How to prepare for university – A guide for your students
Starting a new life at university can feel like a big deal. You might be moving away from home for the first time to start a course in a completely new environment. It can be overwhelming knowing where to start with your preparations for university.
Hopefully, this guide of top tips can help you.
Tips before you go to university
Top Tip 1: Check out which course material you will need.
Make a list of the equipment that you need for your actual course as your materials won’t be provided for you. This includes textbooks, writing pads and pens. Make sure your laptop and devices have enough storage for your course. Maybe invest in an external hard drive to make sure that your files are safely backed up.
Each module you undertake will have a handbook with a reading list. Most texts can be borrowed or downloaded as ebooks from the university library. Second hand books can be purchased from book sales when you get to campus – plus they might still contain notes from the previous owner!
Check to see if you have to complete an online induction before you start your course.
Top Tip 2: Get ready for independent living
Consider your food options. Can you cook? If yes, fantastic! You should consider a ‘self-catered’ accommodation option. You’ll have to set aside a weekly budget for your food shopping and cook for yourself. If you can’t cook – don’t worry. You can explore ‘catered’ accommodation options. Most or all of your meals will be provided for you. Your rent will be slightly higher to include the cost of your meals but you won’t go hungry.
Consider your domestic tasks – how do you use the washing machine? Does your family use a specific detergent or fabric softener? This would be nice to use at university so that your clothes smell like home. Also, learning how to iron your clothes and use a hoover will save you from being the ‘messiest housemate’.
Socialise early and meet other students by checking out groups on social media. You can virtually meet people living in the same accommodation or flat as you.
Top Tip 3: Sort out your ‘Life admin’
Chances are you’ve applied for student finance before you go to university. It is a good idea to get a student bank account. Many banks offer a specific package for students and can include benefits, such as a free overdraft or a free three-year railcard (a third off rail fares).
If you have a part-time job in your hometown, you may be able to transfer this to your university city. Also look into transferring to a doctors surgery close to where you’ll be living at university. Don’t wait to get ill before you do this.
If you plan on getting a part-time job at university, such as being a Student Ambassador, most employers will need to see some documents such as your passport and National Insurance number (you cannot do paid work without this). Gather your details before you go to university.
Tips when you get to university
Top Tip 1: Make the most of ‘Welcome Week’
There’ll be a range of clubs and societies trying to recruit new students. You can join as many or as little as you want. Be selective when thinking about your hobbies and how you want to spend your social time at university. For example, if you’ve always loved horse riding, find out where the horse riding society will have their stand and go and visit them for a chat.
Some universities have a ‘give it a go’ scheme where you can attend a FREE society event to see if you like it. There are no strings attached, so have fun and try something new!
Keep in mind that some societies will charge a membership fee. This could be a one off £5 payment or more to join a sports society. It is a good idea to keep some money handy at the start of term for these things.
Top Tip 2: Familiarise yourself with your new environment
Take some time in the first few weeks to explore the campus and facilities. Not just the buildings you have lectures in, but take a campus tour. One good way of learning more about the university is to become a Student Ambassador in your first year. You will be fully trained and it’s a great way to learn more about your new environment while sharing information with visitors. Plus, it might offer paid opportunities and is great for building skills on your CV.
Also make sure to explore your new city. Visit the city centre to check out the shops, museums and tourist attractions. What can you show your friends and family when they visit you at university?
Learning your new accommodation address is also important. Also learn key details such as where to collect your post or where the laundry room is. Pop a local taxi firm’s number in your phone as this will come in handy when you’re out and about and need to get home.
Top Tip 3: Know how to access student support & opportunities
Find out what is available, where and how to access this should you require student support services. There is a whole range on offer to provide advice and guidance. Examples include the careers service, accommodation team, disability service and finance team (to help with student finance and budgeting).
There is also help available in your academic department. This could be an Academic Support Tutor who will meet with you a few times per semester to check that you’re happy and on track.
There are plenty of extra-curricular opportunities to get involved with at university. To name a few, you can be a Student Ambassador, course rep, peer mentor or a committee member in a society. Once you’ve settled into your course, explore ways to learn new skills and build your CV at university.
Each university will have a different approach when it comes to dealing with COVID-19 and it is worth checking with them individually. Many are currently offering virtual campus tours and open days which offer a great alternative to viewing the campus and facilities. Carefully look through welcome packs and communication from a university for any specific details relating to COVID-19.
Preparing for Universty - As a video..