So, as some of you may or may not remember, in the latter part of 2015 I wrote an article called ‘Being Prepared’ which you can read here, and in that article I addressed some little pointers that you can use to be prepared for lectures etc etc. Of course, in my time writing, I have wrote a lot surrounding how to prepare for university but now, as I start Third Year I am going to re-cover some of those ‘amazing’ key hints & tips for you First Years in this article, ‘Being Prepared (NO.2)’!

Now, finishing your A-Levels and waiting for grades and finally getting that email saying you’ve been accepted to university is an extremely emotional rollercoaster that seems never ending – it’s an extremely stressful time. It’s a mess and/or mix of emotions and feelings and at the same time, an exciting experience.

However, the brick wall of realisation soon hits after the excitement of being accepted into university falls away and you realise… you have to be independent. You have to prepare and even though you have a couple of months to prepare – it isn’t that long.

Let’s start with the build up to university.

What to do once you’ve been accepted;

  • If you haven’t already, apply for Student Finance. A lot of people apply for this before they know if they’ve been accepted for university so it’s done in plenty of time, but if you haven’t, get over to Student Finance and apply as soon as possible. Personal Tip! – There are plenty of horror stories about Student Finance and students getting annoyed with them. I can personally say I’ve never encountered a problem with Student Finance and believe it depends on how you handle it – if some information is wrong and confusing, contact them and find out. Every phone call I’ve had with them has sorted my problem out instantly!
  • At the same time, you can have a look at the bursaries and grants that you are entitled too from your university or other organisations to help you with money – you never know who’s out there willing to give you money to give to university and no, I’m not talking about loan sharks.
  • If you’re moving away to halls, plan out your finances NOW (even if they’re rough). You can have a rough idea of what you’ll get from Student Finance and then take into account any money you’ve saved up or any part time job income that you have – calculate all finances going on and then calculate how much is going out. Once that’s done, figure out how much you’ll have per week to live on. Some people have fairly little, some people have quite a lot – it just depends on the person and the circumstances – but ALWAYS be on top of your finances. Personal Tip! – Do this at the beginning of every year and even go over it now and again to make sure you’re keeping on track. There is nothing worse than going into finance freak out!
  • Plan out what you’re going to need to take to university with you. If you’re moving into halls make a list of what you need to take. For example:

Kettle, Pots & Pans, Cutlery, Plates & Bowls, Tea Towels etc, Lamps, Home Comforts, Bedding, Decorations, Storage etc.

Everybody’s list of what they take is different as they need different things but it’s important to look at what you already have that you can take and what you need to go out and buy – don’t buy items if you don’t need too. Personal Tip! – If you are taking a lamp to university, stock up on bulbs, it’s amazing how much effort it is to go out and buy bulbs for a lamp and get the right ones. Once you’ve got your list – make a day of it! Go out university shopping and make sure you shop around, places like Wilkinson’s / Dunelm / Ikea and others are great places to do your university to shop. Personal Tip! – Take pictures of friends and family, there are loads of websites out there where you can get 100 prints for like £2 and take some memories of home!

  • Pack up early but not too early. Make sure you are packed a week or so in advance so you can double check on things that you need and ask yourself “Do I really need that 10th cushion for my room?” because the chances are you don’t!
  • Plan out what you’ll need to take to lectures, this means a fantastic opportunity to restock your stationary, just like old times! It’s time for a trip to WHSmith. Stock up on note pads, pens, highlighters, sticky notes and so on and so fourth. Oh! Don’t forget to chuck in the additional new bag and pencil case! (I joke, but I mean, if you want too!). Personal Tip! – In this day and age, technology is a students best friend and I understand that some people prefer to stick to the pen and paper method but as I wrote in an article a long time ago, I prefer using my iPad mini now! If you’d like to read why and the benefits of that check out the article here.
  • PLAN AHEAD. What I mean by this, plan out your shopping. Before university I did a ‘test shop’ by myself to see how much I’d spend in a week on shopping and the kind of things that I’d be looking at buying. If you feel like you can’t cook – then get practicing! There are loads of student cookbooks out there and they are really helpful and useful – make the most of them and enjoy cooking! You will fall into the student life style of cooking at some point but try not too! Understand the kind of things you’ll need to buy each week and stick to it as best you can! Every now and again, change you recipes and shake up it a little. Personal Tip! – If you manage to shop as a whole with your flat, DO IT! It makes it cheaper for you and generally gives you a shop that lasts a couple of weeks – but don’t worry, just buy the mains with them – you can still by treats and snacks for yourself!

