The sentiment that university is supposed to be the best time of your life is a fairly common one. It is also naturally an expensive one. If we are to (very) generously assume an average of ten contact hours over 24 weeks, a singular timetabled hour still costs around £40. That also assumes you attend every one.
Students have understandably gained a reputation for bargain-hunting where possible. Most students have probably used a UNiDAYs discount code or drank a subsidised £2.35 pint from Squirrels. There are, however, also ways to utilise resources exclusively available to university students to your benefit that might have either passed you by or which you might not have given due attention. Here are five resources that scratch the surface of how to best use your time and tuition fees.
Library fiction books
Using the library as an actual library sometimes seems so obvious that it almost seems wrong. It is easy to waste money and time tracking down your favourite book in a store, charity shop or elsewhere when the university likely already has a copy. It is easy to dismiss the library as exclusively reference material, and whilst the fiction selections are not exhaustive, you would be hard-pressed not to find something worth reading when there are four million books to choose from. This includes a range of contemporary writers such as Jenny Offill, Bernadine Evaristo, and Zadie Smith. This number only increases if you register for a Manchester Libraries card that includes further collections including the Central and Withington libraries.
It goes without saying that mental health is something worth having a continuous open dialogue about, regardless of your current mental state. The University’s service provides 80-100 ‘First Step’ appointments a week and can be used to help both yourself and others you believe might need the support system. With 23% of NHS mental health support wait times being almost three months and alternative private treatment costing, on average, more than £50 for 50 minutes, access to free and accessible mental health services is a privilege more should see the advantage in using.
Free lectures are frequent and diverse at the University of Manchester. Organised by a range of departments, societies and the Student Union, these talks often provide what would otherwise be a paid opportunity to learn from individuals. Highlights of this academic year thus far include a visit from Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana organised by the SU, historian and BBC presenter David Olusoga discussing his new series Union, and the annual Arthur Lewis Lecture featuring author and scholar NgũgĨ Wa Thiong’o. If the incentive to learn and potentially self-improve is not enough, these lectures also frequently include free food and drinks – both of which are hard to pass on as students.
I’m sure a fair few readers have been attending office hours religiously since they stepped foot on campus. But as contact hours decline and grades grow in importance, any extra minutes of education are vital to take advantage of. Being able to squeeze valuable personal opportunities for development in both subject and skills is what university is (mostly) about when it comes to formal education, and office hours are the distillation of this ethos. This includes the especially under-utilised chance to discuss non-summative content!
It is easy to feel somewhat bombarded by emails on career opportunities that might feel distant from your interests. Whilst scuba, military or accounting opportunities might not be your forte, making use of the service itself should be. Once again the opportunity for one-on-one discussion is overlooked by many, but with individual meetings, CV feedback and insights into many potential jobs of interest the careers service can be a highly personalised system.
Maximising the tailoring of your CareerConnect, TargetJobs, and other information networks easily allows you to minimise the universal university anxiety over the eventual graduate job hunt. It is a helpful first step to take that can take some of the pressure off and one that is beneficial to start as early as possible, and not just in your final year.