Before you go to university
Here are a couple of things you'll need to do before you head off.
So you're off to uni – nice job, Fresher!
For most people, the new-found level of independence that university brings will be a whole new thing. There's plenty to think about before you set off – so we've gathered some important info for you to read through.
How do I prepare for moving into uni?
- First of all, make sure you have everything you'll need for uni – both for your halls and for your course. Check out our sister site The Student Room for the ultimate 'what to take to uni' list.
- Check information from your uni about what you can and can't take to your accommodation (eg mini-fridges, kettles, etc).
- Get a few basic life skills sorted – learn how to do laundry and master a handful of easy meals. Here are eight student cooking and food mistakes to avoid.
- If you're worried about your stuff *ahem* 'accidentally' ending up in someone else's room, mark your valuables with UV security pens so you can identify what's yours if it goes walkabouts.
- Find other students in your flat or university accommodation by creating a thread in your specific university sub forum on The Student Room.
- Connect with your university on social media. If you're not already, follow your university's official Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts. Doing so can make you feel a part of the community before arriving – a top tip if you're feeling nervous about it all. It's also a handy way to get important updates and news ahead of Freshers Week, when so much is happening.
- Have a look at this guide to surviving your first year of uni on our sister site The Student Room.
Sort out your health and medical supplies
- Before you leave home, check your immunisation records, especially for measles, mumps and meningitis. See your doctor at home to get any boosters or missing inoculations.
- Get your teeth checked and any work done before you arrive. The start of term isn't the best time to get a wisdom tooth removed...
- Likewise, if you're planning to play lots of sport, get a proper individual mouth-guard from your dentist. This takes time to get made, so it's best to plan ahead.
- Talk to your home doctor about contraception, especially if you're going to need repeat prescriptions for the pill or would like an IUD fitting.
Make sure you're financially prepared for these common start-of-term expenses
- Moving van – renting a moving van can be really expensive, and quotes will vary depending on how much you’re taking and the distance you’re travelling. Try to work out as early as possible whether you’ll be able to fit everything you’re taking in your/your parents’ car. If you do need to rent a van, try to book this as early as possible.
- Laptop – while most universities do have computer rooms and libraries, booking these can be inconvenient and it's much easier to take your own. If your current laptop has seen better days, buy a new one rather than wait for the dreaded blue screen of death to strike just before a deadline. Most good laptops have a lifespan of around three years, so a new one now should last you the duration of your undergraduate course.
- Extra furniture and utensils – when choosing your accommodation, read carefully what facilities and utensils will be provided. This way you can take your time researching the cheapest options for anything extra need to buy. You'll also avoid wasting cash on things you don't need.
- Freshers Week – your student loan will go in at some point during Freshers Week. Until then you’ll need some extra cash for all the activities taking place – you don’t want to be sat in a bank trying to arrange an overdraft when you could be out having fun. Put some extra money aside for this first week until you settle down and know where the cheaper alternatives are in town.
Managing your finances once you're at university
- Don't wait until you get to university to open a bank account, just pop into your local branch after getting your confirmed place and going off to uni. This stops any delays and ensures you'll get your student loan into your account as quickly as possible when you start your course. Remember to tell the loan company about your new account details by changing your details online.
- Shop around for your bank account and remember to locate the nearest branch to your uni. This article on our sister site The Student Room has advice for choosing the best bank account and covers all the deals available for 2021.
- Work out your budget – before you start splashing the cash on tickets for Freshers Week events and getting into bad habits, draw up a budget for your first term at university (or even better, for your first year). It doesn't have to be exact, but try and calculate how much you have to spend on food, entertainment and other things per week once you've deducted rent, travel, course costs and other essential expenses.
- Chat to other students about managing finances on The Student Room forums here.
- You'll most like receive information about reading lists in your welcome pack once your uni place is confirmed after results day.
- Remember, even if it's on the reading list, you don't necessarily need to buy it. Most books you will only read once. So, borrow them from your (home) local library to read over the summer and use your uni library once you get there.With this in mind, don't ask relatives for bookshop gift cards as 'going to uni' pressies – chances are, you'll never use them.
- Good places for discount or second hand books are Amazon, eBay, Abebooks, Alibris, Oxfam Online. Make sure you get the right edition.
How to make the most of Freshers Week
- Most unis publish Freshers Week schedules on their websites or on the Students' Union website a few weeks before – check this out ahead of time so you can plan what you'd like to go to.
- There will be all sorts of activities for your course and department, plus introductory sessions for the library and IT, so try and find out when these are before you arrive so you can schedule them into your week.
- You'll likely have heard all about Freshers Fair – the big expo when clubs and societies get you to sign-up to things in exchange for a lot of freebies. It's definitely worth going to this, so you can see which activities interest you and ask any questions – plus you'll get 1000s of pens that will last you through the year.
- As for social activities, you'll be spoilt for choice! There will be everything from big end-of-week parties and club sessions to themed walks, cafe-crawls, bowling and cinema nights on offer. These are designed to help you get to know other students before classes start, but don't feel obliged to attend them all – pick two or three you're interested in so you don't burn yourself out.
- Worried about navigating Freshers Week? Here are some tips from the community on our sister site The Student Room to help put your mind at ease.