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Heading to university is a daunting period in anyone’s life. For young people in particular, it marks a time when new challenges, as well as opportunities, present themselves. When thinking about how to prepare for university, there are a number of key factors which need to be taken into account. These include:

  1. Setting yourself a budget
  2. Reaching out to people on social media platforms
  3. Researching first term modules and topics
  4. Preparing for life away from your usual environment 
  5. Relaxing and having fun

The years of college or university are generally regarded as one of the best times in someone’s life – but it’s not uncommon to also have anxiety or concerns before your first year. This blog will look to provide any worriers with a clear set of goals ahead of their journey. If you tick all of these boxes before the academic year starts, you’ll find yourself more than prepared when Fresher’s Week kicks off.

1. Set yourself a budget

If you’re heading to university straight from school, there’s a good chance you’ve never had to budget for yourself before. Most parents will provide their children with a fixed “income” in the form of pocket money during their school years. While some do earn for themselves, it’s not uncommon to live off the bank of mum and dad.

Wrapping your head around finances for the first time can be quite daunting. As such, it would be wise to do your own research and find out what you’ll need to save for. While the likes of rent and food are obvious, other things may come as a surprise.

Which? provide prospective uni students with a clear list of what to save your pennies for. Some of their points include:

  • Insurance – Both personal and for your belongings. You’re worth more than you know.
  • Clothes – You’ll be amazed how often your socks and underwear need replacing.
  • Study expenses – Nobody “wants” to buy books, but it’s really a necessity. While schools provide you with text books, the same isn’t true at uni. You’ll need to fund your own learning.

Your bank account isn’t a bottomless pit. Set aside how much you can afford to spend each term, month, week or even day. Budgeting like this will help to make the process much simpler when you’re living away from home in the future – and make sure you have enough cash in the here and now.

2. Reach out to people with social media

Facebook has served to bring the world closer together in recent years – and that’s perhaps no truer than when students are heading off to college for the first time. Dedicated pages will be set up to help people find their flatmates and course mates.

Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to reach out on a public page – but don’t worry. Everyone is in the same boat as you. Nobody will find it odd or think it looks like a “cry for friends”. Most people get in communication with those they’re going to spend the next year living with. It can make things less awkward when you do move in.

If you’re worried about making the right impression, especially when it comes to your flatmates, make sure you:

  • Don’t hound them if they stop replying –They’re busy, not ignoring you. Messaging to ask why they haven’t replied makes you look overbearing and clingy
  • Search for common interests – Find some common ground you can bond over. This doesn’t necessarily have to be something major in your life. Any trivial thing works
  • Be positive – People like those who make them feel upbeat. It’s okay to discuss worries about uni, but don’t barrage them with a long list of your concerns or anxieties
  • Don’t judge them – It’s fine to have an opinion, but wait until you meet them to make real judgments

Facebook is your best bet for finding flatmates and course friends, but that doesn’t mean they won’t also be searching on Twitter or other social media platforms.

3. Research your topics for the first term

Yes, university does also involve actually doing some work. While you don’t need a comprehensive knowledge of every topic you’re going to cover, it does help to have a brief understanding. Imagine the advantage of knowing roughly what the lecturer is talking about in the first couple of sessions.

Most universities will send round a list of reading topics and suggested (as well as mandatory) textbooks. This step is obviously a lot easier if you’re incredibly passionate about the topic you’re studying. If you aren’t, for whatever reason, it’s still important to keep yourself refreshed.

Remember, the gap between finishing school and starting uni is usually at least three to four months. That’s a lot of time to temporarily forget everything you knew about your subject. If you’ve taken a gap year there’s even more chance that will be the case.

4. Prepare for life away from home or your old school

When considering how to prepare for university, there’s perhaps no greater challenge than adapting to life away from your regular environment.  It can be a bit of a culture shock when you first arrive in halls. You’re being thrown into an intimate situation with people you’ve more than likely never met before in your life.

As Uni Baggage point out, you’ll quickly discover things aren’t quite the fairy-tale image you have in your head. There’s a very good chance you’ll get on just fine with your flatmates – but it’s wrong to assume this will definitely be the case. You may just have clashing personalities.

Some other things you might discover include:

  • Some people have different hygiene standards to you (for better or worse)
  • Doing the washing up is more of a chore than you ever realised
  • Toilet paper runs out very quickly
  • There’s a good chance you might make a friend for life

The key message here is: don’t expect everything to be perfect. Prepare for nightmare flatmates, dirt and grime. If you go in expecting the worst, you might be pleasantly surprised when things turn out well. If they really are bad, at least you were ready for it.

5. Relax and enjoy

Ultimately, take the time to relax in the first year. Yes, it’s very important you pass and get decent grades. That said, it doesn’t actually count towards your overall score come the end of your three (or more) years.

Don’t take it too easy, but appreciate what is probably the last year of your life where your responsibilities aren’t that pressing. Keep your studies up, but also don’t be afraid to go out and have a good time when you have the chance. It would be wrong to lock yourself away and become deprived of fun.

Bear all of these tips in mind when thinking about how to prepare for university and you’ll find things are easier than you could have ever imagined. This isn’t life or death – so keep calm and take solace in the knowledge that you’re probably about to have the time of your life.

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