By the time I started my English degree at King’s, because I had taken some time out after finishing my A-Levels, it was almost two years since I had written an essay or taken an exam. It’s safe to say I was nervous. Two years felt like a long time out of formal education and I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to adjust again.
My first few weeks at King’s, though, put my mind at ease. I met with my personal tutor, who is a member of staff that each student is allocated that is there to help academically and pastorally. My department also gave us a timetable of different sessions that were available throughout the year, that ranged from helping with exam skills, how to take effective notes in lectures, and tips on how to manage stress. There is a lot of help and support at King’s when you know where to look, so I think it’s a good idea when you first start to take some time and familiarise yourself with the different support networks on offer, in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you need extra help.
It might be quite obvious but what I’ve realised is essential at university is figuring out how and where you work best. Some people prefer complete silence when studying, others work better in groups; some people wake up early, others work all night and sleep all day; some can work from bed and others need to be in a library. What is great about King’s, and London in general, is that there are so many great and different places to study to suit these differences. King’s has plenty of different study areas from Waterloo Library, the fairly-unknown study spaces in the Virginia Woolf building and the beautiful, yet maze-like, Maughan Library.
Being a King’s student also means you have access to the University of London Senate House library in Bloomsbury, which is a beautiful area of London with lots of green spaces that I really recommend for just walking around. For me, I’ve found that it differs and can just depend on the day. I do really like working in cafés so it’s lucky for me that London has plenty of them! There is something about having lots of activity going on around me that helps me focus more. Sometimes, when in the library, I even listen to YouTube videos of ‘café noises’ to help me concentrate.
Whilst your first year at King’s does count towards your degree, unlike some universities, I think it is important to remember that first-year is primarily a learning experience about improving your study skills and adjusting to university life. Exam periods and essay deadlines can be nerve-racking but if you take the time to figure out what works best for you and take advantage of the help on offer, then you’ll reach your stride in no time.