Last minute university things to sort before starting.
There is so much to think about as you get ready to start your degree at university. Its so easy to feel daunted by it all and forget some things.
Here are some ideas of things to consider getting sorted before you head off.
Arranging University Accommodation
Usually you start your accommodation application once you’ve accepted an offer on a course.
Many first-year students tend to stay in halls of residence. These are managed by the university and present an easy way to meet new people. These are usually a large block of flats, housing hundreds of students with individual furnished bedrooms. These are organised around corridors or apartments with shared kitchens. In some cases, bathrooms can also shared.
Privately rented houses or off-campus university accommodation can be good alternatives, these being favoured by the mature/postgraduate students.
If you choose to stay local to home with your university choice, this means you could save on your costs by living at home still.
University housing applications normally come with a few choices like:
Catered or Self-catered
Sociable or Quiet
Single or Mixed-gender halls.
It’s never too early to think about your preference. Many halls are allocated on a first come first serve basis.
Try Contacting your university’s accommodation office to enquire about any accommodation open days and to explore your options.
Sort your finances before university
It’s probably not the most glamourous of tasks to sort before university but it is one of the most important. Getting this sorted before fresher’s week can help you budget for the year ahead.
First thing, set up a student bank account. Many major banks offer these and have benefits such as 0% interest overdraft facility, cash back offers, save the change etc. Each bank is different so ensure to look around for the best deals.
If you’re planning on receiving government-funded student finance, the next step is to get in touch with them to get the ball rolling. It can be a lengthy process do ensure this is a priority.
Once everything is in place you will then know how much funding you’re entitled to, this can then be added to any other income you’re receiving and you can start budgeting. Make a list of all your outgoings, phone bill, transport costs, accommodation fees, amenities (food, utility bills, course materials) as well as luxuries (clothing, socialising, visits back home) this will help you keep track.
Decide what to take to university
Finding out what your accommodation provides will help you avoid making unnecessary purchases.
Some rooms might come furnished, meaning it could include plates, cup etc – others you may need to supply these things. Additionally finding out how much storage space you will have will also help. This will stop you taking too much.
If you’re taking a laptop, tablet or any other gadgets look at getting them insured. Ask your bank if it’s included in your account or your family home insurance could cover them. If not look at a third-party company to cover them.
Looking around at price comparison sites to get the best deal and save as much as possible. This will help with any accidental breaks from tripping in the halls and dropping things or a wild night and a drink gets spilt.
Don’t forget to get the little things like pain killers, first aid kit, a good extension cable, tin opener, toilet roll (after a long journey you’re going to want to use the facilities), slippers/flipflops for the communal areas to name just a few.
Do you currently have a part time job? Ask if there is a branch near the university that you could transfer to so you can continue to earn while you study. If you don’t ask you won’t get.
Check out Travel options
Be sure to check out the train service. They could have offers for students on travel cards. Rail cards can give you 1/3 off train ravel all year round, can be used at peak travel times (min spend applies). You could upgrade to first class for less, giving you the options of power points and a desk if you wish to work while you travel.
Taking a car to university isn’t always necessary but having a licence can be a benefit so don’t rule out taking the test. Parking could be limited and you might have to buy a permit for campus.
Public transport can keep you connected in the bigger cities. Take a look at the local bus companies’ websites for student discounts they could offer.
There is always the option of a pushbike to get places quicker and also helping with your fitness. Some universities and student unions run a bike loan scheme so have a look and see if you can benefit from one from your university. Check out any costs of accessories, a helmet, lock & maintenance equipment to see if it’s something you can add in to your expenses.
Many universities put their reading lists online weeks before their courses begin, they might also send you details via email. Giving you an idea of what to expect from your workload and can give you a head start on reading which could help with future lectures.
There is no need to own every book they mention. Identifying the core texts and purchase them is a start. Also check out 2nd hand options through university groups or Ebay this could help keep costs low. Any other books on the list may be available to borrow from the university library. Don’t forget a lot of research can be done online now as well.
Get to know the area
If you’re moving away to a new area, visit before heading to live at university.
Finding out things like where the campus is to your local big shop (Tesco, Aldi etc) and your local corner shop (for those late-night needs). It’s good to know the location of the nearest hospital/A&E and local doctors just in case you need them. Search for the nearest train station & bus stops.
Take a look around campus and finding things like the library, lecture buildings and your accommodation. Arranging to meet your house mates at the accommodation and check it out together, this will help to get to know them more at the same time.
Learn to cook
It would be wise to ask for help with making your favourite meals whilst your still at home. You will be glad once you learn a few easy recipes as it will enable you to cook for yourself and keep costs lower. There are so many recipes for free online. You can find recipe books fairly cheap in most stores. Better yet ask family members to donate some of their old ones to you. Keep to simple recipes & ingredients so it will be easier on the pocket.
Some supermarkets could offer a student discount through discount cards, take a look at their instore promotions and club cards. Cards like TOTUM have more of an online presence for discounts with retailers.
When you are shopping you will find the own-brand food is often the same quality as the name brands which are more expensive.
Spend time with family & friends
Spend as much time as you can with your friends and family in the summer before heading off to university. You may not know when you will be visiting.
Capturing moments through photos will enable you to print and take them with you to pin on your walls (don’t forget to buy pins). You could be doing so many exciting things when you first arrive at university and meeting new people, these pictures will help with any homesickness you could develop after the first few weeks when the buzz has worn off.
Making your accommodation feel homely with pictures, lamps, fairy lights, comfy blankets will help battle this lull feeling and help you get back out of the slump. Make sure you call them and facetime to keep your mood from dipping so much.
The welcome period at university has many events planned designed to help you settle into university life. You can find out information from the student union on what’s happening at fresher’s week. You may be given a flyer when you arrive with information on what’s happening. While you don’t have any course commitments you can immerse yourself in joining societies and sports teams, they can be great ice breakers. helping build rapport with other students. Organisation and time management is key here.