Beginning University: a 2nd year perspective

By Tom Young


Beginning university is a time of uncertainties. Will you make friends easily? Can you manage to balance a social life with your academic activities? Is there anywhere local that still serves booze at four in the morning? In a period of your life where everything seems a bit up in the air, there is one certainty that will keep you sane: who you are.

Local boozer: gargoyle on York Minster depicting a Medieval student night out. Perhaps. Credit: SaraJB (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
If there is one thing I can tell you about my first year studying at York St John University, it’s that I discovered more about who I am in that single year than I have throughout the rest of my life. I have worked with a faculty that tailored my education to suit me individually. My lecturers observe what interests me, how I want to work and encourage me to take the path that I have chosen, not one that has been chosen for me. I have been provided with independence, so that I can take pride in knowing that what I achieve is mine. I have been presented with opportunities to work collaboratively with others, to learn how I can contribute to build something bigger than myself. Engaging with alternative perspectives to convey the messages of many feels like the first steps you take to become a member of a global society, one that is intelligent and progressive.

When you are in an environment that constantly challenges you and encourages you to overreach your perceived grasp, you are not just being educated; your identity is being revealed to you. I would argue that the greatest reward you can take away from your time at university is the knowledge that you have your own style, your own method and your own way. With this knowledge, you can begin the rest of your life striding with confidence, excited by the momentum your hard work continues to create. You could be forgiven for believing that success is a fruit that simply needs to be plucked from the tree. Be ambitious, reach out and take what is yours.


I began my degree with the question “What am I going to do with my life?” and here I am a year later, only a third of the way into my studies, saying “There is nothing I can’t do with my life”. This sense of identity and assurance in yourself is the invaluable certainty York St John University provides you with, the sturdy buoyancy you need in a time that can make you feel like you’re treading water.