Fresher Year: 2:1 or Do One

Should fresher year count towards our degree? Or would this ruin the best year of our lives?

First year: a magical time of our lives where the only responsibility we have is keeping both our grade average and blood-alcohol content above 40% – but could it be beneficial to make it count?

We all know that first year is all about settling in to student life, but would it be that big a deal for it count for a small percentage of our degree? We asked Sarah Bull and Laura Hutchinson to fight to the death… with words.

No Pressure!

When I think back to my first year of university, I can (vaguely) remember messy nights in Crisis, pre-drinking for hours and feeling posh at the Hall formals. Little do I remember of stressing about essays and revising frantically for exams.

That is not to say that I didn’t try in first year. I valued my degree, and went to as many lectures as I could be bothered to (assuming I wasn’t struck down by the ‘Thursday morning post-Crisis flu’, a recognised medical condition…) I did my essays and handed them in on time, and genuinely took an interest in my modules. However, the social aspect of first year or the ‘adjustment period’ as I like to call it was far more important to me than any essays or exams I had on.

We must remember that unless you were privileged enough to have taken a ‘gap yah’, this would have been the first time you had properly left the comfort, safety and parental demands of home. Depending on your personality, this would have either petrified you or delighted you like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. Imagine going through all this ‘adjustment’ whilst knowing that your marks were going to count towards your degree?

There is also a stark difference in exam style between university and sixth form. In a few of my assessments having barely scraped a pass, I could not understand why I had not achieved that many marks. But as the marks didn’t count, I took it as a learning curve and moved on. Now, in second year, I have a better understanding of how marks are awarded.

I do not believe, however, that first year marks are not important. But rather than guessing the expectations of your degree, they let you see what you’re good at, and what you need to improve on in future assessments. They ‘ease you in’ to the stresses and difficulties that you will no doubt come across in second and final years.

First year is a perfect excuse to practise being a student without the pressure of knowing your marks will count towards your final degree. It gives you the chance to experience the fresher lifestyle to the full. Those are the sorts of memories that will stick with you forever. Whilst first year adds no value to your degree, it is nonetheless a valuable life experience.

Wasted Effort

What is the point of doing a whole year of work for it to count for nothing? Shouldn’t freshers be rewarded for bothering to achieve more than a pass?

With fees now at an all time high for freshers (yeah, that’s right, I played the fees card), value for money is more important than ever – so how is it fair to pay £9000 for a year that doesn’t even count?

The material covered in first year is easier compared to second and third so having a bit of your first year count is likely to crack up your average… so long as you actually do some work once in a while instead of lazing around the JCR hungover.

Now, my biggest gripe about first year is that 40% pass mark, idolised by so many who simply can’t be bothered to turn up to their lectures, revise or god forbid actually brave a session in Hallward. If you are happy scraping along at 40%, maybe university isn’t the place for you.

We all know somebody who winged it through first year then when it came to second year, they couldn’t handle it. Having first year count would lessen the number of people having work-related melt downs in second year after a year of dossing around.

You can argue that being a fresher is all about going out every night and exploring your new found freedom. But having a small percentage of your first year count wouldn’t mean the end of this though.

After all, first year counts for Medical students but some of the medics I met in first year were the biggest party animals I know (we have all heard stories about the infamous medic rag raids, right?) So if they can pass and still have fun, so can the rest of us.

Having first year not count towards your degree can take off some of the pressure while you settle into a year full of lads, lash and banter. But really… how hard is it to go to a few lectures, write the odd essay and learn how to turn on a washing machine?

Just imagine if first year was worth say 10% of your degree. That would be 10% less to worry about in second and third year when the pressure steps up a notch. It is so little that if you did skip one too many lectures, or drank far too many jagerbombs it wouldn’t affect you too much. And if you actually did knuckle down in between Ocean sessions, you could be rewarded for it!

Sounds ideal to me.

Who do you agree with? Would hurt to let first year count just a little? Or should we be left to enjoy our final year of next to no responsibility? Let us hear your thoughts! If your passionate about an issue and want to make your voice heard, email us at [email protected]