The summer holidays are coming to an end, and it’s time to pack and head to university. There is a lot to take on, from moving away from your family and friends, to studying for a degree and living on your own for the first time. However, we have prepared a comprehensive guide to ensure that you are ready in time to begin your first year at University.
Separate those things that you WANT from things you NEED to take
For most, this is the first time you have been away from home for a long period of time, and the temptation can be to pack everything. Whilst there are a few home essentials that you’ll almost certainly need, taking an extra set of pans and bedding may not necessarily be needed. Instead, check your accommodation pack to find out what will be provided, and save the extra space in the car for necessities. Most of you will be taking gadgets and laptops, so ensure that you take out an insurance policy to make sure that your valuables are covered.
Sort out your finances
With thousands of students across the country, finishing your student finance application early is vital to guarantee that you won’t begin your first term without any money. Most students will benefit from opening a new bank account before they start university and many high street banks offer introductory offers with freebies for students. Shop around and see what’s out there including overdraft options with a sensible plan to ensure you don’t go over. There are also a number of discount cards available such as the 16-25 railcard and the students union card. Try to get these in advance as they will help you live on a student budget and stretch your loan as far as possible.
Living on campus is one of the most important experiences for a student, and most like to do this during their first year. Once you have received your accommodation pack, identify your budget and what your priorities are: is catered accommodation important or would you prefer the self-catered option? Would you require en-suite facilities, or even halls that are closer to your lectures? Look for advice on your chosen University’s accommodation website, alongside student reviews and ask friends who have been to your university to make recommendations.
Start preparation for your chosen course
Even before you’ve arrived at University, you should be one step ahead. Now that you have chosen your degree subject, the next step will be module selection during your first week. Have a read of your course handbook so that you make the right choices and don’t have to make any last-minute rushed decisions. Your reading list will also arrive before term starts, so get started early and by the time fresher’s week is over you will be ready to dive straight in. Next, find ways of purchasing your core textbooks cheaply, including Amazon or even second-hand from former students.
Gain work experience
The long holiday periods provide a good opportunity to gain work experience. The rule to follow is to start early and develop your core skills. Once you arrive, speak to your careers services about how you can gain experience while you study, this could involve a part-time job which will not only add value to your CV, but will also give you some extra money to support your student lifestyle. While you might think that doing this in your first year is too early, remember: the more experience you gain the more likely you are to find a job at the end of your studies. And as each year progresses, so too will your workload which could mean less time to focus on work experience, so starting early will only gain you time to impress your future employer when you graduate.
Get to know your chosen university
Start by reading the prospectus to find out more about your university’s background. You can also find out more from first-hand experiences by attending open days and speaking to current students whilst having a tour of the campus. Universities and Student Unions will also have their own social media channels, and the few months before you leave is the perfect time to follow them to ask them any questions, keep up to date with the latest news for Fresher’s week and purchase event tickets.
Speak and engage with people
Ultimately this is your university experience, and the people you meet will play a big part in your enjoyment of it. Therefore speak to friends who have graduated and see if there is any advice that they would give people starting their first year.Use social media to connect with your future flatmates and coursemates so you can share the excitement before you arrive. The Student Room is a great way to find out who will be going to your university. Getting involved in clubs and societies will also be a great way to meet fellow students with a shared passion or interest whilst trying something new.
Prepare for freshers week
Once the timetable has been released and you know what events you want to attend, you need to make sure you have everything you need to survive freshers week. Plan your fancy-dress outfits early so that you can enjoy your week and don’t have to rush to the shops last minute.
First year is arguably one of the most exciting and challenging times of your life at university. And to make things run more smoothly, there are a number of apps that will help make your University life easier. Once you are all prepared, you will be able to enjoy your first year and be ready for the next step of your career. Take a look at the internship opportunities that we have available here.