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10 things every fresher should know

Your freshers' term is all about finding your feet. Let's get your student life off to a flying start…

Here's some advice to help get you ready before you go to university, plus seven differences between college and uni to look out for.

1. Know your bank balance

Learning how to budget wisely is a common concern for uni students. Your student loan seems infinite at first, making it easy to splurge – especially during freshers' week.

Plan your budget in advance, working out how much money you’ll need to put aside for things like course materials, food, bills and transport – and see what that leaves you each week for everything else.

2. You can create your own society

If you don't find any of the available societies appealing then you can start your own. Running your own society is a rewarding thing to do – you can make new friends and share your interests with a wider audience. 

Establishing your own society only takes a few forms detailing your idea and some supporting signatures from people interested in joining – you can ask around to see if anyone else wants to get involved.

3. It’s perfectly normal to feel homesick

Moving away from family and friends is a shock and it’s normal to feel homesick every now and again. 

The best way to deal with homesickness is to find a balance. Talk to friends and family regularly, but don’t overdo it. Meanwhile, familiarise yourself with the campus and your accommodation – it will soon feel like home. 

4. Don't sleep through lectures

Avoid getting into bad habits with your course – they’re difficult to get out of. Being consistent at the start will set you up nicely for the rest of the year.

You might fall behind if you miss any lectures, seminars or practical sessions early on – these sessions introduce you to key concepts for your modules and are also a chance to get advice on your assignments and speak directly to subject experts.

5. It's never too early to think ahead

It’s fine to go with the flow in your first year while also having your future in mind. Find out where the uni careers office is  you can chat to advisers about potential work experience, internships and other opportunities.

Getting involved in projects related to your interests will help you meet like-minded people as well as improving your skills and experience – the student newspaper is a popular option.

You might also want to get a part-time student job, for extra spending money as well as the experience.

6. Always ask if there's a student discount

Make the most of student discounts and freebies. Your student card could get you at least 10% off at many retail stores – and an NUS extra card gets additional discounts. It's worth asking if there's a student discount at independent shops as well.

Even if joining a uni club doesn't float your boat, you should still take advantage of all the freebies at your freshers' fair – you can stock up on all sorts! 

If you’re feeling brave, sign up for a free (or much cheaper than usual) haircut with a trainee at a salon – it could be a risk, but you’ll save a few quid.

7. Remember to enrol

This might sound strange, but you need to enrol on your course – and it's easy to forget during a busy Freshers Week. 

If you don’t register you'll struggle to use the uni’s facilities – you need your student card to print and access the library. You'll also need to enrol to receive your funding from student finance.

8. You may be entitled to a bursary

It's worth checking with your university if you're eligible for extra funding.

9. Find a place to live next year

If you're in university accommodation, you'll need to start planning second year housing earlier than you might think – usually after your first term. This doesn't give you much time!

Most universities and students' unions have lists of recommended letting agents and landlords so you can check out what's on offer. Think about location  ideally you'll want to be close to campus and with shops nearby to help you cut travel costs and save time.

10. Enjoy it  second and third years will be tough!

Your first year at university is as much about settling in and getting into the swing of living independently as it is about your degree. The academic side of your university experience will quickly ramp up in your second and third years.

Your first year grades don't count towards your overall degree mark, so you have enough time get to grips with the style of learning at university.

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