5 min read

July 10, 2024

Preparing to start University

You’ve worked hard over the last two years, picked your subjects with your future career and aspirations in mind and now the time has finally come to start university! University is about so much more than just your course. It’s about your first step to independence and learning valuable life skills that will take you into adulthood. For some it’s the first time away from home and outside of a school environment and can be quite overwhelming. We’ve complied advice from our education experts and current university students to help you along the way...

What to pack?

Firstly, clothes. You probably won’t have that much wardrobe space in your halls, so as tempting as it can be, don’t take too many with you. Think about what you really wear and have options for different seasons. You’ll need everyday wear, but also think about things like fancy dress and formal wear if you’re at a university which hosts those kind of events. Also don’t forget to bring hangers!

In terms of toiletries, you’ll need all the usuals, such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc. and a good tip is to have a wash bag that you can use to carry it all to the bathroom if you’re sharing with your housemates. Another top tip is to have a basic first aid kit for emergencies with things like plasters and pain killers.

It can be very daunting moving away from home for the first time, so we also suggest packing some things to make your room more homely. Rugs, cushions, plants, posters and photos can add a nice homely touch to your room. And don’t forget useful items such as lamps, bedding, laundry basket and adapters and extension leads.

Whether you opt for catered or self-catered, you will need some kitchenessentials like mugs, plates and cutlery. You might also need a kettle, potsand pans.


It’s really important that you register with a doctor once you arrive. Don’twait until you get sick to try and work that out.

But it’s not just physical health you need to consider when starting university. A study by Unite Students found that parents thought domestic skills such as cooking, washing their clothes and budgeting would be the most difficult challenges but the students questioned were far more worried about getting advice on mental health, relationships, alcohol and drugs, and where to get practical help on these issues. Make sure you also know where you can access support through student services should you have any concerns around issues like this.

Making friends

A big part of starting university is building a new social circle. You might know a few people from home and school, but you’ll also be meeting lots of new people along the way. University brings together people from all over the world and many different backgrounds and is a great chance to expand your social circle, so be open to meeting new people.

Halls, societies, sports teams and trips are all great places to start if you’re looking for ways to make new friends. Remember you get out what you put in, so be open to saying yes to new opportunities.

And remember finding your people can take time, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find friends for life in the first few weeks!


You may need to open a bank account for the first time, especially if you’re coming over to the UK from abroad. Most banks will offer special student accounts so shop around for the best deal.

Once you’ve got that sorted, you’ll need to have a look at your budget.For many students this will be the first time they’re taking responsibility for their finances and it can be overwhelming and take time to work out. Think about the money you will have coming in for example from your student loan, an allowance from your parents and any part-time jobs. Then work out what your outgoings will be. Things like accommodation, travel, books and food. Once you’ve got an idea of that you can work out how much you’ll have left for fun!

There are plenty of apps that can help you manage your budget, such asSquirrel, Wally and Chip.

Study Skills

For many students, this will be the first time they’ve had so muchindependence when it comes to learning and studying.

Make sure you’re clear on the contact time you have, the different types of classes, such a lectures and seminars, and plan your time, factoring in the time you need to set aside for reading.

Remember, university study is about becoming a critical and analytical thinker who questions the information provided to them. You’ll need to be able to work independently and reflect on specific topics. There might not always be a right answer, so you’ll need to be creative with the information you’re given – the recommended reading is a great place to start.

Managing Stress

There is so much pressure around the university experience being the ‘best years of your life’ but in reality it can be a bit of a roller-coaster ride. There are a lot of ‘firsts’ happening at once and it can be extremely overwhelming. Make sure you have people to talk to that you can be really honest with and keep in touch with your family and friends from home.

Make sure you’re managing your time to you get a balance between studying and socialising – both are equally important to your experience – and take some downtime when you need to.

If you’re really struggling, it’s important to remember that university isn’t always for everyone. Talk things through with your parents and tutors and make a decision based on what’s right for you.

We hope our guide helps you on your way to University. Remember to enjoy this process, and try not to stress too much - this is an exciting new chapter for you!

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