Course wise;

  • It’s important to be ready for your course but the number of potential students that don’t know how they can prepare themselves for their course is scary! First and foremost, revisit the course page on the universities website or look in the prospectus and read about the course as a whole. Look at the module breakdown and what you’ll be study in each term in each year – therefore, you can prepare yourself for the upcoming modules. Personal Tip! – Try and find past or present students and talk to them about the course and what it was like and find out their personal tips for studying on the course. It sounds scary but there are a lot of people out there on your course willing to help. Seek out Facebook groups etc.
  • Seek out the reading list! Depending on the course, you may have a lot to read or very little. You may have a lot that you HAVE to read or a course where it’s all optional. Some people love reading, others don’t but it’s important to read because you’re passionate about your course and want to expand your knowledge outside of lectures. This will help you in assignments because you’ll have a wider knowledge of what you’re talking about. Personal Tip! – Email the lecturer about a reading list. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t started yet, the tutors will help you out and send you some reading to help you through summer – again, equally, ask other students.
  • Look for other people on your course – you’ll find a lot of people during Freshers but attempt to find people studying the course before hand so when you start, you have a friendly face there. A good place to seek out people studying your course is heading over and using The Student Room. You’ll always find me over there answering questions and what not.

The first couple of weeks;

This is more than likely the time you will spend stressing about the most. I know I did and there is evidence of that in my first ever posts to this WordPress. You can see how I was feeling with the build up to moving in day – what a stressful time. 

  • ENJOY MOVING IN DAY. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be a whirlwind of emotions and feelings but at the end of the day, it’s a pretty exciting time. Enjoy packing the car up in the morning and setting off early to get to your halls – once you’re there, mingle! As you’re bringing your stuff in, prop your door open and let people say hi, equally, walk around and say hi! Personal Tip! – Bring cookies or sweets or cakes and leave them in your common room with a note saying your name, what room you’re in and allow them to take them and come and say hi – a good little ice breaker. 
  • I won’t lie to you, the first evening may not be the easiest in the world. It’s different for everyone as most things are when it comes to university but it is difficult for the majority. I’ve never experienced a university where their first night of Freshers doesn’t coincide with moving in day so usually, once you’ve packed up and your family has left you are left there with a flat full of people to get to know and you all start getting ready for a night out so you have little time to think about much else! But if on the off chance your first night, there is nothing to do. Make something to do! Go exploring with your new flat mates, go for a pint or two. Just enjoy yourself and don’t lock yourself away!
  • I’ve covered this point before but I’ve still seen it raised so much on The Student Room – no, you DO NOT have to drink during Freshers. Freshers is stereotypically known for being a wild week of drinking, sex, junk food and hangovers – yeah, to be honest, for the most part it is but it doesn’t mean you have to take part in all of that. Let me help you understand; during Freshers week (usually) all the evening events will take part in the SU and there will be various themed nights for you to take part – you can still enjoy these without drinking. HOWEVER, during the days the university will hold many different events that allow you to explore the university, such as Freshers Fair, socials, small events, BBQ’s and so on and so fourth – there is a lot to do and if not, explore your city! Get to know the local pub, get to know how far the walk to town is or where the nearest shop is – there is so much to learn about your city, go explore your new home!
  • As well as all of this, it’s important to take some time to yourself and ground yourself in your new surroundings. Spend some time exploring for yourself and at the same time, spend a lazy day in bed in your new accommodation and make sure it’s as homely as you can make it feel. Feel comfortable in your space – no matter what. Just make sure, you are comfortable alone as well as with people.
  • Start lectures will for nerve racking but enjoy it – it’s a fun sight to behold. I fell asleep in my first ever lecture, oops! Everyone is either tired, hungover, nervous and so on and so fourth – therefore, the first lecture is a write off more than anything but use it to get to know people on your course and maybe get something to eat with them after – just be social! Yes, I understand it’s easier for some and not for others.

And there you have it, Being Prepared (NO.2)! That was probably the most enjoyable article I’ve written in a while. As usual I would like you to take note that all of these tips are what I personally believe are best and what can work when preparing for university – it’s all from personal experience.

Final Personal Tip! – No matter what ENJOY the entire experience of starting university – I feel like I took it for granted in a way and I wish I could go back and appreciate the start all over again but really, really enjoy it. Accept the high and the lows and ride with it all the way – discover yourself, explore and genuinely grow as a person.

PS: My last article Outreach did fairly poor on responses (e.g. NONE) and that’s disappointing. I really do urge you to get in touch! but if not, oh well. Just a side thought!

Message to First Years;

September is fast approaching – be prepared! Accept the nerves and ride with them. University is going to be one hell of experience and in reality, it won’t be for all of you. There is a small minority that won’t enjoy it and that’s okay. At least you’ve tried it – but if that is you, question what is was that wasn’t for you, the course? the uni? Try and solve it! And for those of you that stick it out, you have one hell of a ride ahead of you!

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