What to know before starting university

15 September, 2023Mutahara Gofur

University is a new and exciting time in your life, but if it’s your first time venturing into higher education, you may feel unsure about how to prepare. To help you start off on the right foot, we’ve put together some tips on getting organised before you begin your studies.

Sorting out your finances for university

Before starting university, one thing you need to prioritise is sorting your finances out. Make sure you have applied for student finance in plenty of time, as well as any other financial awards that may be available to you.

The size of your student loan will depend on several factors – whether you are a first-time learner, where you’ll be living, and, if you are over 25, your parents’ income may also be a factor. But once your loan has been approved, you will be informed how much you will receive and given a payment schedule – this will allow you to budget for living costs. Of course, you can also factor in any additional savings or income you may have.

Once you’ve taken care of your student finance application, you’ll need to make sure you have a bank account set up to receive your loan and any grant payments. Many banks will offer accounts exclusively for students, offering lower interest rates or even free overdraft facilities. These accounts may also offer additional benefits like discounts on dining out, subscriptions to services, and cashback.

Some banks even offer a free 16-25 railcard, which could come in handy if you are going to be studying away from home and plan on travelling back during breaks. Whatever bank you sign up with, do your research beforehand. Money Supermarket have a comparison site for student banking so you can figure out what is best for you.

Once you’ve got your student email address, you can also register with student discount sites like UNiDAYS or Student Beans, which allow you to access student discounts at participating retailers.

Getting organised for university

There are a lot of things to do before starting university and it can feel a little overwhelming. However, if you get organised in advance, you’ll find things much easier to manage.

First thing’s first, make sure you know how to enrol onto your degree – when the deadline is, where you need to go and what documents you may need. If applicable, it’s also a good time to start thinking about module choice.

A lot of universities will publish module reading lists weeks in advance. Check your student email and virtual learning environment for any information available, so you can start any background reading. This can help you to feel more confident when your course begins.

Some new students might be alarmed when they see their course reading lists – academic textbooks can be pricey after all. But you won’t need to buy everything on the list. Instead, you might want to identify the core texts and purchase those. Alternatively, your university library may have the books you need – and this is something you should definitely check before making any purchases. Finally, many universities will offer substantial online resources, so it’s also worth checking which of the texts you need are available online.

Take care of your health

And finally, the most important consideration – taking care of your health. If you’re studying on campus and have to relocate, remember to register with a new GP at the earliest possible opportunity. It’s easy to put it off, but you don’t want to be going through the process if you do actually get ill. If you’re someone who requires regular prescriptions, you’ll also want to make sure you can access these from university, if needs be.

Starting university is a big change and it’s normal to be apprehensive. As well as looking after your physical health, your mental health is also important. If transitioning to higher education is worrying you, you can reach out to your university for support. Most universities will have a wellbeing team in place.

For example, here at LIBF we have a:

  • qualified counsellor available for students
  • an assistance helpline available for staff and students.

Starting university might seem daunting, regardless of whether you’re studying on campus or online. But by keeping an open mind and being organised, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running and really get the most out of your degree from day one.  

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