There’s a lot to think about when you’re about to start university so we’ve created a simple list of things you need to consider before you start!
1- Arrange your accommodation
When finding somewhere to live while you’re at university, many first-year students chose to stay in ‘Halls’ as they are managed by the university and are a really easy way of meeting other first-year students.
Whereas privately rented housing or off-campus university accommodation is more popular with mature or postgraduate students.
Of course, if you are attending a local university you may choose to save costs and live at home but if you do decide to go for university-owned housing then you’ll often have the option of catered or self-catered, sociable, or quiet and single or mixed gender. It’s a good idea to start thinking about your preferred living situation early as most halls are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis.
For more information, contact your universities accommodation office.
2- Think about your finances
We know it’s not very fun but it’s important to consider your finances so you can budget for the year ahead.
Firstly, set up a student bank account. Many banks offer these with extra incentives such as discount travel so ensure you look into what benefits would suit you. However, the most important thing you should look for is the bank with the best 0% interest overdraft facilities.
If you’re expecting to receive government-funded student finance then you need to get in touch with your relevant student finance body to start the process.
• Student Finance England
• Student Finance Wales
• Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
• Student Finance NI
Once you know how much funding you are entitled to, your part-time job earnings and any other income, you can start to budget for the next year according. Make sure you factor in food, utility bills, course materials, clothes, travel costs and of course socialising.
3 - Packing
Firstly, find out what is provided at your chosen accommodation and is it furnished? There’s no point buying things that are already provided. Then, find out how much storage space you will have so you don’t take too much!
If you’re taking a laptop, desktop, tablet and any other gadgets, we recommend you look into insuring them. You may be able to do this through your bank.
4 - Think about travel
Look into what you are entitled to especially if you are considering traveling home regularly.
A 16-25 railcard takes a third off the price of all train fees and could save you some serious cash. The card costs just £30 per year, or £70 for three years.
Taking a car to university is not normally recommended. Parking may be limited and/or you will have to pay for a permit and University car parks are often not cheap. If you’re in a big city then public transport links to the university and university accomdation will keep you connected. Alternatively, you might want to consider taking a bike as this can be effective in the long run. Some universities and students' unions run bicycle loan schemes so discover if you stand to benefit from one at your chosen institution. 5 - Start Reading Many universities put their reading lists online weeks before the course begins so to give you an idea of what to expect from your workload and allow you a head start on getting organised. Starting your reading will not only give you a head start but also give you some added confidence when beginning lectures. You don’t need to purchase every book on the list, just choose the core tests to purchase and any others can be borrowed from the library or bought from former students for a fraction of the price. 6 - Learn to cook While you’re still at home, practice making your favorite meals and ask for help while there is someone around! You can pick up student cookbooks or google simple budget recipes for ideas. Shopping cheaply is easy enough, Aldi is a great place to start. A good tip is to always check the expiry dates on the food you’re buying and ensure you will be cooking it before the exp date to avoid any wastage and freeze food if you’re not going to eat it in time. Morrisons has a Students Club providing discounts and co-op offer a 10% discount to those with a TOTUM card. 7 - Spend time with family and friends Make sure you spend some quality time with your family and friends before setting off for university. If you’re moving far away to study, you might not be able to see them for months and while you’ll be meeting lots of new people, homesickness is completely normal and might kick in once you’ve settled. Photos or mementos in your bedroom of recent memories are a good way to combat these feelings. 8 - Get to know the area Ideally, if you can visit your universities city or town, you’ll be able to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings which will leave you feeling much more confident upon moving. If you can’t make a special trip, make the most of your visit on open day. Even a virtual tour experience will help give you an idea of what to expect. Once you’ve moved, take some time to walk around the local area and learn where you nearest train strain is, local shops, GP surgery, campus library, student union and lecture buildings. 9 - Consider a health check It’s always worth being checked over by your doctor before you leave home to ensure you’re heading to university in the best health possible. It’s common for first-year students to suffer from 'Freshers Flu’ which is due to lack of sleep and exercise, a drastic change in diet and coming into contact with hundreds of new people in a short space of time so making sure you immune system is strong would be a great start. 10 - Get involved in freshers week The welcome period is full of events designed to help you settle into university life so make the most of it and find out what your student union has available. Your course department might hold an icebreaker session during this time which is a great opportunity to meet your peers and lecturers. You don’t have any course commitments during this time so it’s a great time to immerse yourself in activities.