Starting university can be stressful. New environments, new faces and living in a new city (often away from family) can be difficult to deal with.
To get you prepared, we have put together some useful tips to help you survive the first year at university!
Get your accommodation sorted
Before you embark on your university journey, make sure that you sign up in good time for the right accommodation – most commonly, this halls of residence, but some freshers choose to spend their first year in a flat or a shared house.
Start off by deciding what type of housing will suit your living needs and budget. You might be tempted to live on your own as many estate agents offer “affordable student placements”, but you should bear in mind that there are additional charges you need to consider on the top of the monthly rent – such as agent fees, council tax and bills. Moreover, if you hope to live a typical “student life” including hosting parties at your place, you should be also prepared for the extra “maintenance” costs, which can occur as the result of any damage caused!
If you are looking to move in with friends, you may be scared of the size of the apartment – especially if you need some extra room to carry out any tasks that will require space. To solve this, you might also want to seek an inexpensive student-storage unit to store all your belongings for the next three years. Hiring storage is also a great idea if you need a safe space for gear such as bikes, seasonal clothes or revision books.
Think about your transport options
If you found the accommodation within walking distance of your university campus, consider yourself lucky!
However, if you happen to find yourself living on the other side of the city or town you’re studying in, then you might want to weigh up your options when it comes to using public transport versus owning a car. Whilst public transport may look like the best choice at first glance, it can actually turn out to be quite expensive, especially if you were to regularly travel back to visit your family and friends (considering the rail ticket prices!).
Getting a car, on the other hand, could save you both money and time, especially if you are planning to travel around quite frequently. However, while there is nothing more exciting than driving your own car, you might discover that the insurance, road tax and car maintenance costs can be much high – especially if you are a newly qualified driver. Newer drivers are thought to be more likely to get involved in road accidents and traffic violations. The good news is that you can still get an affordable car that will serve your needs – for example, cars like Vauxhall Corsa or Seat Ibiza, which are both spacious and inexpensive to maintain – happy days!
Supplement your student loan with a job
To better ensure financial security whilst you’re studying, you should consider finding a part-time job.
While getting a student loan to keep you solvent seems like a no-brainer, you should take on board that the more you borrow, the more you will eventually have to pay back.
Getting a part-time job, on the other hand, will grant you some extra cash every month so you can cover your personal expenses and basic living costs. Having a student job is also a great way to socialise and gain new work experience and skills – definitely helpful when you eventually need to secure a graduate job!
To find a part-time job, check out the job board at your University, speak to your University’s Careers department, or visit one of the many UK student jobs portals such as StudentJob.co.uk.
Always look for benefits
Being a student comes with many perks. One of them is getting access to retail discounts at hundreds of stores and shops. To make sure that you take the full advantage of them, get yourself an NUS Extra or UNIDays card, and enjoy paying far less for some for items like clothing, entertainment and public transport tickets!