Preparing to start university is simultaneously an incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking time. As a student heading towards my final year in Exeter, I want to give you my five tried and tested top tips for preparing for starting university.
- The Practicals: Finance and Accommodation
Let’s get the boring (but highly important) aspects of finance and accommodation covered first, as having this sorted will help you have a stress-free transition to university life. Make sure you have applied for your accommodation and student finance before the respective deadlines.
Look into opening a student bank account – shop around between options as most student bank accounts come with a variety of perks that vary between providers. A 16-25-year-old railcard will also come in handy if you will be travelling to and from university by train during the year. Financially, it’s also handy to learn how to budget and manage your own money. Planning on a weekly basis can be a great way to keep on top of your spending without getting overwhelmed.
- Get connected on social media
Following the university on social media is a great way to keep up to date and familiarise yourself with your campus. You can also find pages and group chats set up for incoming students, which can be a great way to find students studying your subject or heading to the same accommodation as you.
Most societies and sports clubs will also have social media presences, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, so have a look into the ones you might be interested in to see what they will be getting up to at the start of the year. Remember to keep an open mind too as there will be plenty more societies and clubs that you come across once you arrive. It can be particularly useful to join the society for your academic subject so you can meet other students in a social setting or get advice from older years.
- Read around your subject
It’s also a good idea to dedicate some time to preparing for your studies before you arrive in Exeter. Find out if there are reading lists that your department recommend familiarising yourself with before your course starts. Don’t panic about covering everything but remember that, even if it feels like a chore over your summer, it will be so helpful to get ahead on reading in the long run as it will free up time for socialising and making friends in your first few weeks.
If your subject doesn’t have prescribed reading lists, read around your subject more generally! Hopefully you chose your subject because you find it interesting so find examples of your subject in action in the wider world. Doing some more ‘academic’ reading will really help ease you back into the student frame of mind after a long pause to studies.
Don’t panic about buying every single book possible – remember that the library will be available to you on campus, as well as Blackwell’s which sells textbooks second-hand at discounted prices.
- Learn to cook
Starting at university is likely your first time living away from home. With this newfound freedom and independence also comes the challenge of having to feed yourself every day (if you are in self-catered accommodation). Before you arrive at uni, try to have a few basic meals under your belt. Beans on toast is great but gets boring quickly. Meals that can be bulk made and frozen, such as chilli or Bolognese, are ideal. While you are still at home, have a practice at meal planning for a week, which will also help you practice budgeting.
It’s also worth knowing that you don’t need to bring every piece of kitchen equipment under the sun. Start with the basics and, once you’ve arrived and met your flatmates, figure out what extra equipment might be useful to buy as a house. No house needs 8 cheese graters…
- Get excited!
The run up to starting university can be a nerve-wracking time as there are so many unknowns involved. Above all, embrace the uncertainty and focus on how exciting it is to have several years of new opportunities ahead of you. It is so important to remember that everyone around you is in the same boat and (even if they don’t admit it) everyone experiences nerves when they start at university. Before you know it, you’ll have settled into university life and forgotten all about the initial nerves. If you take anything from this blog, please let it be a reminder to not panic!
I hope this has helped give you an idea about how to prepare for starting university.
Good luck and (hopefully) see you in September!