Ten Tips for Preparing for University Life
Whether you already hold an unconditional offer for your dream University, you’re anxiously awaiting results day in August to see if the results lurking in the brown envelope will meet the conditions of your offer, or you’re preparing to go through clearing or adjustment, for many students the next step of the journey – preparing for University life – is laden with more anxiety than awaiting results. That’s why we have compiled our top ten tips for how best to prepare for this stage of your life:
- Plan Ahead, in all senses! Don’t wait until the week before you leave to start thinking about what you need to take with you, and definitely don’t wait until you arrive at University to familiarise yourself with course content and reading lists. Keep on top of things from the start, to reduce the risk of being overwhelmed a few days into your new life.
- Become finance-savvy! If you require financial assistance, make sure that your applications have been submitted promptly (either to the Student Loans Company (SLC) or to the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)). Delaying an application can also delay your payment – and a dwindling bank balance is not what you will want to be at the forefront of your mind in the first week of University. Also begin to plan your budget: sit down with a parent, guardian, or a friend who knows their way around a spreadsheet, and think about how much you can realistically afford to spend on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Budgeting is a crucial skill, not just for University but for the rest of your life, so it is imperative that you are well-equipped to tackle the strains of a student budget.
- Make sure your accommodation is finalised. Most first-year students will live on campus, or in University-owned residences, and will be automatically offered a room. However, it is your responsibility to make sure deposits are paid on time, your paperwork is ready, and you have read all of the Terms and Conditions. If you are not moving into Halls of Residence, leave yourself plenty of time to find a suitable house. This can be stressful, and you may be disappointed to not be living on campus, but get in touch with your new University so that they can guide you towards the right organisations to help you find a safe and suitable home.
- Make a list of names-to-know. Spend some time on the University website and list down the names, numbers, and email addresses of helpful staff members. You might want to start by knowing: who best to contact at the main library, who to talk to about financial issues, who to speak to about your accommodation, campus counsellors, student representatives, and your head of degree. You never know when you might need these names and numbers, and it helps to be prepared!
- Visit your new city. If you are able to do so, visit your new University town/city before making the big move. Go with someone you trust, and get a feel for the area and for walking distances. This may help to settle some of those pre-move nerves, and make the new town feel like home. For students moving particularly far afield, this may not be possible, but don’t underestimate the power of Google Maps and Streetview for familiarising yourself with walking routes and town layouts!
- Brush up your cooking skills. You probably won’t have the time at University to be regularly rustling up a three course meal, but we would advise perfecting a handful of recipes before you fly the nest. Try to have a recipe under your belt for each of these occasions: a healthy meal for when you are stressed and have little prep time; a favourite meal from home for when you are homesick; a good soup for when you’re under the weather; a fool proof cake/brownie/cookie recipe; something that can be shared. We promise that you’ll feel so much more ready for University life if you aren’t terrified of cooking, and far more able to tackle the stresses of deadlines if you aren’t attempt to subsist solely on plain pasta and ready-meals.
- Check, double check, and triple check that you are enrolled. Enrolling ensures that you are officially registered as a student, and without being enrolled you will not receive crucial information about your course and timetable, and you may miss induction classes. If you are unsure how to enrol – or you are unsure if you have correctly enrolled – just give your University a call and they’ll be able to check in seconds.
- Keep an eye open for internships, voluntary work, or part-time jobs. Job hunting is probably not the first thing you want to do when preparing for University, but students are increasingly expected to have wide-ranging extracurricular experience and skills when searching for jobs post-graduation. By preparing for this in advance, you stand yourself in good stead. It also helps to secure yourself some much-needed extra money!
- Find and Join University groups and networks. There will be online groups for students starting University in the new term. This is an excellent way – particularly for more nervous students – to build some bonds, source people who may be in the same accommodation block or on the same course, and make some new friends. It can feel like a weight off to already know of some people who you’ll spend the next few years studying with and living with, and by arranging to meet with someone on move-in day for a coffee, drink, or pep-talk, your nerves will be all the better for it!
- Relax. That is, of course, easier said than done! Do try, though, to get plenty of sleep, and to identify any techniques for staying calm which you can later use at University. This will differ for everyone, but some good things to try are: taking up frequent, gentle exercise such as yoga, swimming, or brisk walking (physical exercise is known to positively alter mood and decrease anxiety); eat well; try to get into a healthy sleeping routine; surround yourself with friends and family and focus on the excitement of this new stage of your life.
We hope that these tips are helpful to you! We would love to hear any tips that you might have, or any stories from your trips to University about what helped you. Additionally, if you are seeking a last-minute confidence boost or need to brush up on some theories, writing techniques, or study skills, get in touch with us directly on 0208 133 6284 and we will be happy to help you with some pre-University tuition!