Surviving your first year

The Gateway asks some of those who've made it through their first year in one piece for their advice

The third year student

Name: Dominick Knight

University: Bristol

Subject: Economics and Management

Memories of first year: My first year was great. My memories include meeting loads of new people, friends I'll have for the rest of my life, and going out a lot, sometimes clubbing for up to four or five nights a week. I also learnt how to cook a little.

If you could do it all again: I didn't spend long enough studying and I had to do some re-takes which was annoying. If you're looking for internships in your penultimate year, poor first year exam results can be detrimental to your chances.

What advice do you have for freshers? Experience as much as you can, and get out and meet new people. Enjoy the freedom and join societies, but take exams and coursework seriously. Even if coursework doesn't count towards your final degree grade, not doing well can hold you back.

The banker

Name: Banker with a large investment bank

University: Nottingham

Subject: Economics

Memories of first year: Just getting to grips with living outside of London and student life in general - meeting new people, getting my head around lectures and tutorials, buying textbooks. All great fun though and the support from the university was brilliant.

If you could do it all again: I'd probably try to enjoy it all a bit more, as I got a bit preoccupied with my studies in my first year. A lot of universities, especially out of London, make a massive effort to integrate first years and get them into the mix, which you should take advantage of.

What advice do you have for freshers? Make the most of the opportunities you have. You'll probably never be in this position again, so enjoy yourself!

The established entrepreneur

Name: Jon Simon, founder of Pieminister

University: Nottingham Trent

Subject: Furniture and Product Design

Memories of first year: It's a bit foggy, since it was way back in the early 90s, but it was a lot of fun! I met lots of people from different parts of the country which was strange for a boy from South London. I met my wife in the first year, who is my current business partner's sister.

If you could do it all again: I'd work a bit harder. It was all a bit of a party - the tutors didn't seem to give much of a toss, and that was what I wanted in my early 20s. It was a four-year course, so dissertations seemed a long way off in my first year.

What advice do you have for freshers? Learn to cook. Then you'll always make friends, have people round at your house, and get favours done for you, so polish up a few signature dishes. It worked for me!

The young entrepreneur

Name: David Langer, founder of GroupSpaces

University: Oxford

Subject: Mathematics

Memories of first year: Signing up for too many societies, partying too much and sleeping too little! But I managed to develop a hypothesis of what I wanted to do career-wise, and a year later started working on the idea that became GroupSpaces.

If you could do it all again: I'd value sleep more highly! I'm an advocate of "work hard, play hard", but you'll end up doing less overall if you do too much initially and then have to take a week or two out to recover.

What advice do you have for freshers? Join societies related to the careers you're interested in. Going to their events and speaking to other members are easy ways to figure out whether that path is right for you.

The lawyer

Name: James Collins

University: Bristol

Subject: Law

Memories of first year: I remember being surprised by how many people on my course had wanted to be lawyers from the day they came out of the womb!

If you could do it all again: I'd probably get more involved with the extracurricular things the law school offered. In hindsight, the debating, mooting and law clinics are things that help create a skill base which is useful in a legal career.

What advice do you have for freshers? Enjoy it! University is the best three years of your life but make sure you come out looking forward. It's better to be nostalgic from a secure career than becoming the Steve Stifler of your uni!

The graduate

Name: Adam White

University: Oxford

Subject: Economics and Management

Memories of first year: One of my strongest memories from my first year is attending the induction lecture for my course. It gave me an impression of exceptional professionalism, which filled me with excitement and confidence for the course ahead.

If you could do it all again: I would stay on top of my work better - as working independently was completely new to me, it took some time to find out how to learn efficiently.

What advice do you have for freshers? Figuring the above out at an early stage is crucial for maximising your academic performance and creating as much time as possible for socialising, and all the clubs and societies on offer.