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Benefits of a foundation year

Rob Gresham Study

Before being offered the foundation year I had no idea they even existed. I have since learned that they are quite common (especially for art students) and are normal to do.

It would have been nice to know more about what I was doing on the foundation course, because I basically just said yes without thinking, so there were a lot of surprises throughout the year. And in the end I’m glad I did one, because I’m certainly more equipped to be a better student now. Here are a few reasons why foundation years are useful…

The hardest part about university is referencing essays. It seems so simple but when you first start doing it it feels impossible. There are so many little intricacies in doing it right, but thankfully my foundation year taught me how to do it. A lot is placed on studying skills as well as content of the course on foundation years, so it is a good way to becoming a better student. Especially referencing and we had several sessions on how to use the Harvard system correctly. Now my friends who didn’t do a foundation year are always asking my help when it comes to referencing.

My foundation was in social sciences which meant I did a module on Criminology, Sociology, Politics and Media. Now I only really wanted to do media but I’ve widened my knowledge on all of these subjects which is helpful on the journalism course I do now! I was also assessed in a variety of ways: attendance, essays, presentations, poster presentations, seminar logs and an exam so that’s pretty good prep for anything future tutors are going to throw at me. It led me to meet loads of different lectures in loads of different fields, which was really interesting. And we had these great sessions where a professional from one the subjects would come in to do a talk with us. These days really showed you what it would be like if you actually went onto the work in one of the social sciences fields, and was more engaging than just your average lecture.

Moving out to a brand new big city where you don’t know anyone can be very scary. It certainly was for me but because of my foundation year I’m over all of that now. The homesickness has been left behind, and I can concentrate on my work in my first year. It seems obvious but doing a foundation year really is a great warm up for when your degree starts. And doing a foundation year means another year to meet new people and have friends leading into starting your proper course. I met a mate on my foundation that is now on my course and we are close because of that shared bond.   

At the start of this year I felt somewhat ahead of first years because I had a year at the university behind me. I was getting lost around campus, confused by my timetable or worried about the workload because I had been through it all before. All of the early sessions where you are slowly introduced to things I had already done, and felt comfortable straight away. The timetable for a foundation year is also really relaxed, so it’s a nice breezy course to get you into the swing of things if university life seems daunting to you.

I would recommend doing a foundation year to those who perhaps struggled with their A-levels and need a year to get better at studying. Or for those that don’t really know what they want to do – loads of people on my foundation course went onto to do something completely different, so it’s a good way to keep your options open.

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