So for over a decade, you’ve effectively gone through the same routine at the same time every year; you buy fresh stationery, fresh book materials and uniforms/clothing for school and then most likely college. But now, whilst you are joining anxious school children of all ages in the supermarket queues for those needed supplies once again, it is for a different purpose. University.
You’ve succeeded in getting that interview, your student finance has been approved; your UCAS application has been confirmed. Surely that’s all you have to do?
Technically yes. However there a number of little things you can do to improve those first few weeks of starting university. I have selected my personal top ten.
- Draw up a schedule: Most basic idea in the world but most effective, even before you get your course schedule, its always a good idea to make sure at least some of your non educational commitments do not clash.
- Get any medical appointments out the way. This I learnt the hard way; a deceptively simple idea; but having those pesky eye tests, dental appointments and appointments such as asthma reviews out the way prior to the course can ease a lot of stress in the long run.
- Buy cheap. Don’t pay full price for anything if you can avoid it. An example being stationery; wait till the end of August/first day or two of September and hit the Supermarkets for some last minute bargains, you’ll be thankful for not paying 6 pounds for a notebook if you can only pay one pound.
- Get your accommodation sorted. It is one of the easiest things to think “it can wait” but you may find that if you are not living with family, accommodation places can be taken extremely quickly. When you go for your interview; try make sure that you can find out about places for students.
- Sign up for discounts. Whether or not you go for your NUS extra card, there are a number of ways you can find free discounts. Sign up to sites like hotukdeals and Moneysaving expert forums and you may be pleasantly surprised about how much money you can save.
- Learn to cook. If like me you struggle to cook, make sure that you get some advice and support on how to cook, be it from a family member or friend; cooking your own food and making your lunches may seem time consuming, but at the end of the week, the money saved can make a real difference.
- Set up a student bank account: Even if you keep your current one, I would highly recommend a student bank account; shop around to get the best deal; many banks offer great incentives for students to bring their custom to banks, such as rail cards and vouchers.
- Join online groups. Many universities have freshers groups on sites such as Facebook where students can reach out to other new students in order to form new friendships prior to starting at the university, which is a great way of making new friends so most of those first day fears are eased.
- Try look for a part time job. If you are on a low income, or even if you are not; securing a part time job to fit around university hours can make a real difference to your income and your CV. When you leave university; the experience will go a long way to securing the job of your dreams. Better still if you can get lucky enough to get a job that would work as a placement (should your course need a placement) it’ll save you a lot of time.
- Make sure you know where to go for support: Most colleges and universities have a vast support network for students for various needs, for disabilities/care needs/financial support. If you have any concerns about anything that may affect your studies, do not be afraid to speak up; all students are entitled to support to enable them to study.
No matter what you are studying, university can bring a lot of stress as well as excitement; so as long as a good balance is achieved; then your freshers week should be plain sailing. May the next few years be great for all of us! 🙂