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Starting university in the UK this September? Read our handy to do list before term begins!

Last Updated: 22 Aug, 2019

Many students will begin university in the UK this autumn. Here at UKSC, we want to share our top tips for a successful start to the new academic year.

Another A Level results day has come and gone, which means hundreds of thousands of students in the UK and across the world will now begin preparations for university life this autumn. This is an exciting and daunting time for any student and here at UK Study Centre we have helped so many who have gone on to some of the very best universities around the world. For those coming to the UK, we’d like to share some of our top tips and things to do before starting your first term.

Get to know your course

By now you should already know which course you are going to take at university. Your A Level results will have determined whether or not you have secured the place you wanted.  If you have entered university clearing, don’t panic! There are so many great universities and courses out there that you may have not initially considered but could end up being the very best thing that happens to you.

Once your place and course is confirmed, it’s time to delve further into the nitty gritty of what exactly you’re going to be doing. Do plenty of research on your university’s website, connect with current students via social media where you can and gauge a better understanding of how your term time will be spent.

You won’t likely receive your timetable/schedule until you start the first term and receive an induction, but it’s always a good idea to get ahead of the game! Perhaps there are extracurricular clubs and societies you’ll want to get involved in, perhaps there are events or social gatherings taking place right away? Whatever is going on, you should always try and get stuck in to make the most of what’s on offer.

Purchase the right materials

University is not like school, teachers/lecturers won’t be holding your hand throughout the course by providing all the exact materials you’re going to need. Your university will usually be in contact with you before the first term regarding the necessary equipment and reading lists you’re going to be using. But it’s your responsibility to buy everything and make sure you show up to class with the correct materials.

Always buy the correct and most up-to-date editions of textbooks as your lecturer will often refer to page numbers in class. Make sure you have a reliable and quality laptop/computer with plenty of storage as you will be saving essays and coursework often. It’s always a good idea to purchase a few USB sticks too as some professors ask you to submit essays that way.

If you have a reading list, why not start it before term begins! That way you will have an edge over other students and will already be able to contribute positively to classes. Start the new term the way you intend to go forward — organised and informed.

Connect with other students

If you’re leaving home and travelling a long way to a new place, it’s always worth connecting with some familiar faces online beforehand. Facebook is a great way to identify other students who will be starting the same course as you and it’s a great forum to connect/chat about the upcoming term.

You can share your concerns and excitement with other like-minded individuals and quite often, someone will have set up a Facebook page dedicated to new 1st year students of a particular university. But if there isn’t one, why not set it up yourself? Heading to university is all about independence and initiative so take some responsibility right away and help your fellow new students connect!

Get your finances in order

If you are funding your studies through student finance, you should make sure everything is in place before commencing your course. In our experience, it can be a huge distraction in your first term if you’re panicking about how your studies are being funded.

When applying for student finance online, you will need assistance from your parents as they must enter their household income to determine what you can receive. More details about how student finance works can be seen here.

Once you have received your UCAS confirmation letter, you should really set up a student bank account here in the UK. The best way to decide which bank to go with is to identify whether there’s a branch close to your new campus and to make sure you get some perks! Many banks offer great deals for students that include interest free overdrafts and discounts on railcards/travel. If you already have a UK bank account, talk to them about upgrading to a student account ASAP.

Arrange your student accommodation 

By now, you should have already secured some accommodation for the first academic year. If not, head to your university’s website right away and follow their instructions to sign up for student halls. If this isn’t for you, or if you’ve left it too late, try finding some private accommodation.

Again, Facebook is a great way to find other students who are looking for housemates. Make sure your prospective new home is close to your campus and in a safe neighbourhood. If you’re worried about what your new housemates will be like, why not meet up with them first? Get to know the people you’ll be sharing a home with as your first term at university can often be quite lonely and it’s always nice to rely on your housemates for company and socialising.

Get to know the local area

Most students will have already visited their campus ahead of their first year, but you won’t be spending all your time at university only. Perhaps your new university is in a big city that you’ve not experienced yet, so perhaps arrange a trip for a few days there with your parents before terms begins to explore the area and the local amenities.

Find out where your local supermarket, bank, post office and launderette is (if you don’t have one on campus). Identify local bars and restaurants you like and get to know the local bus/train routes. No one likes to be late to class, so purchase a railcard or bus pass right away and research how you’re going to travel efficiently. Find out more about railcards here.

Insure your belongings

If you’re living away from home at a new address, your valuables and personal belongings may not be covered by your parent’s insurance. Whilst it’s very rare that something gets stolen or damaged, you can never be too careful. Student halls won’t often take responsibility for any theft that takes place, and no one likes an accusatory housemate.

So much of your work will be created using your laptop, so it’s essential that you cover this in case it becomes lost, stolen or damaged. There are great deals out there for student contents insurance, find out more here.

Keep in touch with family and friends

And finally, starting a new way of life with new friends and experiences is always exciting for a student but can be a very sad time for your parents and family back home. For many, this is the first time living away from home and your parents will be worried for your welfare. Stay in touch regularly and share your stories with them, they’ll want to hear from you, and they don’t want to be forgotten.

Above all, enjoy this time and all that it has to offer. Studying at university is a huge privilege and not one that everybody gets to experience. Embrace new opportunities, make new friends and above all, learn!

UK Study Centre has helped many students realise their academic ambitions and can advise on university choices both in the UK and overseas. Get in touch here to find out more.

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