On Monday 18th July 2016, I graduated with a Law degree!
“I feel happy, I feel grateful and I feel fulfilled. I’m happy because I never expected it, but God gave it to me. I’m grateful to Him…”
*Banter lol* But genuinely, I am so grateful to God for seeing me through the most challenging 3 years of my life to date and to ❤my friends, my boyfriend, my family and my fellowship❤ for all of their help, encouragement and prayers! I couldn’t have done this without my support system, they are a blessing. Ok gush over.
As university has officially come to an end, I thought it would be cool to reflect on “what have I actually learned from studying an intense Law degree at a top university?” and share with you all my university experience.
1. Find friends; smart friends. A burden shared is a burden halved.
I have heard lots of horror stories about people falling into the “wrong crowd” at university and then spiralling downhill. The friends you keep during this time are so important because they could be the difference between you achieving your potential and not.
I met most of my friends through tutorials, lectures and extra-curricular activities like societies. I emphasise finding smart friends because to describe a Law degree as “hard work” is a huge understatement. It’s the type of degree that (a) unsurprisingly has a high drop-out rate and (b) has you contemplating every semester why you picked such a difficult course in the first place. No shade to any other courses at all, but there is a reason why most Law students are generally always complaining of being tired and drowning in work. Having smart friends helped me massively – we shared notes and essays, revised together, partied together, went to career events together, prepared eachother for interviews and prayed together. And in the end, we graduated together too!
Having said all of that, I learned that it is important not to forget about pre-uni friends either. All friendships both old and new need nurturing.
The friendship balance can be tricky. Not everyone you’re close to in the beginning will be standing with you at the end. But overall: exercise caution, wisdom and seek God to know His will for you when finding friends.
2. It’s not about how much you study, it’s about what you study.
Law students (I’m generalising) have this weird tendency to brag about how much work they’ve done, how many hours they were in the library for last night, how many pages of extra reading they’ve done. Students like this probably exist on all courses but I’m speaking from personal experience sha.
Yes, congratulations – all of this hard work is nice. But it isn’t necessarily helpful. It’s very tempting to get suckered into that lifestyle of overworking without thinking about strategy… especially when you get your first essay of the semester back and it’s not what you were expecting. Personally, it was really demoralising to go from being an A* student to barely being able to scrape 60% for a 2:1. I had just finished the IB, I thought realistically things couldn’t get much harder than that (lol x10).
Eventually I realised that my grades were not a reflection of my intelligence but just the poor studying choices that I’d made. Rather, being more selective about what I study, paying closer attention to the marking criteria and familiarising myself with typical exam questions was far more useful. There’s honestly no need to read every single page of recommended reading and stay up until 4am every night.
Working hard is not enough, you have to work smart.
3. Stay prayed up! God is always in control.
This goes without saying but university comes with so many challenges and obstacles. I was hurled into a foreign environment, it was my first time living away from my parents and I had so much freedom. Almost too much freedom. It’s in those moments when you realise that you’re completely responsible for yourself that your faith is tested. I honestly believe that clinging to my faith is what got me through it all.
If this applies to you, I would strongly recommend finding a bible-based church within walking distance or solidifying another way to get to church. If you don’t want to go alone, perhaps find someone to go with and make eachother accountable to attend when you can. Most universities also have religious societies which is a great place to meet and fellowship with like-minded people that share similar struggles to you.
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:25
Second year was the most tough on me – all of my compulsory modules were dry and difficult. I was being rejected from law firms for internships left, right and centre. I couldn’t even envision actually finishing my degree in one piece. But through it all, God was faithful. He provided outlets for me to pray, release my stress and ultimately helped me to grow from the pressure. Shout out to my QM Unite family! Dancing in our shows “Come Union” and “One Accord” are some of the highlights of my entire three years at university #TurnUpForJesus.
4. Choose your modules wisely; work to your strengths
Academically, I performed the best in my final year of university and a big reason for this is because I worked to my own strengths. As someone who enjoys writing (duh), I chose to write a 15,000 word dissertation over sitting another 100% exam module and it paid off. I didn’t let the fact that none of my close friends were doing dissertations stop me either.
If you get the opportunity to pick modules – don’t just blindly follow your friends/the crowd. Identify your strengths, do your research and then choose what you’re passionate about.
5. “Your network is your net worth”
I kid you not. I went to at least 30 networking events (including internships and various competitive schemes) in my first year of university alone. Some people thought it was excessive I’m sure… or that I was being extra, but networking has built up my connections massively.
At first I was just putting myself out there for my CV but I realised that meeting people in my field has many other benefits. The contacts I’d made from networking helped when I had to conduct interviews for my dissertation and it’s helping me now that I’m applying for graduate jobs.
So I would definitely encourage students to get out there and go to as many useful events as possible. The information and skills you’ll pick up, as well as the people you’ll meet are invaluable. It’s also kinda fun tbh but maybe that’s just me.
6. Come out of your shell and experience new things – you are allowed to enjoy your university experience
At the end of first year, I came out of my shell a bit more. I took a leap of faith and ran for Careers Officer of my African and Caribbean Society (ACS). I wasn’t particularly popular, I didn’t have a #SQUAD and I’d probably only been to one or two ACS events all year so it was a bit cheeky of me… but I had ideas and I wanted to have fun. And in the end, I got the role. I absolutely loved being Careers Officer!
Being a Christian in university doesn’t have to be rigid and boring. By all means get your degree first and foremost, that is why you go to university after all. But don’t be afraid to explore.
Use your gifts to bless others – 1 Peter 4:10, learn about yourself and enjoy the journey while it lasts.
Personally I highly recommend joining societies, exploring your university city and getting to know your course-mates and friends outside of the university environment too.
In summary, university wasn’t what I thought it would be at all – American TV can lieeee. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t go to university outside of London, perhaps it’s because I studied Law, perhaps my expectations were unrealistic – I’m not sure. But regardless of my expectations, university has been an incredible journey of struggle and success, self-discovery, friendship and growth. I will treasure these three years and the amazing people that I met along the way… and the not so amazing people too 🙂
If you’re currently at university, yet to go to university or still considering it, I hope this has been somewhat useful for you. Feel free to drop me a message on any of my socials if you have unanswered questions about studying Law, writing a Law dissertation or my university specifically – I’m @wunms on everything and my email is wunmsTCB@gmail.com.
How did you find university or did you take an alternative route? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to know your experiences too.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
God bless you!