’re doing and finish it off – DO NOT GIVE UP, please!

Thankfully my uni was accommodating and let me switch pathways accordingly but where you can’t and you’re stuck with modules you’re not to keen on, just ride it out! A completed degree with a First next to it looks so much better than having incomplete or nothing next to your eduction. Honestly, those last few months will fly by. Focus on accomplishing each assignment bit-by-bit, I promise you LISTS help! My attention span is ridiculous and baby brain kept me loosing my train of thought continuously – so a list definitely helped me get back on track – plus it’s super satisfying to tick and highlight off.

10. Frame of mind

// Final year is the last hurdle, get in the right frame of mind and know what you want to achieve. In this scenario I firmly believe in the law of attraction – what you seek to get you WILL accomplish. Without a fail, every other day me and my friends would re-calculate our grades (step 6) just to get ourselves ready to do the work. You are your own driver of life, so sit down and get cracking.

When you’ve finally finished through with uni, your sense of achievement will be over the roof as you would have accomplished something – all on your own too! It’s a big step homie, be proud and then go treat yo’self x

Me and Isa Mikaeel at my Graduation ceremony. He was only one month here, looking like a squishy old man! xx

Ultimately, what I’m trying to say about university is know what you’re looking for and ultimately know what YOU want to gain from it, this will create a drive to continue and accomplish. You cannot afford to be shy or meek with your studies at university, otherwise it’s a waste of time for ALL involved. As you are the one paying for your own studies, take it in a direction you will be happy to own and control. If things aren’t working out, then be active – FIX IT, CHANGE IT. Don’t sit on your arse expecting sh!t to happen. At the end of the day the effort you put in will be rewarded back to you via amazing results. If that isn’t the ultimate goal of university then I don’t know what else to say to you my dear.

Yes uni should be fun and it can be, but if it’s not – just remind yourself once again why you went to uni and that was to get a degree – people will come and go. If you’re going to uni for the socialisation aspect then mate you need to sit back down and reevaluate your outlook in life – I’m only saying this because I do know several people who choose to go to uni for the social aspects without a care for their education. I understand they’re ultimately paying for it, but come ooooon what are you doing?! Uni is one expensive journey and the workload is no joke either.

I honestly hope this post helps motivate you to get through your time at uni. Or perhaps I can help be of some inspiration as a fellow individual who’s gone through a rollercoaster of emotions,  pregnancy, sustained a job, apartment and studied an undergraduate course all to fulfil a First. I know I’m not the only one who’s juggled a hectic life and succeeded and I know you’ll be able to do the same! I’m sorry if I’ve come across slightly aggressive towards the end! Think of me like a big sister who’s just trying to motivate and push you! Honestly it’s not too late to change the scores. In my final year I didn’t do amazingly as I would’ve liked during the December exams. However, those results made me work sooo much harder to get the results I wanted in the Summer exams and Alhamdulilah (All praise is due to Allah/God) it all worked in my favour and now I sincerely pray it works for you too.

I intend to have another post for how to get maximum marks in reports and presentation, so please do stick around.

If you liked this post then please do follow. If you’d like to interact with me, please do follow my various social media pages (links below) or feel free to message me at yazmiinaktar@gmail.com. Until my next post xoxo

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