Hi! I’m Elliot, a student in my second year of the BA English Literature with Creative Writing. A bit about me – I worked before uni and previously switched subjects, so I’m a bit older than most of my peers. I’m big on bouldering, love cooking for a crowd, and I’m pretty focused on career goals for after I graduate (I’m developing content copywriting and digital marketing skills as a skills-based entryway to the marketing world, and want to run my own digital marketing agency eventually).
So a lot of my focus at uni is on developing my CV and getting the best possible grades, with the least amount of stress, all without sacrificing the university experience.
With that in mind – this is an outline of a relatively typical Tuesday at uni for me.
0800 - 0900: commute and breakfast
Mornings generally depend on several things – your lecture schedule, and where you live. I stayed in halls during my first year, meaning that I was close to campus.
In second year however, I’ve elected to live off-campus, with a group of friends in a privately rented house (book sessions with RUSU Housing Advice if you’re thinking about this to plan for the process in order to guide you from the pitfalls).
So mornings start with a short commute. The walk through campus is always great. I didn’t select Reading University purely on the basis of its location - but being in such a calm, beautiful natural environment certainly helps your day-to-day.
Thankfully – not too many early mornings in my schedule this term! But anytime I do, discounted breakfast and hot drinks on campus always help to start the day right.
Or, maybe I make breakfast at home, sticking around to do laundry and life admin – this is one of the benefits of renting off campus. You’ve more freedom to control your space, with friends you’ve chosen to live with, in a location you get to choose – but there’s also time-costs in dealing with shared bills, shared rent, cleaning, and a bit more general life admin. In comparison – these are all included in your housing contract when you live in University housing. You also have the benefit of 24/7 security and maintenance services available by phone (save these numbers) - plus, it’s generally much easier meeting friends form outside your classes, and organising outings or nights out.
0900 – 1100: lectures and seminars
Next up, lectures - these are generally larger group classes, lasting 50 minutes (you’re allowed 10 minutes to pack and walk to your next lectures). Lectures are normally paired to seminars, which happen at different times during the day (or week) – these are smaller group classes in which you’ll be able to discuss the material in more depth, ask questions, and generally trouble-shoot anything you’re still figuring out from the lecture.
I’d highly recommend not being shy about taking advantage of these sessions – lecturers at the University of Reading are experienced, and have sometimes literally written the books you’ll be working from! Individual departments are also continuously collecting data and feedback to fine-tune the way they teach.
1100-1300: libraries and study-space (and more lectures)
You’ll have time between your classes during the day – after a break to decompress, I’ll typically to head to the library. Recently revamped study space means that if I want to really buckle down, there are plenty of quiet areas available to sit and focus. Or, there are private group study pods and open study areas if I want to head over with my friends to get a start on projects and essays (plus – they have a pretty great, open, airy café).
I have to give credit to the Study Advice Team for helping me really put good, simple study habits into practice– university study is VERY different from college, and their one-to-one sessions were great for helping me adapt painlessly. The biggest takeaway for me was that there’s always going to be work, but you can make that work a LOT easier (and pretty much stress-free) by working with Study Advisors as soon as your assignments come in. I typically have more time for nights out, less last-minute stress, and still end up with better grades than when I was going at it alone.
Also – don't do what I did and under-utilise the library to plan your assignments! Spend time speaking to your Subject Liaison Librarian – the library offers more than just books, and Liaison Librarians will be able to show you all of it! Overwhelmed by a reading list? The librarians will be able to help you identify critical texts, and help you narrow down the extras based on your interest, into a more manageable and focused list for your coursework. They’re a great first port of call when you start an assignment – work with them, and you’ll typically end up with better grades for less effort.
1300 – 1700: Jobs, work, and career
Right, so morning’s over (I have a pretty short lecture schedule Tuesdays). Now, I have work – in the past, I’ve been concerned with maintaining money. After speaking with the University's Student Financial Advice Service and RUSU’s Money Advice team, I explored the University’s Campus Jobs Website, which displays opportunities for on-campus work that fits around your studies. Since starting uni, I’ve worked as a shop assistant, a cocktail bartender, and a caterer. Building off my experience for The Spark Student Newspaper, I now write for some of the University’s blogs, and even do some basic marketing assistance, which looks great on my CV. Spending just a few hours a week working during the day really helps alleviate your finances.
Speaking of CVs! A big, underlying (and constant) question at university is what we’ll do afterwards – what careers are available, what your interests are, how you’ll get there, and what your odds are. The Careers team are good to visit, no matter your experience or preparedness – never worked, and no idea what you’re even interested in? Careers can suggest paths to research, experience you can try, and support to help you get there. Set on a particular career, and raring to get an edge on the competition before you graduate? The Mentoring Scheme will pair you with Alumni who are now industry professionals, to help you realise your goals, gain experience/internships, and tell you about the pitfalls to avoid and best ways to get what you’re after, while you’re at university, with all its resources at your fingertips. And that’s just the start!
1700- 1900: London Road Campus and The MERL
Work’s done for the afternoon – and I’m nearly done for the day! Time for a walk to London Road campus to grab a hot drink. The campus is also home to the Twitter-famous Museum of English Rural Life (seriously, look them up if you haven't already). They’ve also got some really nice, quiet study spaces, so I’ll probably pay them a visit and do a bit of reading.
1900– 2100: SportsPark and Societies
In year one, I spent more time in the SportsPark gym, which provides discounted student membership. This year, I’ve been interested in RUSU’s Kickboxing Society – for about £50 per year, the club provides access to evening training (1900-2100) 3x/week, equipment included. I live a 5 minute walk away from where they hold their training, so for me – perfect investment!
Quick note on RUSU societies and clubs – there are over fifty sports clubs and one-hundred societies, four student media outlets (newspaper, radio station, news show and digital publication) and many volunteering opportunities, so nearly every niche interest is represented. And if you have a particular interest you don’t see? Start a society yourself!
2100-2200: 2-4-1 cocktails, nights out, and laundry
Kickboxing Society is a particularly social one, and after class – most of us head to The Dairy, one of the University Bars. Park Bar is the perfect starting point for a night out with their student deals and central location, while I prefer Ice House for a quieter night with friends, especially if we’re in the mood for craft cocktails (and their 2-4-1 deals). Tonight’s not a night-out kind of night – that’s probably going to be saved for the Student Union’s on-campus, twice-weekly Union Night.
And afterwards - that’s it! That’s been a fairly busy day, so I’m just going to put some laundry in while I have some food (RUSU’s Diversity Digest Food Blog has some good student-submitted recipes), and get ready to start it all again tomorrow.