How to prepare for your first term at university
Your first year of university can be one of the most exciting and challenging years of your life. Whether you’re attending uni in a familiar city or embarking on a new adventure, there’s plenty to plan. For many, going away to uni is their first time living away from home.
Worried about what you need to do to make that first year successful? From making new friends and navigating your first real night out to budgeting, meal planning and finding a part-time job, this guide to preparing for uni has everything you need.
Put yourself out there
Meeting new people is one of the hardest parts of uni, especially if you’re far away from your home and friends. The good news? Your university has plenty of ways for you to meet people organically. Hundreds of events are held every week, you just need to find out about them. To find out about the latest events, try:
Joining a team or club
Looking at your uni’s events calendar
Checking out social media
If organised socialising isn’t your style, don’t worry: putting yourself out there could be as simple as keeping your bedroom door open or walking around without headphones. For more tips about making friends at uni, take a look at this guide here.
Create a budget
A staggering 79% of students worry about money according to a recent survey, and the best way to stop that worry in its tracks is to create a budget.
Budgeting is no fun, but it’s necessary if you want to get out of uni alive (and out of your overdraft). Start by tallying up the costs of your living expenses and tuition. Once you’ve established how much you need, you can start looking for ways to make your budget go further. The recommended strategies are as follows:
Using a budgeting tool. Most of these apps allow you to plug in your monthly income along with bills and expenses, and they’ll do the rest. Money Dashboard, Money Lover, and Monzo are great places to start.
Use your student discounts. Every little bit adds up, so make sure that you’re checking on those student discounts!
Take advantage of free events. Who says you need to spend money to have a good time? Your university puts on plenty of free events every week, so be sure to check those out.
Looking for more budgeting tips? Look no further. Here’s a handy guide to budgeting. Take a look here.
Consider a part-time job
According to the employment experts at Reed, a part-time job can work wonders if you need a bit of extra cash: from retail to pub work to temping, internships and freelance roles, there are a variety of positions that allow you to work around your studies. Most universities will also offer on-campus work at the library, student union or a bar.
A part-time job at uni looks fantastic on your CV, and many organisations offer jobs outside of term, so you won’t need to worry about balancing work and studies.
Start a meal plan
Did you know that planning your meals can save time, money, and your waistline?
No need to break out the food scales – we’re just suggesting that you have a hint of an idea of what you’ll be eating throughout the week. Think about what you like to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and don’t forget to throw in a few snacks, too) and make a list. Save the Student recommends that you plan at least one meal per week that you can divide into several portions, such as:
Chili con carne
Roast chicken (whole chickens are cheaper and leftovers can be used in sandwiches, salads or any of the suggestions above)
Make time management a priority
Between courses, new friends, societies and clubs, uni has the potential to fill your schedule like it’s never been filled before. Though it sounds boring, trust us: time management is absolutely essential to make sure that you complete your school work and take advantage of all the opportunities available.
For the experts at The Conversation, time management starts with prioritising: “one of the best ways to manage study workloads is to draw up a semester plan. This can take the form of a timeline or calendar. [Start by] entering in all assignments and exams on [your] semester plan and then work backward to allocate time for researching, draft planning, proofreading and checking references. In this semester plan, you should also account for other commitments including work, socialising, sport and exercise and perhaps even a good’s night sleep.”
Uni life is different, there’s no getting around it. However, no matter how much (or how little) you prepare for the next chapter, you can rest assured that you’ll have an absolutely fantastic time.
The editorial unit