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How to prepare for university over the summer.

I’m in this position myself at the moment and I definitely understand that preparing for university can be a big undertaking so I’ve spoken to a few students and asked them for their advice on how to prepare for university. Firstly, we’ll cover some of the basics you should definitely consider before university starts and then we’ll hear some advice from two university students based on their personal experiences.

1. Academics

The academic aspect as you might have guessed is one of the most important aspects of university which means it requires preparation. Now, I’m not advocating you read 50 books and learn all the content for your modules in the first term all before you start university. However, you can read your course overview and find out how your modules are assessed at university. It could also be useful to read an introductory book over the summer to get yourself into or back into the rhythm of learning that subject or watch some videos related to your subject.

Lastly, I would recommend thinking about how you learn best, which learning and revision techniques help you or how you might want to improve your study skills in the upcoming year.

Advice from current university students:

N: I would say get an iPad or be prepared (especially as a science student) to print out drawings that you might need to annotate. Of course, you can just do your work mainly on a computer and this tends to save a lot of time compared to writing everything down. Also, most lectures this year are recorded so don’t worry if you don’t catch every single thing and when you’re taking notes, fight the urge to repeat every sentence- it’s not normal to get everything down anyways!

O: Organise yourself. To-do lists are my to go method but different things work for different people – it’s a bit of a trail and error process. Making a exam/assessment timetable will massively help you to stay on top of things and remember key dates. If you do manage to stay organised during the term, you’ll thank yourself when the end of term approaches and you’re not swarmed with statistics work for example! I’d also add that before starting your course, it’s useful to read and research what the content might be like, what to expect, exam to coursework ratios…

2. Finances

Understand your financial situation and how you want to approach this aspect of university. If you want to apply for a student loan or a scholarship or a mixture, then be sure to do that in time for starting in September. However, living costs are probably where most students find it hard to manage their money so it’s helpful to make a provisional budget before you start university and know your limits in terms of spending. If you would like to hear some more detailed advice on how to level up your finances as a student, have a look at this blog post.

N: Track your spending each week and write it down in a diary, an Excel sheet spreadsheet or any other method which works for you. The key thing is that you’re aware of where and how you’re spending your money which means that you can always adjust or make any changes from there.

O: Management and research. Don’t splash all your money at once but of course, do treat yourself. If you have student finance, make sure to pay your rent and other necessities as soon as possible to get it out of the way and whilst you will probably make some mistakes, you’ll learn from them and hopefully grow in how you manage your finances. When making big purchases, be sure to look around and see what the most financially efficient way to purchase that item might be.

3. Mental well-being

Looking after your mental well-being is something that we all should do but will look different for each person. Here, being self-aware is key: know yourself, your limits, boundaries, things or situations which might harm your mental health and pay close attention to them. I would also say that establishing a support system and knowing where you can go for help even before you start university can be really helpful.

Advice from current university students:

N: Hanging out with friends and family is really important for feeling socially refreshed and try to develop deeper friendships whilst at university! I also find having some form of structure is really helpful and this can be as simple as going for a walk everyday at 3pm for example.

O: Mental well-being is so important and everyone approaches this in different ways which is perfectly okay. I like to take breaks from seeing people when it gets overwhelming. That’s just something that helps me put myself first so I’d say try to be self-aware and recognise what works for you.

4. Social Life

This is the fun part where I recommend making a first-year ‘bucket list’ with activities you’d like to do or places you would want to visit. It might be that you want to join 3 university clubs or join a beginners dance class or visit a particular city. Regardless of the content, it’s really useful to have an idea of the kind of social activities you enjoy or want to try out.

Advice from current university students:

N: For me, this mainly constitutes societies, Church and hanging out with my flatmates. I think it’s important to take the initiative to invite people to do stuff, everyone is in the same shoes and will feel honoured to be invited to social events.

O: As cliché as it sounds: put yourself out there. Act (or pretend to be) confident and I’ve told myself that initially, no one might know if you’re pretending to be more confident than you feel! Whilst you won’t click with everyone, you will make friends along the way so be patient with yourself . As long as you are there for you, not much else matters and if you stick to your genuine self, you’re bound to find people you feel comfortable with.

As always, I hope you’ve found today’s post useful and be sure to let me know in the comments if you’re preparing for university this year and how you plan to do so.

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