Starting University

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Our top tips!

  • Prepare yourself for independence
    If university will be your first experience away from home, it may be a good idea to get into some good habits for living independently. Practice doing your own laundry, learn some simple cooking recipes, book your own appointments and go food shopping. 
  • Connect on social media
    Following your university’s pages on social media will allow you to  connect with other students and find out what life there is like. Some universities have Freshers groups that help you to meet others who will be studying your course living in your halls before you arrive. 
  • Make sure that you do your research
    Make sure you know what your University halls supply before you start buying things. If you know which items you’ll need, you can make sure you don’t overpack or buy things unnecessarily.

So... you're starting university?

Starting university is an important milestone in your life and can be filled with excitement and joy, but also feelings of anxiety and dread. Whether you’re living in halls or commuting from home, starting university can be daunting.

This may be the first time in your life that you will be living away from your family and will have to be independent. Likewise, you may have been lucky enough to complete your education up until now with the same group of friends and peers, so university may be the first time you feel that you’re facing a new journey alone. Rest assured, this is not the case.

This page is designed to give you information on how to prepare for starting university but there will also be information on how to start planning your new life after your studies at school and college. You may be getting ready to go to university in the coming months, or you may not even have started applying.

Whatever stage you are at, the information on this page will help you to find out more about university life and prepare for this exciting next chapter.

Tips for applying to university

Do your research

Doing research is important. Wanting to study a particular subject does not mean that you will like the course of that name at every university. Researching the places where you might want to study – from a social and academic perspective – will help you to make the best decision.

Talk to your teachers

Your teachers help people to apply to university every year and will be able to give you all of the guidance that you need. They can help you understand the process of applying, and may also have knowledge of particular universities so can recommend some to start looking at.

Work out your deadlines early

Once you have learned about the process of applying for university, it is a good idea to look at all of the deadlines ahead of time and write them down. You could even put these as reminders in your phone or on a calendar. This takes some of the stress out of the process.

Think about the future

If you are struggling to think about what courses you want to do, don’t worry. It can be very hard to make such a big decision at this age. Take some time to think about the future and what you might want to do in life to help you decide. It doesn’t matter if this changes in the future!

What is Freshers' week?

Freshers’ Week happens at every university – over the course of a week, there will be a series of events that are designed to bring new students together so they can meet others in their year group and find out more about the opportunities available at the university.

All universities try to tailor different events to different people so that everyone should be able to find activities that they will enjoy.

Do I have to drink alcohol at Freshers?
Although it may seem like everyone drinks alcohol during Freshers week, this is not the case and you should not feel pressurised to do so if you don’t want to. Universities work hard to offer a wide range of events, many of which will not involve being in an environment where people are drinking alcohol. For example, some universities may hold events such as BBQs, quizzes or games nights.

Attending Freshers Week events can be really valuable as it helps you to settle in and meet new people, but you should not feel pressurised to attend particular events if you do not feel comfortable doing so or would prefer not to. However, there will undoubtedly be plenty of opportunities to meet people outside of events that involve drinking and partying.

What can I do to prepare for university?

Use social media

Social media will be a really useful resource for you before you begin your course, and at the start. Social media groups, pages and group chats will allow you to meet other people studying your course or living in the same accommodation as you before you arrive.

Attend open days

Open days are a great way for you to learn more about individual universities. Most people will attend open days whilst they are deciding which courses and universities to apply to, but many universities also have post-offer open days for those who have been accepted.

Work out your budget

Once you’ve had your student loan amount confirmed it’s important to work out how much of this will go towards your rent. From there you can work out how much money you have available per week for food and social activities. Don’t fall into the trap of spending too much!

Look at what you need

Your course will likely send out a list of things that you will need ahead of time, but make sure you take the time to think about how you can be best prepared. Think about what you will need for your accommodation, your course, and any extracurricular activities (such as sports).

I think I might need some help... what do I do?

At any point, you may need some support. This may be support with applying to university; preparing for and starting university; or anything once you are at university.

There are so many resources available to help, so make sure that you reach out to people if you need some additional support! 

Get support!
If you are in this situation, make sure that you reach out to somebody as soon as possible.
Speak to us

Not all of our mentors have been to university, but they certainly know how important it is to be prepared, and know who might be able to help you if you need it. If you are struggling with any aspect of your university career, reach out to our friendly mentors for some support.

Speak to a teacher or your tutor

If you are applying for university, speak to your teacher at school. They help people get into university every year and will be able to guide you. If you are starting university or are already there, reach out to your tutor or lecturer for additional support. 

Speak to someone who knows!

If you are struggling, it can always be a good idea to speak with someone else who understands. This may be your parents, or someone else that you know who has been to university before. It could even be one of your coursemates if you are already at university.

What if I need help at university?

All universities will offer support for a range of issues. This can include: financial support and budgeting; career and CV-building support; and disability and mental health support. There is often also a general ‘help-zone’.

During induction at university, you will meet your Personal Tutor, who is responsible for overseeing your academic studies and providing any personal support that you might need. Your tutor will be a good person to speak to if you are looking for support, or are unsure of what support is available to you. University accommodation blocks will also have a security team available at all times. If you need support now, you can call our helpline. Do not hesitate to ring 999 if you are in immediate danger.

Never suffer in silence if you need help with absolutely anything while you are at university. Your lecturers, tutors and peers want you to succeed at university just as much as you do, so make sure that you use all of the resources available.

What if I start to feel homesick?

Although they might not admit it, most people feel homesick during the first few weeks or months of university. This is perfectly normal. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to combat this.

  • Bringing photographs and other personal possessions from home can help make your room feel a bit more homely.
  • Before heading off to university, it may be useful to sit down with your friends and family to discuss the idea of regular phone calls or video chats. For example, you may find it helpful to speak with your parents once a week, or even every evening for the first few weeks.
  • Spending time with your friends and flatmates at university will help you to feel settled. They will also likely be experiencing similar feelings to you so can be a good source of support.

If you’re feeling homesick, try to avoid going back home until you feel that you have settled in at university as it can make the transition even harder. This is definitely easier said that done, but it will be much easier to go back to university once you feel settled than if you go home while you are feeling homesick.