As the new academic year draws nearer and nearer, both new and returning students are beginning to prepare for the return to university. Looking towards September, there are many things students can do to make sure that they’re ready to return. Whether you’re coming to university for the first time, or coming back from a long summer at home, the new academic year can be overwhelming. At accommodation for students, we’ve compiled some helpful tips and tricks to help students settle back into university life.
Get familiar with the material:
Whether you’ve been prescribed an introductory reading list, or have simply been given a couple of recommendations, it’s useful to get on top of this as early as possible. Starting your reading will help keep the pressure off when the academic year begins, and make sure you’re already familiar with the concepts you will be learning. It is also useful to look into the specifics of your university course. Whether your units are all mandatory or whether you’ve got a lot of choice, know what you’ll be studying. Once term begins, staying on top of your work is one of the most important things; if you already know what you’ll be studying and you’ve done the reading, then academic life is going to be a lot easier for you.
Get to know your personal tutor :
Reaching out and contacting your academic advisor or personal tutor online can be a really helpful way to build your network at university. Your personal tutor will be your first point of contact once the academic year begins so get to know them sooner rather than later. Contacting them early in the year, may also be useful if you have a query once term begins.
Learn how to cook :
Whether you’re living away from home for the first time, or whether you’ve spent the year in catered halls and are moving into a house, being able to cook will help you avoid buying expensive ready meals or takeaways. Begin to think about cooking on a budget and buying cheaper food options to help your money go further. Perhaps buy a student cookbook to learn how to eat well on a budget. Think about batch cooking; you cook once and eat twice – a great tip for a timesaver or a lazy chef.
Think about your budget :
Living away from home, you’ll be living off your student loan (or grant), and it may be useful to plan how far this money will go before you leave. Create a budgeting plan, know how much you can spend on food each week, how much for nights out and how much (if any) will be left over? Think about whether you have any emergency funds you can draw on if you’re really in need of an extra boost. No matter how much you get, you get a lump sum all at once, and for the novice, this can seem like a lot; the veteran knows that it’s not. Planning your budget in advance can help you conceptualise how far your money will go.
Make sure you open up a student bank account, this can be an easy way to get an overdraft that is often interest free. Many banks offer students different incentives, such as a free railcard or an Amazon voucher. However, don’t be too swayed by the freebees, make sure you go to a bank that you trust and that has good rates.
Engage over social media :
Before university begins, many universities will often set up either official or unofficial Facebook groups. This is a great way to meet your flatmates or course mates before you’ve even began. Whether you’re a new or returning student it’s always useful to keep expanding your network and making connections and social media is becoming more and more useful for this. Whether you want to join societies or just connect with some likeminded people social media is the way to go, especially given the current restrictions and social distancing rules.
Make a checklist :
You’ve got the new bedding, and all your pots and pans, but it’s easy to forget some of the finer things, such as an extension lead or a hot water bottle. Make yourself a list in advance of all the things you use on a daily basis, and some of the things you use less often but absolutely need. Planning in advance will help avoid the last minute back to university panic and help you to keep your packing under control.
Do a bulk buy :
If you’re getting dropped off at university by your parent, or have a flatmate with a car, it’s a great idea to go and do a bulk buy while your loan has just come in and you’ve got the money. Bulk buying is cheaper in the long run and takes the pressure off your weekly shop. If you buy all your dry goods in advance then you’ll only have to buy fresh food when you go to the shop, and of course your load will be lighter when you’re carrying your shopping home each week.
Look ahead :
Those students entering third year will be looking ahead to their graduate prospects, keeping your CV updated can help keep the pressure off when you’re trying to juggle university work and job applications. This may also be a useful time to start looking at whether you can begin to gain some work experience in your chosen industry, whether you look for paid work or look for a voluntary opportunity. Starting early can reduce your stress later in the academic year, of course most students don’t yet know which industry they want to go onto (it’s okay that’s normal), but keeping your CV updated can help you be prepared for when an opportunity does come up.
Spend time with your friends and family :
Whether you’re a home bird that’s flying the nest for the first time, or whether you’re itching to get back, the bottom line is that you’re probably going to be away from your loved ones for the majority of the next academic year. So, take the time to say goodbye and spend some quality moments before you go back.
Get to know the area :
Whether you take a quick trip up to visit the city you’ll be in before term or turn to google to help you, it’s a good idea to research about the city that you’ll be living in. You might want to check out what the restaurants are like, how big the student community is, or check out where you can go on day trips. If you’re nervous about going to a new city, or wanting to get a better understanding of the city that you’ve been away from all summer, doing your research can help you feel prepared for the move away and the start of term.
Overall, there’s no rule book for preparing for university, everyone’s different and finds comfort in different things but these are just some ways that can help you feel ready for the new academic year.