Preparing For University: What You Need To Know Before You Go!

February 5, 2019 6:18 pm

University, it can be one of the most enjoyable and exciting experiences that you ever get to have, whether you get to go straight out of school or you return to higher education later in life. However, to have the best experience possible you really need to know a few essential things before you start. Luckily, you will find some invaluable advice on this in our post below. Keep reading to find out more.

You need to know that even if you don’t make your grades, you can still get in.

One of the most vital pieces of information that you need to know before you go to uni is that while there is often a big kerfuffle about grades and places, you don’t necessarily have to get the best results to get in.

Of course, it’s good to get excellent results not only because it will give you a better choice when it comes to applying for university places, but also because some careers will take these grades into account when applying. However, even if things don’t go the way you planned, it is usually possible to get a place through clearing to do a degree.

Yes, it may not be at your first choice institution, although it’s always worth contacting them, especially if you have had an interview there because they may be willing to make accommodations for you. However, even if they say no, it is entirely possible that you can get in elsewhere, or even go on a foundation or bridging year. Something that will help you to get up to the level of academic rigour you will need to complete your degree when you start it the year after.

You need to know that your course choices aren’t necessarily set in stone.

Next, many students, old and young spend hours pouring over their course choices for university. However, as many people don’t actually study the subject they are going on to take a BA or BSc directly, or have little experience of what the topic and teaching of those courses will be like at university level, their choices may not always be the most accurate.

Luckily, this is not the major problem that it may seem to appear to be. The reason being that there is some wiggle room available to you in the first half of the first term when you arrive at university. In fact, many institutions now build in the opportunity to attend the introductory models for other subjects so you can make the choice that fits you best. Remember too that as you are not only a student but a paying customer, you will be able to exercise this right to ensure you are happy with your choice and the education you are receiving.

You need to know your loans aren’t free money.

Woohoo! Free money! This is how students back in the day treated their loans, especially the money that was related to paying for their living costs. I should know, I did exactly that! However, one of the greatest pieces of advice I can give people now is that you need to remember that your loans are anything but free.

In fact, they will cost you dearly later on, because student loans are repaid automatically from your salary once you get paid over a certain amount. Oh, and that happens for 10-15 years, at around £200 a month!

Now, that might not seem a lot right now when you just have to pay for your room and find some cash for social events, but trust me when you have a mortgage or rent to pay, a car to run, and a family to feed, £200 is a considerable amount of money. In fact, it can be the difference between doing anything fun and social in a month or not.

To that end, it’s really worth learning about how to budget and keep a reign on your spending before you get to university. Then you can spend the least amount of money possible and so minimise the impact that this debt will have on your life once you have graduated.

You need to know how to make notes.

If your notes look like this, revision will be tough.

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Making notes is a skill that not everyone has. In fact, in many schools and colleges, the teachers are so pressured to teach exactly what is on the curriculum so students can pass their exams, that they never get much of a chance to encourage the actual skill of independent learning itself.

This can be a real problem, because, a great deal of university is about being able to take useful notes, that can then be used both for revision and for writing essays.

Therefore, it is always a smart idea to hone this skill before you go. In fact, there are lots of effective methods of note taking out there including mind mapping, summarising, the Harvard method, and even using index cards for large projects that need a lot of reading. You can also develop your own technique if you so choose.

Just be sure to have one style and stick to it, as this will make your life infinitely easier when it comes to completing assignments, and the dreaded final exams.

You need to know how to cook.

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For many university attendees, it will be there first time cooking for themselves on a regular basis. In fact, this is what often contributes (along with increased beer consumption) to a rapid weight gain!

To that end, it can be beneficial to know how to cook healthy meals before you leave for your studies. Something that a little proactive and saving a few recipes online, or even investing in a cookbook can help you with. After all, the healthier you are, the happier you will be and the easier it will be to balance your studies and the other aspect of your life.

You need to know how to ask for help.

University can be a challenging experience as well as a fun one. After all, there are lots of new social relationship to navigate, new surroundings to get used to, and all that work pressure and deadlines as well. It’s also quite different for some students because they are in a large institution where their struggle may not always be picked up on by the teaching staff.

With that in mind, it’s crucial to learn how to ask for assistance when you need it. This may be the form of requiring advice or explanation on a particular topic, coaching on essay writing, or even support with financial and mental health issues.

In fact, all of this support will be available to you, but the key is to know how to access it, something that it’s worth looking into before you have left for your first term.

You need to know what to pack and what to leave at home.

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Next, when it comes to what you need to know before you head off to university, understanding what to pack is genuinely crucial. This is because, as most people live away from home during term time, they will need to ensure they are correctly equipped and have all the items that they need for their own comfort as well.

The key here is to learn to pack in an efficient way and only take what you will absolutely need. In fact, if you can create a list of household items like laundry baskets, and washing powder you can then stock up on these things when you get there. Something that can save a lot to room in your vehicle and allow you to fit more of the crucial stuff in such as clothes, tech and chargers, and mementoes from home.

You need to know how to keep your hobbies up.

Many people think that their downtime should only be spent socialising when they are at uni, and while there will be plenty of opportunity for a few drinks and some socialising it also good for your mental health to practice to maintain your other hobbies as well. Whether this is exercising, playing sports, or even a musical instrument.

Of course, this can be especially difficult if you need particular equipment for your hobby, something that can be hard to transport from home to your uni accommodation on a regular basis. After all, if you are a pianist, you can fit a baby grand or even an upright in your suitcase or even in a car for the journey to university!

However, if you get creative, you can usually find a way to solve this problem. For instance, a pianist can use instruments on site at their institution. Alternatively, they may choose to visit one of the many digital piano dealers to buy a more portable instrument. The reason being that such pianos are much smaller and take up a lot less room, and so can be moved with you from term to term. Something that can ensure you still get to practice your hobby, even when you do live away from home during university.  

You need to know that despite the hardships, university can be some of the best time of your life.

While there will be numerous struggles and challenges along the way, attending university is an experience that will not only boost your CV, but also enrich your life.

Of course, just like any experience, what you put in is what you will reap, so while being mindful of work-life balance also try to seize as many opportunities as possible. Then you can make your time at uni, the best years of your life!

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