Sixth form/College is over, now it’s time to start that daunting journey of undergraduate life! Not to worry though, I’ve got 20 tips to ease you into your first year at university. Of course these are just examples, feel free to adapt tips/advice from older siblings, family or friends as well. Keep reading for 20 tips every first year student should know!
1. Create a budget for your spending, particularly if it is loan spending.
Be sensible with your money in fresher’s week and throughout your time at university. Certainly, receiving that huge sum of money from the loans company can be very exciting, just remember you have to pay rent, travel, as well as educational needs and your general maintenance for the term. It helps to make a budget and plan, that way you can monitor your spendings. Here’s a budget calculator to help you.
2. Open a separate bank account just for student finances.
Choosing the right bank for you is important, some include overdrafts for those raining days (but be careful overdraft money HAS to be paid back). Try sorting out your finances- I personally had 2 accounts with different banks (student finance was paid into one and the other I used as my everyday spender) just find what works best for you.
My top three banks include:
3. Invest in student discount cards.
Sign up for an NUS CARD or a unidays account- get discounts in stores and online, they cost about £12 for the year.
Up to 1/3 off train tickets (£30 per year but you can get a free card for 4 years with a Santander student account).
Discounts with national express and mega buses.
4. Take advantage of your mentorship program(s).
Take great advantage of your mentor or advisor to gain practical advice on your studies as well as University life as a whole. The whole idea is to learn from their experiences.
5. Join as many clubs and societies as you can.
With so many universities offering departmental, political, and cultural clubs, there’s something for everyone. In addition, there’s a variety of sports clubs, and if you’re like me with no specific interest in a particular sport, I’d advise you try as much as possible to see what you enjoy.
6. Stay focused on the get-go!
Alright so one of the biggest phrases you’ll hear is that your “first year doesn’t count”. But I’ll employ you to ignore this and work hard (and to, of course, enjoy yourself) but all in good balance. If you’re someone thinking of a year in an industry or internship, only your first year results would be used to determine your academic ability as your second year results will not be available by the time you apply. And for the rest of you, think of it as a year to understand how best you study, so when it comes to the real deal in second year you’re thinking “I’ve got this in the bag”.
7. Learn how to take notes in lectures.
During lectures take brief notes using your own abbreviations, don’t try writing word for word- not only is that impossible but you’ll also fail to understand the topic.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
As cliché as it sounds, a lot of people fail to realise the immense support system at their university. You’re investing money and a huge amount of time wherever you go- so make use of it. Don’t leave work till last minute because you don’t understand, make a start and seek assistance on others if need be.
9. Don’t shy away from opportunities that may arise.
There’s this saying my dad always told me – “don’t just go through university, let university go through you”. Take opportunities whenever they arise, enjoy your time.
10. Invest in the proper gear for the weather at your university.
Some weather around university changes often throughout the year, during the winter period (which could be your first term) temperatures can drop below freezing point and this could last until spring time. In addition, you could also get high amounts of rainfall (depends on your comparison) especially in October. Hence, investing in good quality outdoor wear and accessories is advisable.
11. Set targets for yourself.
Yes, you’re only just about to start your first year but the academic year runs out and before you know it you’re selecting modules and dissertation topics for your final year. So start from now on to plan, I find it helps to physically write down your aims and pin it on a board so you stay motivated every morning. University is not about how smart you are but how determined you are!
12. Join the freshers page.
This allows you to find information regarding your course, accommodations, and also to simply ask questions. You can also make some friends online or get to know your flatmate before you move
13. Take full advantage of Fresher’s Week.
Your fresher’s week will be one of your best times at university, from making new friends to having amazing nights out. There’s something for everyone and you’re bound to enjoy yourself.
14. Create a study routine for yourself, preferably with others.
Why not form a study group and establish a regular study routine? Study groups work well because you can all share your ideas and help each other understand. They also help eliminate laziness, because you’ve got others relying on you. Surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you.
15. Don’t waste all your money on textbooks!
Avoid buying all the listed books, you’ll most likely not need them. Instead identify the vital ones and borrow the others from the library.
16. Be a tourist in your new home!
Whether you’re a native or not, the majority of universities have a lot of attractions that are both intellectually stimulating and exciting. So get your friends together and be a tourist for the day (or year)! From the museums to the beach (on a good day) whichever takes your fancy.
17. Familiarize yourself with the health center(s).
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to just pop home whenever you get a bad belly ache, so make sure you register during your fresher’s week. There’s also various support systems if you feel like you’re getting symptoms of depression or low moods.
18. Learn to cook so you can save money on takeaways.
Try to cook rather than spending money on takeaways. Cooking doesn’t have to be daunting, you can whip up a quick spag bol in no time. Plus, it’s something fun to do with your flat mates. On the other hand, if you like gourmet style meals (that might take ages!) try cooking in large quantities and freeze in plastic containers.
19. Never forget to keep in touched with your loved ones.
Go home frequently, sometimes you just need family around you. And to keep your sanity as university can be quite stressful at times.