Starting uni

Here are some things to consider when you're about to start uni.

Getting started at university

After all your hard work, you are now starting university. There are some things you may want to think about before you leave home.

What are accommodation arrangements

Check arrangements for moving in with your university accommodation office and find out where will you pick up your keys.

Check travel arrangements. How will you get there, and how will you travel around once you arrive.

Check out social arrangements. Have you made contact with your room mates through social media beforehand? Universities have social media pages, and it may be useful to make contact through these. You may also want to research societies and clubs beforehand through the students’ union, as well as looking at blogs from current students, as they may offer some handy tips.

What do you need to take with you?

Is there any preparatory reading you need to do, or are there any course materials you may need to take with you? Check with your course information.

You will also need to take important documents, including your passport, driving license, university admissions letter, course acceptance letter and any bursary/scholarship letters along with your insurance details. Don’t forget your rail card, if you have one.

Along with this you will need to take kitchen utensils, bedroom and bathroom items, clothing and stationery. The Save the Student website has a handy list of things you may need.

Finance and budgeting

If you are using Student Finance to pay your fees and any loans, check the details. Have you entered the correct bank account information, have you signed and returned you declaration letter, are you registered at your course provider, and has your course provider confirmed your attendance?

You may need to allow a few days for the money to enter your account.

Moneysaving Expert has loads of information on how to make the most of your money, including the best student bank account deals, and how to budget effectively.

Building study skills

UCAS have produced a series of study skills information sheets to help you make the transition into university.

Future Learn also offer a range of online courses including how to write essays at degree level and how to study online.

Student Life and staying safe

Universities will have information at Freshers’ Week on staying safe, and the police often attend in the first few weeks to help you with information on staying safe, but below are some tips to help you stay safe.

Ensure your windows and doors are locked, and that your expensive personal items, such as your laptop and phone are not left on display.

Make sure you update any work in the event that your things do get stolen.

Take photos of your equipment, and note any serial numbers.

If you are heading out on a night out, make sure everyone gets back safely and that no-one is left alone.

The Get Safe Online website has information on how to stay safe online, and how to protect your personal information.

If you are worried about your, or someone else’s drinking or drug use, you can visit Talk to Frank for help and advice.

Student Minds is the student’s mental health charity, and they have loads of really useful information if you feel you or your friends may be suffering with mental ill health.

Withdrawing or Transferring

If you change your mind after you have started university or college and whatever the reason, there are some things you need to do.

  • Talk to your course tutor at the university or college, they will be able to look at the options with you.
  • They will be able to offer you support, including advice or wellbeing services, depending on your needs, plus you may be able to access additional help at Student Space or Student Minds. If you are struggling with finances, they may be able to provide hardship funding
  • Speak to the Careers team at your university or college if you have had a change of heart about your career options and you now feel your course is not relevant. You can also find information from Prospects.
  • If you are finding your course difficult to manage, you may want to consider a different mode of study. Talk to your tutors about part-time or distance learning.

It may be possible to transfer onto a different course at your current uni or apply to join a course at a different university or college.

  • If you want to transfer course at your current university or college, talk to the course tutors to see if this is possible. It will depend on a range of factors such as whether there are places and whether you meet the entry requirements.
  • If you wish to transfer to another university, you will need to talk to them to see if there are spaces and you will still need to apply in the usual manner. You may be able to transfer some of your credits across, if you have done the first year of your learning for example, but you may need to start over.

You may want to consider taking a break and continuing your studies in a year’s time. You will need to talk to your university or college to see if this is possible, and you will need to let student finance know so they can pause your payments.

If you do change your university or college, or withdraw altogether, you will need to let your university know as well as letting the student finance know. You can find out more information from UCAS.

If you are unable to attend school, college or university for your learning, here are some tips to help you learn successfully at home.

  1. Try to stick to your normal routine as much as the current situation allows. Get up at your normal time, get dressed, and ensure you eat regular meals. ‘Timetable’ your day: ensure you take regular breaks and walk around, but try to study for 45 minutes to an hour at a time.

  2. Set up study groups with your friends and those on your course. You can also set up social groups and meetings. Apps such as Zoom, Houseparty and Netflixparty are good for group video chats and virtual meetings.

  3. Try some online learning: your school, college or uni may have online lessons or lectures set up, and there are loads of courses available through platforms such as Future Learn where universities and colleges offer free online courses, including preparation for university. Local colleges also have a number of different online, free courses. Check out your local college website for more details.

  4. Exercise: you can continue to exercise according to local guidelines. This could be a cycle, a run or a walk. You can exercise in your home, and there are a number of online groups offering free workouts.

  5. Be aware of your mental wellbeing: it is easy to feel isolated and lonely, so ensure you take time to contact friends or family for a chat, to share experiences and to try to laugh. You may find the Young Minds blog useful.
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