For many people, starting university is a time of mixed feelings: excitement about a new chapter in their lives, curiosity about what the next few years will bring, and trepidation at the thought of living away from home.
With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of our top ten tips for those who are starting university, which should make the transition an easy and enjoyable one, and pave the way for three or more exciting years.
1. Budget, budget, budget
You may know how much you have to live on each term or you may be planning on finding part-time work when you get there to make living costs more manageable. Whatever you do, budget carefully to ensure your money lasts for the entire term.
2. Make meeting people a priority
The first few days when starting university are key for meeting new people and making new friends. Consider propping your door open when you arrive to encourage those you’re living with to say hello, get involved in any clubs and societies that take your fancy, and go to freshers’ events when you can.
3. Plan your meals
It may sound boring, but it’s the best way to stay on track in terms of budget. Consider bulk buying things that you’ll use regularly to save money. Batch cooking is a lifesaver if you have a freezer – it’s cheaper, and it means you’ll always have something in to eat.
4. Check the libraries soon after you arrive
No doubt you’ll have been given a massive reading list for your course, and you won’t want to buy all of the books on there! Head to your university library as soon as you can and check out the books you’ll need – leave it too late and your fellow students may have nabbed every single copy.
5. Explore the local area
Before lectures start, think about logistics. Where’s the nearest place to do your food shops within your budget? Are there bus stops nearby, and where do the buses go? What’s the best way to get to lectures, and how long will it take? Figuring this out before the work starts will save you time – and stress.
6. Learn to cook
Even if it’s just the basics, you’ll need to eat while you’re there. Invest in a student cookbook or ask for cookery classes as a gift – things like stir fries, omelettes and big batches of stews, chilli con carne and pasta sauces are a good place to start.
7. Open a student bank account
Many will offer a free overdraft – and you’ll often find incentives for joining, such as a free student railcard. Shop around to see which bank offers the best deal for you.
8. Check out social media
It may be that your uni has a Facebook page for those on your course or in your year, or that conversations are being had on Twitter among those starting at the same time as you. Social media is a great way to get to know more about your fellow students and your uni before you even arrive.
9. Think about what you need to bring
You’ll find plenty of lists online detailing what students should take to university with them. Start packing in advance, giving you time to shop for anything you’re missing.
10. Have fun
There’s a reason why many people describe uni as the best years of your life – embrace the opportunities that being a student offers, and make sure you enjoy the experience, as well as working hard!