How to: Prepare for your first year at uni

Not feeling ready for uni? We can help with that…

Starting university as a fresher is a new and scary experience, but being prepared for what’s to come is the key to making your first year run as smoothly as possible. From gathering the right supplies, to learning how to make the most of your money, it’s all about knowing what to expect.

To make sure you’re ready to become a fresher, here’s how to prepare for your first year of uni:


Choose your accommodation wisely

Deciding where you want to live for the next year of your life can be a tough call to make – especially if it’s your first time away from home.

That’s why it’s extra important to do your research beforehand.

You’ll usually have a range of options when it comes to halls of residence – from the more expensive accommodation that could come with an ensuite and meals included in the rent, to halls that will cost you less, but may involve sharing a bathroom or a longer commute to lectures.

Using your accommodation pack to assess each one thoroughly is vital to ensuring you make the right choice – based on your needs and available budget.

And remember: get your application in ASAP. The best choices are likely to go quickly…


Gather (only) the essentials

It can be tempting to buy every home appliance there is before you venture into your new life of ‘adulting’, but think about it – will you really need it all?

Most shared accommodation will have the basics included (e.g. toaster, kettle, microwave, and you know, furniture), so before you stock up, find out what’s already going to be there.

Because not only could you end up with two of everything (or more if your flatmates make the same mistake), you could also be adding unnecessary additions to your overloaded boxes that you can barely fit in the car.

If you’re struggling to figure out what’s really essential, check your accommodation pack and ask at university open days (and on their social media pages) for more information. Additionally, your university will usually provide a ‘what to take to university checklist’.

If not, you can always use this one.


Make sure your finances are organised

Two words. Student. Finance.

Setting this income up is vital to ensuring you actually have the funds to go to uni, and not completing your application on time could result in a very minimalist freshers week (see also: poor) – so make sure you’re prepared to get it sorted and sent off ASAP.

But before you apply for student finance, you’ll need a bank account that allows you to make the most of your money.

Even if you already have one, it’s always a good idea to look into student specific accounts to find a more suitable plan. After all, introductory deals with generous overdrafts are offered to students by a range of high street banks, and are designed to give you financial stability throughout university.

N.B. getting all of the student discount cards (as well as a 16-25 railcard) is also a good idea…


Learn to budget

Living away from home often comes at a cost – and even with the various student discounts and cheap uni nights, it can still add up.

Although your first year will probably involve living in halls (where utility bills and internet are included in the rent), if you choose to live off campus, these will be something you’ll need to factor into your budget.

But halls aren’t totally exempt from bills. If you’re planning on watching live TV, you’ll still need to pay for a TV license (although avid Netflix and catch-up programme watchers need not apply).

And no matter where you live, you’ll also need to consider the cost of food, toiletries, course materials, and undoubtedly – nights out*, before using your loan for spontaneous spending sprees – making budgeting even more important.


Get connected

Social media is a great way to make sure you’re in the loop about your chosen university.

And once you’ve found your uni’s official pages, you’ll be able to find out everything you need to know about freshers week, buy tickets for events, and get advice on essential uni prep.

And, as many universities assign current students as ‘flat reps’ in each set of halls, they’ll usually be present on the groups to answer any questions you might have before you move in.

Not only will joining social media groups help you to stay informed, it’ll also give you the opportunity to connect with other freshers. That way, when you move into your flat and start your course, you’ll have already got to know the people you’ll be living/studying with.


Consider a part-time job

If you think you’ll struggle to make ends meet even with a strict budget, it might be worth finding seasonal or part-time work.

Not only will it help you with your finances, the work experience and skills you gain will be a beneficial addition to your CV – especially if it’s related to your course.

From retail and pub work to tempinginternships, 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 (e.g. at the library, student union, or bar).

And if the idea of working and studying at the same time sounds like too much, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a job. Many organisations will allow you to only work outside of term-time, meaning your uni work won’t be compromised.

Part-time CV template

CV template for temp work


*See also: fancy dress outfits, glowsticks, alcohol, various packs of cards.  


Still searching for your perfect position? View all available part-time jobs now


Find a job