It’s that time of year again! Freshers are descending on their unis of choice (hopefully) to embark on an entirely new adventure. Seeing as I’ve done it twice, I thought I’d share a few tips and handy resources to help you cope with starting university!
1. Do University Your Way, Unashamedly
I stayed at home while at uni, because I lived so close that it didn’t make sense to waste loads of money on moving a few miles down the road. So, if you want to stay at home and commute, do that.
Don’t be ashamed of not doing university ‘the right way’. Let’s face it, there is no right way.
You can still have fun, and also still go out, even if you’re shacked up with your ‘rents. (Did I really just say that? Apparently so.)
If you’re a mature student, did a vocational course instead of A-Levels, or you got your place at uni via a different route, then don’t feel ashamed of that either. Embrace it, because Uni is full of a variety of people! That’s one of the things that makes it such a good experience.
2. Stay Organised
Don’t rely on anyone else to sort your life out for you. That’s your job now!
Nothing will help you through Uni more than getting organised. (Except intelligence, perhaps.) Seriously, honing your time management skills and devising some sort of helpful schedule will keep you sane! You probably don’t need telling that it’s wise to keep track of deadlines, exams, and lectures/tutorials/seminars, so it might be a good idea to treat yourself to an academic diary. (Because everybody likes buying new stationery.
Nope. Just me then?)
If you’re tight for cash, which you probably are as a student, use your iCal or Google Calendar to keep your life in check instead.
It’s really important to get that work/life balance sorted out too. Make sure that you leave time for socialising and having fun, because it’ll make the hard work so much easier to contend with!
3. Look After Yourself
You will feel exhausted sometimes. Uni isn’t always a walk in the park. You’ll be close to burning out at times, particularly in your third year. (And I know that seems like an age away but it’ll soon creep up on you!)
Register with a local GP practice, or one that the university has on campus. Stock up on medicines, just in case you catch the dreaded freshers’ flu. Sign up to get the Meningitis and Septicaemia jab that you’re entitled to. (More info here!)
And I know I probably sound like your Mum, but make sure you get enough sleep each night. (Get some tips here!)
4. Count Your Pennies
This’ll feel like a really patronising piece of advice to some, but it’s really important not to blow all of your student loan in one go.
When I was at uni, it was SO tempting to splash out once that lump sum landed in my bank account, but financially, you’ll be limping along towards the end of term if you do.
Other students, who were less boring than me, would regularly blow 50 quid on one night out. One of two nights out a week. That’s a hundred quid literally down the toilet (or the drain…) each week. Try not to be like them.
And you can sign up for fantastic deals just for students, which’ll hopefully save you a few pennies here and there – Save The Student have loads.
(Also, make the most of your student discount because you will mourn hard on the day your NUS card expires.)
5. Spend Your First Year Settling In
I don’t know if all Unis are the same as the one that I did my degree at, but my first year didn’t count at all towards my final degree classification. So, that meant that I could spend the first year finding my feet and getting to grips with university life. (And Harvard Referencing, because it’s surprisingly hard… Especially if you’re rushing it hours before your deadline. Incidentally, if you don’t know about Neil’s Toolbox already, go and check it out before your first essay is due! It’s a lifesaver!)
This also helped us to get used to the University system: the grading, the coursework submission, and all of the other student admin stuff. Of course you still need to make an effort, academically, but it’s lovely not to have the extra pressure of worrying about your final classification piled on.
6. If You’re Not Happy, Talk To Someone
You don’t have to suffer in silence. There is support on offer at every uni out there, so don’t be embarrassed about reaching out and getting some help if you need it. Whether it’s something that’s going on in your personal life, your finances, the course you’re on, or even your mental health, please get help.
If you don’t feel comfortable about seeking out that support on campus, you could ring your University’s Nightline (find out here if your uni has one), or you could go to Students Against Depression, get in touch with Student Minds or The Mix, and even Samaritans on 116 123.
Be kind to yourself. Help is out there, and there’s absolutely no shame in admitting you need it.
7. Enjoy Yourself (While You Still Can!)
Within reason, obviously.
Like I said, uni will FLY by. Before you know it, you’ll be spat out onto the street trying to convince employers to give you a chance to show off your new skills. So, make the most of the time you have at university. Whether that means joining as many societies as you can, or going out on a school night, or even having lie-ins on the days you’re not cruelly dragged in for a 9am lecture – Enjoy it! Whatever it means to you, just make the most of it! (It’s more fun than graduate life, trust me.)
Enjoyed this post? You might also enjoy these (retro) posts: 5 Tips for Starting University, What I Learned From Studying Broadcast Journalism at University, or even So, I Graduated! (Again!)