starting university

Starting University – 5 tips for new students

Congratulations – you are going to university!

Your A levels are finished, UCAS is behind you and you’re off to university.
Starting university should be exciting and fun, but it can also be a bit scary.  Here are 5 tips to help you settle in: 

1) You may be moving into halls or a shared house

Particularly in halls, the people you are sharing with are likely to be strangers and some of them may not be your first choice of housemate.  But, social distancing accepted,  do make the effort to try and get to know them, as university is a time of life when you will meet people from totally different backgrounds, locations and cultures.  Sometimes the most unlikely friendships can spring up from getting to know your housemates.  I am still in touch with several of the housemates I met at university and one of them became my closest friend.  Take a chance – it will be worth it.   

2) Join in from the start

Everyone is new, everyone is uncertain, so now is a good time to get involved with the hobby, club, society or sport that you always fancied trying.  Usually there is a freshers’ fair where you can find out about these opportunities and there will be something for everyone.  Even if your freshers’ fair is cancelled due to Covid this year,  you are likely to find opportunities somewhere on the university website or associated websites.  If you don’t know where to start, the student’s union is usually a good bet. 

3) Don’t forget to carry your NUS card

This is a great benefit to being a student as it gives you access to numerous discounts.  It can make all the difference when you are on a tight budget.  https://www.nus.org.uk

4) Talking of budgets, remember that you need to make your money last at university

Don’t be like one of my students, who blew his student loan on new clothes, shoes and a roaring social life – before realising he actually had to eat for the rest of term!  Make yourself a budget and stick to it.  No one is saying you shouldn’t have fun, but if you run into financial trouble university life will soon stop being fun at all.  If things start to go wrong with your money, talk to your university or college as soon as possible.  They should be able to help. 

5) If you take on a part-time job, first check that this will not be a problem with the university

Some universities have rules that restrict the number of hours you can work whilst doing a degree.  Once you have established that, you may find work in the local community, or within the university itself.  Some of my students, for example, have found part-time positions in the library or student café.  It may be harder than usual to pick up a part-time job this year, but if this is what you want – go for it.  

Most of all, enjoy this time.  You have worked hard to get here and the next 3 or 4 years should be some of the best of your life.

Work hard and have fun! 

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