Hi, Dom here. I’m a recent university graduate and my sister Geri graduated a couple of years ago. Since it’s that time of year when another wave of pupils prepare to go to university, we wanted to share some practical advice and guidance on how to best ensure that your university career is successful.
First of all, congratulations! You’ve passed your exams and gained a place at university, this is no mean feat. Many people don’t make it into Higher Education; you have, so take a moment to commend yourself on succeeding already! So much pressure is now heaped on students to get to university that many of us take for granted just what an achievement this is.
You may be feeling a mixture of emotions as you get closer to the start of your university career. You may be excited, nervous, scared, upset or you may feel none of these things at all. There is no right way to feel. We each have our own ways of approaching major changes in our lives; but it is important that we find ways to successfully manage these changes.
We know that academic success depends as much on how well someone adapts to university life as it does on academic ability. Although we can’t possibly tell you everything that you are going to experience at university, we can share our top tips which will help you on your way.
Academic preparation - Read through the information about your course that your Faculty has sent you; that way you’ll understand how the course is structured and assessed. It is better to know in advance how things work than to be surprised in week 4. Not everything that you need to know for your assignments will be taught in your lectures or seminars; you will be expected to do your own reading and research.
Make friends - Most universities have a community Facebook page where you can chat with other new students or get advice from current students. Knowing just one or two people, even a little, can help make the university seem like a less strange place. Also most universities hold “icebreaker events” of a “Freshers Week” before term begins. At these events you can meet and get to know other students on a purely social level. It’s great, trust us!
Prepare your finances - Check that you have taken advantage of all possible sources of income. Take out your maximum student loans, check what grants and bursaries are available to you, sign on with the bank which offers the best long-term benefits and find a part-time job. Also once you’re at university draw up a weekly budget and stick to it – take time to review it regularly. You will feel much more comfortable with your finances if you're on top of the situation.
Learn to cook - Having a good diet is really important for your overall wellbeing and academic performance. Although the occasional pizza or kebab won't be the end of the world you should try eat healthily most of the time. If you haven’t cooked much before you should practice at home before coming to university. There are many quick and easy recipes online, try looking here: http://www.studentrecipes.com
Keep in touch - It is easy in the excitement of the first few weeks to lose contact with your family and friends but if you encounter difficulties later in the year you may still need their support. Perhaps agree before you leave home how often you will speak to family and friends by phone, email or via Facebook etc. then try to stick to this during term.
If you are the friend or family member reading this, check out our selection of Good Luck cards to send your loved one on their way.