You’ve finished your A-levels, you’ve been accepted to your first choice university, and now you’ve packed a bag and are completely ready to go! Or are you?...
Are you staying on campus? Do you have reading or work to complete before you start? Have you considered your finances? Meals? Professors?
For some of you, this will be the first time you’ve ever been away from your families, and we understand just how difficult this can be. We’ve listed ten top tips to give you some guidance on how to best prepare and enjoy your university experience!
1. Money Matters! Make the Most of your Budget
Before you start university, find out if you are entitled to any maintenance loans or grants, which can be calculated here, and make sure you check any deadlines for when you need to apply and get any necessary documents sent off before the deadline.
One benefit about being a student is that you are now eligible for a student card, giving you discounts across clothing, food and much more! This website has put all discounts in one handy place, but it’s worth remembering that your student card can also be linked to existing points cards for shops like Boots!
Of course, if you find yourself really struggling whilst at university, please speak to a member of staff, as there should be people to help with any financial advice, and it might be that you are entitled to grants that you didn’t even know existed!
2. Reading List, Materials, Coursework - Sorted!
Make an effort to get on top of your reading list and make good use of the summer holidays to research the content of the first term. Consider the books and materials you may have to purchase and, if available, try to go for second-hand to save yourself a few pennies.
3. Keeping Expectations Realistic
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but no one can excel at everything! It’s a laudable aim to ace every exam and assessment, but if you don’t quite hit the mark on one or two of them, don’t stress. Academic burnout is very real and can result not only in frustration, but a lack of motivation.
Keep on top of your coursework, but take frequent breaks to let your mind reset!
4. Stay Up-to-Date With your Emails
Keeping a fresh and tidy inbox will mean that you can stay on top of any communication that comes your way. Chances are if there is ever a cancelled class, impending assignment due date or suggested readings to stay on top of, you will receive a reminder email.
Make a note of the emails and methods of communication provided by your professor and TA. Don't be afraid to ask them questions or seek guidance (that’s what they’re there for!) if you can’t find the answer in the materials provided.
5. Stay in Touch With Family and Friends
The first few weeks of university can be daunting, especially if this is the first time you’re living away from home. Regardless of how far across the country you are moving (and in some cases, moving to a different country altogether!), you will be experiencing a big change, so why not ease that change and schedule some time every week to speak to your family and friends?
Even a quick call or FaceTime on your way to the library will give you the familiarity of home you might be craving. Prioritise staying in contact with your loved ones, not just in order to share your news of what’s happening at uni (and I’m sure they’re excited to hear all about it too!), but to make a massive positive impact on your mental health, too. Win win!
6. Know your Accommodations
Are you staying in halls? Are you off campus?
No matter where you’re staying, work out how close you will be to your classes and plan a route ahead of time. Familiarising yourself with your surroundings will mean the difference between getting lost on the first day and arriving early for your lectures!
7. It's What’s Inside That Counts…
…both inside your fridge and your stomach!
When we have a new and busy schedule, it’s easy to let our food habits slide and sacrifice nutritional food for convenience, but it’s really important to fuel yourself with nourishing and healthy food to maximise your brainpower.
A great way to make sure you’re getting all of your necessary fruit and veg stocked up is to check if your local supermarket creates ‘wonky’ or ‘too good to waste’ boxes. These boxes are a great way to help surplus food waste and stock up for the week for as little as £1.50!
Before you head to uni, get yourself some Tupperwares (or even plastic takeaway boxes!) and set aside some time to cook some of your favourite meals in bulk that can then be frozen and ready to re-heat when you’re in need of a quick meal. From stews to curries and pasta sauces, there are many recipes shared by some great chefs on social media offering plenty of inspiration (we’re looking at you, Jack Monroe and Miguel Barclay!).
8. Go and Get Involved!
One of the most intimidating aspects of starting university can be the thought of having to make new friends and meet new people, however, it is incredibly common that the friends you make at university are going to be some of your closest friends for life. A great way to kick-start the process of meeting people early on is to join your Student Union and sign up for extra-curricular classes.
It’s also very likely that, during your first week of university, you will have something called a Freshers Fair. This might be a one day, or even week-long event where different pockets of the Student Union will advertise which societies and groups you can join: from Acapella to angling and climate to crochet, there really will be something for everyone.
9. Make Mental Health a Priority: You’re Not Alone
Starting university is a massive change, and one that mustn’t be underestimated. There will be so much going on that can make you feel out of sorts: the demands of work and revision, managing your finances and simply being away from home.
Speaking about your feelings can be a bit daunting, but this is a proven way to help combat loneliness and stress:
- Chat to someone you trust like a family member or close friend. Even if you don’t want any advice from them, just having someone to listen to you can really help, and gives a huge sense of release and relief.
- Some universities offer free, short-term counselling or talking therapy sessions that you can attend. Check your university’s website for more information.
- Mind, the mental health charity, has some really helpful advice for students here, whilst the NHS website has some very detailed and accessible advice here. If you’re worried about the immediate effects of your mental health, or that of someone close, please call 999.
10. Boost your Brainpower
According to a study from Harvard, regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills - the perfect way to prepare for that exam after all. Exercising is also famous for reducing the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, and you can choose whichever form of exercise suits you - the goal is to give yourself some time to breathe and connect to your body.
While you’re at it, why not get a good night’s sleep? A regular sleep routine is really important to uphold, and it’s best to aim for 8 hours a night to really feel the benefit to your studies.
As you embark on your journey to university, we hope these tips have given you the confidence you need to feel prepared.
If you require a helping hand with any of your course-related work, we have tutors who are able to work with you at all levels, from undergraduate to graduate studies. Equally, if you would like to join us and be a part of our team of tutors please get in touch - we’d love to meet you.
On behalf of all of us here at Titanium Tutors, we wish you the best of luck for your new adventure!
Blog Post Crafted by Cheryl
Cheryl manages our Admin Team, and is a qualified teacher with 5 years' experience in schools across England and Canada.
Cheryl graduated from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce and a Minor in English, and from University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Education, with a specialisation in Aboriginal Studies. She tutored secondary school students in English for over nine years in Canada.
Cheryl speaks Cantonese, English and French, and in her spare time, she can be found illustrating and reading children’s books for inspiration.