15 Essential Things You Should Do To Prepare For University
Starting university can be a daunting experience at the best of times, but even more so when you’re unprepared. Here’s some friendly advice on how to get a head start on your new life away from home. Next step: adulthood.
1. Sort out your finances.
The last thing you want is to run out of money on the last day of Freshers’ Week, because it’s embarrassingly early to call home for help. Luckily, there are steps you can take to maintain that façade of independence for the entire year.
2. Don’t leave it too late to apply for your student loan.
There are two standard loans available to students. The tuition fee loan covers the cost of tuition, whilst the maintenance loan aims to subsidise living expenses. Depending on your circumstances, you’ll be able to apply accordingly for up to nine months after the academic year commences. Obviously this will be university dependent, so be sure to check the exact start date of your course.
3. Open a student bank account.
There are countless benefits that come with a student bank account – 0% interest rates and overdrafts to name but two. You’ll have to be savvy when choosing which bank to go with however. More often than not, they’ll offer freebies to entice you in, and these can range from iPads to railcards. Don’t let these distract you from the small print. You want the bank with the largest interest-free overdraft lasting over three years. If it comes with an iPad, that’s just a bonus.
4. Know where you’re living.
You should have applied for halls by now, and you might even have had confirmation, but don’t let that stop you from doing your research. Know where you’re living, who you’re living with and what you’ll have to do to survive.
5. Find out who you’re living with.
There will be countless Facebook groups for every hall of residence, so do you’re best to sift through to the official one. Here, you’ll be able to ask questions and get legitimate responses from both students and officials. So if you want to know who you’re living with, don’t be afraid to post your room number and see who gets back to you. You never know, you might make some friends before you even turn up.
6. Make sure you’re covered.
Each hall of residence varies, so it’s worth looking into what you’re covered for insurance wise. In most cases, it’ll be up to you to protect both yourself and your stuff, so make sure you pick the right policy. You’re looking for basic student contents cover, but again, make sure you read the small print. There’s no point in insuring your £500 laptop if the policy will only compensate you for up to £250.
7. Brush up on your survival skills.
If you don’t know already, look into whether or not your halls are catered. If the answer is no, then get Mum to show you how to make a few basic dishes to keep you going. You’ll learn as you go, but you don’t want to be that guy who lives on Pot Noodle for the first month. Whilst you’re at it, you might want to ask Mum how to use a washing machine as well.
8. Get to grips with your university.
It’s fair enough if you make an active choice not to go to any of the events in Freshers’ Week, but don’t miss out just because you don’t know where or what anything is. There’s always something going on, and making an effort in that first week can save you hours asking strangers for directions in the long run.
9. Visit your Students’ Union.
If you can, get down there before Freshers’ Week starts. It’s the campus hub, so if ever you need to know what’s going on, this is the place for you. There’ll be plenty of students who are just as lost as you, and plenty of people to point you in the right direction. It’s also by far the cheapest place to drink.
10. Do your society research.
Plenty of students go to university with the intention of joining a society, but more often than not, they don’t because they don’t know what’s available to them. There will always be a list of current societies on the students’ union website at your disposal. Have a look through them a make a list of a few things you’d like to try. This way, at Freshers’ Fair, you’ll know what table to head for and you can make sure you get on the right lists. Don’t worry if you sign up for something that you’re not sure about, there will be various taster sessions over the first few weeks of the semester, so you’ve got plenty of room for trial and error.
11. Get ahead on your degree.
It’s pretty embarrassing turning up to your first seminar and being the only one that hasn’t read the material. You’ve hand-picked this course, so give yourself the chance to enjoy it.
12. Have a go on the portal.
The university portal will be your lifeline for the next three years, so know how to use it. You’ll receive your login details in advance, so you’ll have a good few weeks to get to grips with how it works. On it, you’ll find your e-mail, university news and activities, information on your course, your timetable, exam results, absence forms, lecture notes and so much more. It’s crucial that you know how to use it, because it is your way into, and escape route out of, everything that will happen to you over the next three years, academically speaking.
13. Know your reading list.
Although I wouldn’t always advise purchasing all your books in advance, it is a good idea to know what you’re going to need. The reading list will be made available to you via the university portal under each specific module. If you have time over summer, buy and read the first few on the list, that way you’re covered for the first few weeks of teaching. By the time you need the next book, you’ll know where the library is and how to use it, so you won’t have had to spend money needlessly.
14. Watch out for clashes.
Once you’ve signed up for your modules, you’ll receive a timetable. These are done automatically so it’s up to you to work out if you’ve got any clashes. Don’t do this too late or you run the risk of landing yourself in a module you never wanted to do.
15. But above all else, study a map of the UK.
Turns out, it’s a pretty big place. You don’t want to be asking, “where is that?” every time a potential new friend tells you where they’re from. Safe yourself the embarrassment.
The key to an easy, breezy first few weeks at university is to prepare yourself. You don’t have to be as thorough as all this, but make you you have some idea of where you’re going and what you’re meant to be doing, purely for your own sake. After all, university is what you make of it, so don’t leave with any regrets.